Well, we made it. We crossed 5 provinces in 8 days, no need to stop at Best Buy in Regina (or anywhere else) for DVD players, and everyone still talking to each other. The girls were allowed to listen music or audio books on our phones, with their own headphones for a couple of hours each day – it kept them entertained and we could listen to the music we wanted to here up front. One of my favourite moments was when C had her headphones on, but R was bored by hers. Little R let out a plaintive “I miss my sister”. Who she’d been trapped in the car with for about 4 days at that point.
We had this grand plan to run in each of the provinces as we drove across – a goal, a challenge, a way to move bodies that had been sitting for hours. And we did great through Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It was the smells that stay with me – the woods in Northern Ontario (and the swim in Lake Huron after to cool off). The river in Winnipeg. The sage in Saskatchewan. And the ocean – oh, the smell of the ocean – in BC.
We didn’t run in Alberta, though. Somewhere outside of Calgary, things got misty. And we kept hearing about the smoke from “the wildfires” on the news. I kept asking the radio “where are the fires” – but surprisingly got no answer.
Until we got into the city. It was smoke from the wildfires in BC. I was baffled – there was the Rocky Mountains between us. And the smoke was so thick we couldn’t see the mountains until we were driving through them.
Our first night in BC was in Golden. There was ash on the car when we got up the next morning. It was then I looked at the BC Wildfires Map. My province, BC, is burning.
This is the Okanagan.
The north is in worse shape. The area where my parents’ home is, where spent so many summers, growing up, that my mum and dad bought shortly after they got married, where the house my dad built with his hands stands, is on evacuation alert. Fortunately my dad has moved into PG with my sister. But most of their belongings are still there.We were lucky – although that side of the lake was on evacuation “alert”, but no order. And even that has been removed now. My province is burning – hectares of standing deadwood, thanks to the pine beetle infestation that has overrun this province for years now. Winters are no longer cold enough to kill it off – and the damage is done.
But it wasn’t until we had been in BC for 14 days before I could do the final run in the “run through 5 provinces” because even on southern Vancouver Island, the smoke was so thick that we are all coughing and wheezing and taking all kinds of medication. Finally, though the smoke has cleared. After what has been called the second worst fire season in BC history.
So, this is the sad side of my welcome home, to the province I’ve been longing to return to for 2 decades – and it’s scary. Climate change is real. And devastating. And here.
But on a positive note – I ran in 4 of the 5 provinces! I’m still not a fan of running, but it was a nice way to spend some intentional time in the environment of 4 very different parts of this amazing countries.
So – what should the next challenge be? Because running will never be my favourite thing, and having a goal, a challenge, something to justify? makes it easier to do!