My brief stint in Alberta is going fast. This morning, in a town west of Edmonton, I did a show for about 400 kids, which went fine except that a little tiny thingie is missing from my wireless mic. It’s supposed to hold a few of the headset bits together. I begged some tape off the school secretary, who took pity and gave me a whole roll. It might be weeks before I have a chance for a proper repair.
After the show, a little boy tells me I was at his school. In Dawson Creek. Last fall. He just moved here. He has a cautious, earnest look about him, as if his soul has not yet made the move. I chat with him for a moment, then he is absorbed back into his class and they file out of the gym.
I drive a couple of hours to another town, still west of Edmonton, where I set up for 600 kids, K-7. Ostensibly the 7’s are there not to be “entertained” but to study how I use storytelling to engage my audience. It is gratifying to watch them slip from observers to audience, every bit as hooked on the stories as the younger kids. I have fun with them. One of the teachers remembers seeing me perform in the early 90’s. He was a young teacher then; now he’s retiring. He charitably tells me I haven’t changed, and jokes that I’ll probably still be doing shows in another 25 years.
As I pack up my gear, an older boy comes up. “That was an awesome show!” he says, fresh with astonished excitement as he shakes my hand. I wish I could take pictures of kids at schools.
After that show, I have a longish drive to Airdrie, just north of Calgary. On the map of Alberta, the drive isn’t very far. The thing is, Alberta is huge! Another thing is that when googlemap tells me 3 hrs 50 minutes, somehow my brain registers that as 2 hours. So it feels like a very very long drive. Weary of the highway, I weave my way east onto route 21, vastly more quiet and pretty than route 2. At dusk I see a fox. I pull over and coast along the shoulder. It lopes across the field parallel to me for a minute as we watch each other in the fading light.
At the hotel in Airdrie, there are clusters of hulky men smoking around the parking lot. They stare as I go into the lobby. The receptionist tells me, as if I’ve won the lottery, that I’m “just in time for the game.” I didn’t know there was a game, but it turns out Calgary is in the playoffs tonight. I would probably have heard about this, as well as a lot of other newsy things, if it weren’t for BBC’s “Cabin Pressure” on my ipod, which is nearly all I’ve listened to since I left the Sunshine Coast a few days ago. Wonderful, funny stuff- radio drama at its best. I’m saving the last episodes for the drive back into BC later this week. So in the last hour of driving today I listened to a lesson in Japanese. Then I checked into the hotel and watched a movie in Italian, and stayed up foolishly late. Again.