Sunday, April 17, 2011

Deer in the Tulips

There is something intensely satisfying about giving the yard its first raking after a long winter.  Perhaps it’s the act of turning chaos into order that feels so good (the yard looked like a total disaster after a long winter), or maybe it’s just being out in the sunshine and fresh air.  I’m grateful that we’ve been spared some of the horrific weather being heaped upon on neighbors to the south.

It appears that the last time I checked in was from my hotel room in Philadelphia.  That was a great trip which included lots of learning at the conference and a lovely introduction to an historic city.  I won’t regurgitate the details of those few days in Philly as I wrote about them in great detail in the following blog posts:  NCMPR Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4.  There are several good stories in these posts and a blow by blow account of my stroll up the Rocky steps. (Note the use of the word "stroll" as opposed to "run")

It’s been a whirlwind since returning home, so many things happening at work, with Council and with the family. 

At Keyano College we have said goodbye to our former President (Jim Foote) and welcomed a new one (Dr. Kevin Nagel).  I owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Jim as he saw something in my abilities and challenged me to step into a leadership role in 2006.  It was a scary decision, but it was probably the most important move in my professional career.  I enjoyed a level of mutual trust and respect with Jim that I will always treasure and appreciate.  He will be moving to Nanaimo in the coming days to begin the retirement phase of his life with his partner Marie.

Meanwhile, Kevin has recovered from jet lag – he had arrived to his first day on the job after a long trip from the UK – and has demonstrated decisive leadership by rescinding two program cancellations that had been approved just prior to his start date.  Community supporters of the arts were devastated to find out that our Music certificate and diploma programs, along with our Musical Instrument Repair program, were slated for suspension.  In the days following the Board’s announcement, they marshaled their forces and began applying a tremendous amount of pressure about the impact of these decisions.  Their voices, tweets and Facebook posts were heard (and read) loud and clear.  I went from articulating the Board’s decision in media interviews on one day, to organizing a press conference the next where Dr. Nagel and our Board Chair announced that the program cuts would be reconsidered.  It was a great day for the arts, and the protest planned in the front park of College quickly turned into a party, a celebration of music and the role that the arts play in building quality of life in our community and region.  Ben and Dylan tagged along with me, Dylan taking pictures and capturing some video, while Ben zoomed up and down the sidewalk watching from a distance.  See Protest to Party for more.

With so much change happening, my stomach didn’t know which way to flip (to be completely honest).  Because my role is so closely linked to the President and because I had yet to really connect with Kevin, I was as uncertain about my future as I have ever been.  Leadership change in any organization is challenging.  But after spending some time with our new boss earlier this week, I feel 1000% better and in fact, am excited about what we can all do together in the coming months and years.

Dylan and Ben both spent some time in the proverbial penalty box this week.  I won’t go into the reasons why, but they each had to exist sans iTouch, sans computer, sans Xbox, sans anything screen-related.  Oh my goodness, it was painful to watch Dylan go through digital withdrawal.  As with any detoxification process, the first day was the worst.  I can still see him trying to read a book on the sofa, as big ponds of tears fell off his cheek and on to the page.  Ben, more accustomed to spending time by himself, adapted far more easily to this punishment.

They are both away as we stare into the face of the Easter Break, Dylan in Fort McKay and Ben sleeping over at his friend Owen’s house.  So, Heather and I had the house to ourselves for only the second time in 8 years last night. 

We enjoyed a late dinner, as Heather had a Chakra Yoga Intensive class till 7:30 pm.  Then we went for a rare stroll down to the Athabasca River to see if the ice is anywhere near close to breaking up.  It is not.  The weather was crisp, hovering just above zero, but it was lovely to get out and enjoy a vigorous stroll.  As we made our way back we slipped down Morimoto Drive along the Snye and turned up Hardin.  To our left, in the half light of dusk and an almost-full moon, we saw five deer happily grazing on the field behind the Clearwater Education Centre.  As we traversed the field walking along the well-worn path, they gently glanced up before continuing with their snack, completely amblivalent to our presence.

About an hour later, we were watching Hereafter in our living room as a car pulled up on Armit Crescent, directly opposite our window, shining his lights through our curtains.  He didn’t move for several minutes keeping our curtains lit up and distracting us from watching the movie.  When the shadow of a deer head crossed the scene, we quickly understood why.  Four of the five white tails had followed us home and were enjoying a feast of tulip bulbs to the fascination of the neighbors and the driver across the street.  As each of us peered through the curtains, the deer two feet from the window looked up, stared us in the eyes and tweaked his ears as Heather gently whispered “Hello Mr. Deer.”

Have a great week.

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