When Life Gives You Lemons, Leave Them in the Fridge and Get on the Bus

As I was wrangled into chaperoning for my teenaged daughter’s Sevéc Exchange field trip to Edmonton, I braced myself for a miserable day. I expected misbehaving teenaged boys, a crazy bus ride with 40 unruly 9th graders, followed by an overwhelming day in the biggest mall in Alberta. For an antisocial geek who would prefer to hang out in her pyjamas and read at home all day without speaking to a single soul, bringing me to a mall that is big enough to have its own amusement park and water park is akin to feeding me Ex-Lax and then locking the bathroom door.

Surprisingly, I did not perish. The bus ride was exactly what I expected, but I may have given an over-indulged boy the first “no” in his life (he wanted to throw trash out the window), so my good deed for the day is done.  The rest is a blur that my mind is trying to cushion me from and is now doing its best to erase from my memory. Fresh off the bus and faced with 5 hours to kill in the mall, I brought my laptop to the Genius Bar in the Apple Store for a checkup, stood in Williams & Sonoma and just breathed (I left without buying anything simply because I wanted it all), and sat in the movie theatre, all by myself, to watch the new Star Trek movie. But even alone, I was not lonely. My fellow geeks took the afternoon off to watch the same movie, and we all laughed and cried and cheered at the same times. It was heartwarming to be surrounded by kindred spirits. After that, I sat at Baskin Robbins with a diet Pepsi (yes, I resisted the mint chocolate chip ice cream- too much indulgence in one day and I could explode) and noodled around on my laptop by piggybacking on my iPhone. In the olden days, I would have brought a good book and just sat in Starbucks for 5 hours. Either way, I would have been happy. I wasn’t required to watch the kids while they were in the mall, and being in such a big mall, I never ran into a single one of them. It was dreamy.

At 6pm, our bus jumps into rush hour / long weekend traffic, and we begin the long ride home to Jasper. Being so far north, our spring/summer days are super long. The sun is still out and shining in the evening, and we have the treat of seeing lovely scenery the entire way. As our bus leaves the city behind, the buildings and busy roads pass into the distance and the green of the approaching countryside beckons. Larches and Aspens just beginning to grow their spring foliage, gentle and soft, begin to stand out from the standard pine and spruce. The rolling farm fields are plowed and ready to be planted. The land is wide open and poised – waiting to leap into summer. We have 4 hours to go before we make it back into the mountains and home to Jasper. In the winter, this drive is the dreariest, most boring ride. Usually grey and dead-straight, unlike the winding road that provides the striking views of glaciers and craggy mountains we have when driving to Banff via the Columbia Icefields Parkway. But in the sunny months, the drive to and from Edmonton is quite beautiful. There is a delicious feeling, seeing the rich brown soil in the fields in contrast to the green trees. There are farmhouses and barns painted the perfect shade of red, as if the farmers are waiting for an artist to come by and put their images on canvas. Soft round hills, velvet with green grass. Verdent. Grazing brown cows dot the landscape, as if some giant hand has sprinkled them there for our viewing pleasure. This is countryside as I always imagined it should be. Such a difference from our rocky mountains and icy lakes back home. I expect the air to be warm and to smell sweet if I roll down the window. The sky is big, and the land seems to go on forever.

Sometimes it’s good to not be in the driver’s seat. The passenger can enjoy the scenery. And sometimes it’s good to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ll take my lesson and say Thank You. And I will put in my noise-cancelling earphones for the next few hours.  LIfe is Good!

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