Friday, November 26, 2010

Snowed Under: Personal Essay out in December's Canadian Geographic

Recently, in presentations to school groups, I've proposed that the subjects in which I have the most expertise all fall into the category of "ways of mapping the world" or "ways of recording experiences in the world"—namely, geography (which my first degree was in), art (which my second degree was in) and writing (where I've actually managed to make a bit of a career addressing matters related to those first two topics).

So it's with some pride that I see one of my pieces of writing printed in the December 2010 issue of Canadian Geographic. It's a personal essay published on the back page's "In Habitat" section, and it describes a visit to my hometown of Calgary, as well as some of the hidden and not-so-hidden emotional landmarks that exist for me there. Here's an excerpt:

It was a blue-sky Alberta foothills day, with the kind of clear, intense light that makes a Toronto-dwelling ex-Cowtowner smart at all the grotty slush and brown, smoggy afternoons she’s unjustly endured.

A thick, two-foot-deep frosting of glittering snow layered the landscape, refracting the sun in a million directions. My eyes squinted at the dazzle as we reached the edge of a small valley where bare, winter-elegant aspens stood.

With the outline of the Rockies in the distance, it was a perfect day for any number of outdoor activities—for skiing, for sliding, or even for that most gentle of Gore-Tex clad, polarized-sunglass-shielded pursuits: strolling leisurely, coffee in hand.

But it wasn’t that kind of day for me, nor for my fiancĂ©, sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Despite the postcard-worthy loveliness of this place, we’d come on a less pretty endeavour—to find, and then visit, the dead.

Cheery, no? It gets better from that point on, I swear. And, to reiterate, I do feel honoured to be in the publication, which has done a super job over the past few years providing indepth coverage of climate change issues and other overlooked topics. (This December issue, for example, also contains an extensive feature by Linda Goyette on the need for schools in a Cree community on James Bay.)

Anyway, the rest of my essay isn't online, so I urge you to pick up a copy of Canadian Geographic at your favourite newsstand!

(Image of a snowy Calgary park from the City of Calgary)

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