Friday, 3 July 2015

Post 54: Smithers, Weddings, Refocusing and Goal-Setting Again

I had the better part of last week trying to settle back down in Victoria and organizing myself before taking off for a wedding in Smithers. In part I succeeded: I found a rhythm in the bird calls outside my office on campus, caught smiles in my conversation with colleagues I haven't seen or been in touch with (it's nice to be missed!), and got lost for a couple of hours of writing in my fourth chapter again.

That feeling: losing sense of time as the focus requires ignoring everything else around, is addictive. I remember it well from undergrad paper and short-story writing. It's always the first 10 or 15 minutes of fidgety, uneasy mental calming that needs to happen in order to sink into the writing that's the hardest.

So I left last week on a high note, even as I was readying myself for a short trip—my first—to Smithers, BC, for a long-time friend's wedding.

Leaving Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands; sunrise, approximately 5:35AM. 
A lot of the flight up was catching the views of the Coast Mountains and their melting glaciers. See the edges,
the height this long-tongued glacier used to have?
Smithers was incredible!!! I truly fell in love with this little northern city. It's a little bit sprawl-y, but with the wide open Bulkley Valley to inhabit, I can understand why development patterns took shape as they did. There is no pressure to condense, unlike in the steep mountain valleys of the Kootenays, where there is little flat space to build. My friend Rory and his parents Marj and John were fantastic hosts, showing me around town, and just generally making me feel very welcome. Staying with someone who really loves and knows their own city is probably the best way to quickly get a decent sense of it in such a short amount of time. I think this is why I don't make a good tourist-traveller in places I've never been to. I long for that sense of connection that's hard to find otherwise! I always feel like I'm on the outside of a museum, looking in at the colours and images and attractions, but there's a window in the way.

I went on a lovely half-day hike with a new friend, Lisa, who I'd met years ago through the bride, and it was really great to hike with someone whose pace was compatible with mine. We pushed ourselves really hard to get up into the alpine of the Babine Provincial Park, and we just made it before we had to turn around to try to meet the time constraint we were under. We snapped a few photos of alpine plants at the top, too! I was enchanted by the variety of colour and species of the Indian paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) all the way up.

Heading to the trail parking lot, we bumped into this mottled little fox that had been playing on the dirt road. Here it is scampering off as we neared it. 
I also learned about the blue alpine geranium (Geranium sp.); the friend I stayed with lent me a field guide and we pulled it out a few times to find new plants.

The Geranium (L) and a yellow aster (Aster sp.)(R) with a little fly!

I love the crinkly white flowers of the Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), the fruit of which is one of my favourite berries.
View from the alpine we'd broken into. 

 One of the pale yellow Indian paintbrushes.                                             My hiking buddy, Lisa! 

And then the wedding took place at Camp Caledonia, right on Tyhee Lake. What a gorgeous spot! It was perfectly suited for the wedding, the weather cooperated, and I made several new friends. This will not be the first-and-last time that I will have visited.

Lake Tyhee! 
Lisa and I at the wedding. 
Academically, I also got some work done between the hike and playing cribbage and the wedding; I'd committed to writing a peer-review for an undergraduate paper that was submitted to The Arbutus Review. It felt great to sink into that for a few hours, reflect on what's working well, and where the paper could be improved. It was a very well-written paper, and a pleasure to read because of that, which made my job easier. Bonne chance! to the student; publishing is very fun!

Now it's back to breaking down the different chapter sections, laying out headings, and organizing themes, and ultimately, finishing a draft of this chapter in the next few weeks!

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