Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

3 months November 12, 2011

Filed under: Travel — wakingupincanada @ 9:36 pm
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3 months ago tonight I arrived in Toronto alone. It was a beautiful, hot, summer evening. Looking back now, that night seems somewhat surreal. I see the Toronto streets I walked to find a supermarket, my white hotel room, the music outside on Dundas Square awaking me at 9pm. Tonight, it was dark and cold as I left work at 5pm, with a light smattering of snowflakes and I sat at my kitchen table, chatted to my housemate, drank wine and laughed.

3 months is a short time. It is summer holidays in Ireland for most secondary students. It is a probationary period in a new job. It is a season. I’ve seen a lot and done a lot in 3 months. From Casa Loma to the Niagara Whirlpool, the Museum of Civilisation to Banff’s National Museum, hot chocolate on Rue St. Denis to vegan dark chocolate tart in Wild Flour, it has been a journey I didn’t know I had in me. I have loved more and hugged less.

And the people, the wonderful and strange people I have met; the kind lady on the train bound for Ottawa, the customer who lived through communism in what is now the Czech Republic, the older couple who bought gifts for their grandkids gushing a love usually reserved for teenagers, the anthropologist-becoming-a-nurse I shared a dorm with, the Australians of Banff, the 8-year-old girl who told her aunt I was nice, my Runclub, my yoga instructors, the 2 boys who sat beside me on a seven hour flight while I went from smiling excitedly to crying recklessly.

I’ve been down to the banks of Niagara and to the top of Sulphur and am looking towards skiing the Rockies. I’ve run my fastest ever. I’ve missed 2 weddings, a graduation and a first day at school but I got letters, photographs and a Skype account. I dressed up for Halloween for the first time as an adult. I made new friends and, fingers crossed have held tightly to the ones across the Atlantic. I have written. A lot. I have met my second cousin and my best friend’s brother-in-law. I’ve smiled and laughed and cried. Once, I got bored.

Looking forward, there are a few new friends moving on that I will have to say goodbye to. I will learn to ski. I have to finish the novel-writing challenge in 18 days and I am 4000 words behind. I need to learn how to do returns and shipping at work. I also really want to do a handstand. I get to ice skate outside. I have only ever skated with the young people I worked with before, and now I have to learn to do it without them. I will celebrate Christmas in Canada with my heart in Corcreggan. There’s a lot to do.

3 months was what I promised I would give Canada. If I didn’t like it, I could go home, after 3 months. I guess I don’t hate it. Canada is no longer on probation. Let’s raise a glass for the next 3 and wish for love, laughs and learning!



Running Banff October 24, 2011

Filed under: Run,Travel — wakingupincanada @ 9:05 am
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I don’t have a car here. My world is within walking distance. The outer reaches- about 5 miles in each direction I have explored largely through running. I think running is my way of seeing a place, feeling at home in it.

One Monday morning, I got on my trainers and got going. Somehow, here, I am more motivated to run. I’m not sure if it’s the variety of trails from my front door or because I have less ‘stuff’ to fill my time with; the odds and ends that accumulate at home that suck in time and you wonder what you did with your day.

This particular Monday morning, I took the river trail. To my left, was the main road which twisted around the mountain; to my right, the Bow River, with the forest rising up from it on the opposite shore. The Fairmont Hotel stood like a castle on a hill, surrounded by the trees. Spotting the moving specs of white nearby, I realised it was Sulphur Mountain with the Gondola looping up and down it. I’d climbed it only 2 weeks previously in shorts and a t-shirt, and now it stood, capped with snow. Determined to run further than usual, I kept on the road until I stumbled upon a beautiful forest. Wildlife is always on my mind here. I’m not sure if I am overly paranoid, or justly concerned. I wasn’t sure how many people passed through the forest, so I kept my eyes out
for bears. There was probably no need, I have bright red hair, and was wearing a bright yellow running jacket. I’m told they prefer to eat berries. With my heavy panting, I am sure  I would not surprise them. With my eyes darting around the forest, I didn’t notice the tree root until I was flying over it. I felt like I was in slow motion, wondered if I could right myself, the gymnast that I am, and landed on my hands, followed somehow by the rest of me. Sitting in this wonderful forest I wondered on what a speaker once said- that sometimes we fall down for a reason. I couldn’t think of any reasons, got up, tested my ankles and ran on. I came out at my gym and thought, “no way” realising how close I was to home. I turned around and went back in, taking another route.
Looking up, I saw a mountain cliff face, and realised it was the back of Tunnel Mountain which I’d walked last week. Slowly I am getting my bearings.

Coming home, I met 2 deer. Later, I found out that I was on the path the cougar was stalking before he was sedated and moved away. I have seen Homeward Bound- cats can find their way home.

A week later, on another Monday morning, I ran along the other side of the river and through the golf course. It is just as beautiful but less lonesome and I felt safer. The trail passes the Falls, where the mighty roar drowned out my gasping for breath as I ran, jumped, hopped and walked up the steps. Paths here are minded, and on the short, steep slope by the river, steps have been built in with a helpful railing. I ran close to the river, watching its swirls and flow. I felt blessed to see it, to be here.

It seems as if I have flown thousands of miles to a massive country that breathes space and now am living within the confines of the Rocky Mountains. It doesn’t feel confined. I think it is teaching me that it is not about how large a space you occupy, it is how you occupy the space you are in.