A heron near my house has become a bit of a local celebrity.
The bird has become accustomed to being ogled. He perches on the wooden bridge crossing a little pond in Lake Country and lets people get close enough to take pictures.
I stumbled upon him and followed him around for a little while to see how close he’d let me get.
I love Vancouver, but not enough to live there.
It’s a wonderful place to visit and explore on the odd weekend. But when you’re stuck in traffic for 45 minutes because the city decided to pave a lane on Georgia Street, it’s a nice reminder that small town traffic is less rage inducing.
I had the chance to reconnect with an old friend. He was managing editor of the Penticton Herald, when I was managing editor of the Vernon Daily Courier. We used to swap editorials on days when we were too busy or too uninspired to write our own.
We’ve both since left journalism. He’s a lawyer and I’m in public relations.
He sold the trip to me as a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas adventure. The truth was much tamer: stops at Ikea and The Running Room.
We spent most of Saturday night at Steamhouse Brew Pub and got drunk off beer flights while we traded stories (and tweeted at a reporter we knew about why tequila was not a good option).
It was a great weekend.
It was hot. I walked with the kids along the trails out back. We trudged along happily on the hot packed earth, taking a different path than usual and picking wildflowers.
My son, freshly bathed, decided to play in rich brown dirt on the side of the path, a brown sugar sandbox.
We got home from our walk, exhausted.
Later that night, as the pinkish-purple sky brought a breeze through the forest, I walked the dog. We meandered around the side path and then began to climb a rocky hill toward a gnarled pine, the wise old man I call him, when a coyote howled from the pond near home. It was about a mile away.
We moved faster to the top of the hill thinking maybe it was time to head back. Then came a shrieking bark that morphed into a howl, but this time from deeper in the woods, from the darker spots. It was followed fast by a yip, yip to the right.
It was definitely time to go home. Me and the dog hustled down the steep path, dodging jutting rocks at a risky pace. The dog, perhaps unnerved, barked loud a few times. I shushed him quickly and we hit the bottom of the hill at a jog. I looked behind me constantly.
When we were in sight of home, the coyote near the pond let out one last howl. It was still a distance away. We paused at the road and I caught my breath.
It’s one thing to hear there are coyotes close to the home. It’s another thing to experience them.
Everyone needs to have heroes.
Someone said that at a recent professional development conference. It could have been the Olympic gold medalist or the big shot chairman or one of the other speakers. It didn’t seem important enough to write down at the time.
But it resonated.
So here I am on Saturday morning thinking about that. I’m shooting the breeze with my daughters, 7 and 5:
“Oh, you like mermaids, do you?”
“Yeah,” says the seven-year-old.
“So what do you like better mermaids, or,” I pause to think of something remarkably important… “Unicorns?”
Her face screws up for a moment as her mind wrestles with that previously unconsidered question. Then she holds up two fingers on her left hand and one finger on her right. “They are both No. 1,” she declares, a connoisseur of mythical creatures.
I turn to her sister who repeats the same chain of events right down to the two fingers (middle and index) on the left and one on standing up straight on the right (flipping me the bird).
Heroes, I think, everyone needs to have heroes. For these two girls, it’s big sister playing hero to little sister, at least at this stage of their young lives.