Author & Teacher

The River


Funny how quickly you realize a house isn’t what makes a home.
I don’t miss my old house. (I do still miss the floor – probably always will.)

What I do miss already, though, are my old running routes. Before I even moved into the area, I drove over and sought out different paths to run – the ravine in Scenic Acres, the loop, Blood and Guts hill in Silver Springs. And in a way, the stories and people that are attached to those runs are what makes me miss them.

My dad and I ran so many different routes there – he used to push Delaney in the jogger while I struggled to keep up. The Tuscany ravine had no connection to Scenic Acres then (that’s only been there since the overpass went in) so we would have to go off-road, cross a creek, and do some bouldering to get back home.

The Tuscany ravine was my second-favourite run. I know every downhill, every small uphill – I watched as new houses went up, and, more recently, as older ones were renovated. I knew where the shade was going to be. Sometimes, I would go down into the ravine and run along the dirt path, but not often – there were coyotes and bears and once, a moose, down there.

I ran that run – in shorts – the first Christmas we decided to have in Calgary. It was warm with no wind, and there was a calm to the few people I met on the path that day that I didn’t see on normal weekend mornings. It was the last Christmas we spent with my father-in-law.

Glenbow Ranch, the Silver Springs waterfalls, the train bridge. The new dog park, the new overlooks, and the big long hill down to the river. The big long run up Nose Hill Drive. All these places I’ve been to so often, and shared with so many.

My very favourite place, though, is Baker Park. Before the tunnel went in, it was a 17 minute run to the river, and, until the 2013 flood, Baker was always deserted. While people swarmed Bowness across the river, I would finish my run and sit on the low wall at the Sunbowl. It was the closest I came to meditating.

I have run the Tuscany-Old Growth forest-Bowness-Baker loop so many times, and I’ve seen the river in so many seasons, at so many levels, it feels like home, no matter the change. I wrote terrible poetry resting on that low wall, I made myself  resolutions and promises, and I threw more than one token into the waters to symbolize an ending, or a new beginning.

The flow of the Bow completely changed after the flood. The dirt path on the south side of the pedestrian bridge was washed out, and flood mitigation has resulted in a complete, manicured reno of the area. But go a little further – the old growth forest is still an untouched oasis of tangled roots and fallen trees.

I wrote many scenes in my head at the river – whole sections from Clearwater and my essays while watching the sparkling life of that water – ducks fighting the current, dogs fetching sticks, water beetles scurrying in that willy-nilly way that looks like utter chaos. And oh, that feeling of listening to “Levon” by Elton John at the end of a run when that whole  “leave on” scene in Clearwater was born. A bloody Jeff and Claire at their rock, talking about her dad deserting her family- it just came to me, fully formed and so clear it was like I was there.

Baker Park, that river – magic.

We had many picnics and barbecues there as a family, mostly in fall. The kids and I biked there in the summer. They hung out with me on the “boring side” before heading across to the playgrounds at Bowness.

Now, I live just a three minute run to the river. The old growth forest at Edworthy is even closer than the one further to the west. There are so many places I can sit and write bad poetry, or find the magic to write (hopefully) good novel scenes.

It’s the same river. And yet it’s a completely different river. And that’s the beauty of it. Something familiar, yet different each day.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Heraclitus, paraphrased.

I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot. I’ve found a lot of peace in the thought that we are ever-changing. That the water renews us, that it brings hope.

I have always been drawn to water (I think it’s maybe the earth sign thing – but that leads naturally to some kind of reference to playing in the mud…) and I feel like moving has nothing to do with the new house – which I do love – even the floor. I wanted to be closer to the water.

Maybe it’s the river that represents home to me – it’s always in the back of my mind, the single reason I can say I feel a connection to this city.

The river.

It kind of makes sense when you think about where the river flows – east, to Saskatchewan.


And Patty, of course.

Song: See Above
Book: Where’d You Go Bernadette. Funny. Sad. Good.

Leave a Reply