Friday, August 30, 2013

Why I do the IPE (Armstrong Fair)

It is that time of year.  The time for the Interior Provincial Exhibition in Armstrong.  The time that Armstrong swells to triple its size (or more).  The time of bad traffic, difficult (but not really expensive) parking and the midway.  Over the 20 IPE's I have lived in the area for we really have gone to only a few.  From time to time (what feels like forever ago) when my kids were young, I would take them to the IPE.  I wanted to look at the animals.  They wanted to go on the rides.  It was hot and dusty, or it was rainy and muddy but we had fun.  I remember one time in particular.  It would have been in 2001.  I was still recovering from 2 broken legs and was in a wheelchair but had figured out how to drive.  I went with Kaetlyn and Drew and Rhiannon was a babe in arms... or in my lap in the wheelchair, at least.  It was a muddy year and Kaetlyn and Drew pushed me in the wheelchair through the mud.  I remember a friendly but large pig sticking his nose out between the slats of his pen right at Rhiannon's face level and scaring the crap out of her!

For whatever reasons, it was a long time before we went again.  It became a time for a Calgary visit for back-to-school shopping.  Calaway Park was so much more fun than the midway.

Then things changed again.  No more kids in the school system.  Clothes shopping ceased being an 'event'.  And it found us in town during the fair.  So, 2 years ago, we decided to try entering some rabbits in the fair and we got involved in volunteering in the rabbit barn.  We had SO much fun!  Which led to last year where we entered ALOT of rabbits in the rabbit barn and ended up being the ONLY volunteer...  Not so much fun...  Which led to this year where in the end, we entered a few rabbits in the fair, volunteered for a limited number of days (2 - I'm done already!) and (before I entered any rabbits) made sure that there were sufficient volunteers to properly care for them.

This year it is definitely not as fun.  A disinterested-almost-13-year-old is not a fun companion at the fair.  She's only there for the rides, anyway.  Although I like to look at the exhibits, I don't have anyone who likes to look at them with me.  And the fair stupidly (in my opinion) moved all the hobbies over to the Norval arena which is as far away from the bunny barn as you can get and is actually across the street and not on the fair grounds.  So, with lack of companionship to motivate me, I never made it there.

Rides, animals, cakes and zucchinis aside, that's not why I do the fair.  Why I do the fair is this.  For most of the time that I am volunteering in the bunny barn, I sit in a chair with a rabbit in my arms.  And the children come.  Animals in general and especially rabbits bring something out in people.  Perhaps because they are unlike dogs and cats who are predators like us, they are prey and so we must interact differently with them.  We must be gentle, move slowly, calm down.  I see it in children but especially in toddlers.  The wonder in their eyes as they reach out their hands and touch the rabbit - their innate ability to connect without words or instructions.  I feel it in the rabbit in my arms as it relaxes and connects with the child.  Some need only a touch.  Some stand beside me for a long time, petting the rabbit.  For those who are big enough, some I will even let hold the rabbit if it isn't busy.  They sit there in the chair and it looks like a prayer.  Head bowed, eyes in a far away place as they pet the rabbit and wonder at that warm body snuggled into them, trusting them, accepting their affection.  It is a sacred thing in those few moments where soul connects to soul.  I see it in some adults, too.  They are often apologetic, too.  They often murmur something like, "I had a rabbit when I was a child" or "my husband is allergic"...  And its amazing how many adults won't touch the rabbit when invited by the children they are with - that connection to the natural world too suppressed or feeling too vulnerable to enjoy the satin-y softness of a rabbit.  But for these children, for that sacred connection, that is why I do the fair, despite the noise, and mess, the crowds and the dirt.

Thursday, August 08, 2013


It's hot tonight. The air in our campsite is stuffy and close. I get my bathing suit on again and take my two companions and walk to the beach.  I stop when I can see the lake through the trees. I love this view. The trees, the forest floor, the indescribable colour of the water, the blue and dark green of the mountain opposite. There is magic in it.

I slip quietly into the water and dive down into the dark blue green depths. Then I glide with just my head above the water, the water rippling molten gold around me.
 I glide almost silently through the water like a meditation. In that moment I am the golden water, the glowing sky, the dramatic mountains, the blue and purple hues in the opposite side of the valley where the sunlight has already faded.  This moment a prayer. This lake a sacrament I partake.

I sit lightly in the water with just my nose and eyes above the water and absorb the serenity and peace and incredible beauty of this place still so powerful and natural.  Even the dogs, my companions, are quiet in this magical moment.  I am aware of my body half floating in the water, my muscles and bones but in this moment I am not separate from this scene. I am one with the landscape.

Eventually I gather up my dogs and walk back towards camp. A light breeze comes up off the lake, the air soft and warm, a silken caress.

I go back and get the iPad to take pictures for you. I sit and use the new blogger application and write it right here in this spot. The light fades more from the sky. I am replenished again.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

New Denver 2013

This is our 6th year here at the Suzuki violin institute. The first year we camped as a family: Kaetlyn, Andrew, Rhiannon, Dean and I. Rhiannon was just 4, turning 5 a month later. That was the only year Dean was with us for the whole week. After that he would come for the weekend before and the weekend after to camp with us. One year Kaetlyn stayed for the week with Rhiannon and I. One year my Mom came which was probably the best time I've ever had with her in my life. Two years Ronni and Meg stayed with us and this year it is just Rhiannon and I. It's a bit lonely camping with a almost 13 year old. She has many friends at the institute and for the week she runs with 'the gang'. She hardly needs me in class at this point.

But it is beautiful and peaceful here. We brought Jodi and Jasmine with us so they keep me company and I have friends amongst the parents. I have time to blog! I've taught Jasmine to fetch in the water which she loves. I've been in the lake almost everyday.mi love Slocan lake! It is one of my all time favourite lakes. Time for contemplation, reading, journal writing...

Here are some photos of our week: Rhiannon's master class, Rhiannon and her friends reviewing in the camp gazebo and my Jo-dog chilling under the picnic table.