Monday, May 18, 2009

Last days of training before the half marathon

Less than a week to go until the Saskatoon marathon. The river trail has been busy with runners putting in their last days of training before Sunday's event. I ran 4 miles today (418) in chilly windy weather. After a beautiful day yesterday the temperature dipped below freezing last night and only warmed up to about 6 degrees today. I had a faster run than usual, trying this as a training strategy when I don't have time to run a long distance.

My body was a little stiff and sore today after lifting bags of soil for my garden yesterday. Anyone who says gardening isn't physically challenging is mistaken. Even with the help of the wheelbarrow I still ended up lifting, shoveling and moving stones that left me quite tired. The garden is growing quickly these days despite the cool weather. Still no sign of my blue poppy and I fear now that it didn't survive the long cold winter. Everything else looks great. I may have lost a few plants over the winter but most are thriving in their new digs down by the river. My garden is made up of plants that were here when we moved in, some from our house on 6th street, a few new ones from last summer and some very special plants from Montreal. 

The plants from Montreal traveled with me in a suitcase the day I left my home in Lachine, Quebec. The night before I left, I spent the evening digging up my favorite plants along with those that I thought would not survive without me. I packed them in bags and put them in one of my suitcases. I flew to Saskatoon the next day only to find out that the airline lost my other suitcase in transit. The suit case had all my clothes in it as well as a research proposal that required signatures that same day from the University of Saskatchewan. I remember checking into the Park Town hotel without my research proposal (why didn't I take it as carry on?), no clean underwear, toiletries or pjs, and a big suitcase full of irises, day lilies, lilly bulbs and a motley crew of other favorites! I did get my suitcase later that day, the grant was signed and submitted on time and the plants found a new home in a bed of clay on 6th St E. They survived being dug up three times that summer because of the landscaping that needed to be done and by the end of it all, the plants were all mixed up. It took three summers to discover which plants were planted where and after finally sorting them out we moved once again, this time to our house on Spadina Cres. Again I am unsure what will pop up where. My wish is that this will become a permanent home for all of us, a place where we can finally put down more permanent "roots" and just enjoy each other's company.   

Working in my perennial garden in Lachine saved me during a very stressful period of working full time, writing my doctoral thesis, caring for a baby, and  watching my marriage fall apart. While I kept a modest exercise regime, including cycling along the St Lawrence River and Lachine Canal, I was not running during this period. I just didn't have the heart to run and instead found the physical challenge of digging huge flower beds and filling them with soil and plants the retreat that I needed. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy because I'd be up at 6AM, shovel in hand, digging another new flower bed. I experimented with all kinds of plants and over the winters read continuously about soil, drainage, temperature zones and the different types of plants. At the end of my doctorate, my efforts were not only expressed in my finished thesis but also in my beautiful flower garden. 

I remember the last evening I spent at our house in Lachine, digging under the moon and stars in an attempt to take with me some of the plants I had come to know so intimately. My plants from Montreal are not only special because they come from my first garden, but also because many of them were given to me by friends like my neighbors, Jane and Gary whom I gardened and visited with over the fence, my friend and fellow activist Laverne Contois, who I think is now in Manitoba (she gave me the most beautiful tall blue irises), and Sandra Z.,  my very cool neighbor who lived across the street. I still miss our West Island neighborhood and despite my desire to return home to Saskatchewan, was very sad to leave it. Sken and I have plans to visit in August if everything works out for me to attend a meeting in Montreal. I don't know if the new owners kept the flower beds, but we may make a little visit to the old neighborhood to take a peek. 

Skender and I watched some of the Bikes on Broadway race today. It was really fun despite the cold weather. I would have liked to watch the whole thing but Skender was set on buying a skate board so we only watched one race and the start of another. Those guys fly on their bikes, really exciting to watch as you can see by the photos above. Something I love about Saskatoon is that it hosts a number of great events throughout the year, today's bike race being one. We are lucky to live along the river because we get to see some of these events right outside our front door, including the first race of Bikes on Broadway, a timed race down Spadina Cres and the Saskatoon marathon. 

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