Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Often when I'm making small talk with my patients I disclose that I commute to Portage from Winnipeg. I'm surprised how many people find it shocking that I would drive "all that way" for work. Especially native Portagers. One of them once told me that the longer you live there, the longer the drive to the big city seems. My mind frame is different.

I grew up on a farm. If I was going to work anywhere for pay, I would have to commute. Small town Landmark didn't exactly have an abundance of jobs. And so I found work in Winnipeg. My first job was near the airport, about an hour's drive. And that was city driving. Stop, start, light, stop, honk, start.

I much prefer my drive to Portage. I take the Perimeter around the city and then turn west on to the #1 highway. After that, there are no lights to contend with. I can put the car in 5th gear, snuggle in to my heated seats, sip my steaming cup of Java, lose myself in my favorite music (often Blue Rodeo) and just drive.

This is my time. If my head is feeling a bit crazy, it's my opportunity to put things into perspective. I can reflect, plan, reminisce. It's my time to phone people who I want to touch base with. Usually my Mum and Dad.

Right now it's dark when I go to work and dark when I come home. 8 or 12 hr shift, it doesn't matter. It's just dark. Driving in the dark always seems more serene than daytime driving. Unless a deer jumps out in front of your car. A creature of beauty, for sure. Just don't be on highways. It disturbs my peace of mind and relaxed attitude when I have to slam on the breaks and swerve to miss hitting you.

Last night as I drove, I saw northern lights. They danced above the highway and a feeling of peace washed over me. I remember when John Unger died while I was at Camp Arnes. I was so upset and sat on the shore of Lake Winnipeg late into the night. All of a sudden I saw the most spectacular northern lights, and I felt like God was telling me he was still in control. The Northern Lights always remind me of John Unger, and God. And Lyndsey's wedding. They were so beautiful that night. But not compared to her. She was such a beautiful bride.

This morning I phoned my parents while I was driving home. But it's Wednesday today and they were loading pigs to take to the Hog Commission. So their phone was off and it was up to myself and Ace Burpee on the radio to keep me awake. Often I phone for stimulating conversation to ensure that I don't doze off. This morning I felt quite alert though as I'd had a good nap at work during my break.

And as I drove east, I saw the most glorious sunrise. Pink, blue, purple. Wisps of clouds colored by the rising sun and when finally the sun emerged, it was a huge red sphere. It took my breath away.

The drive home gives me a chance to process my shift. Some shifts are worse than others, and sometimes I really need to decompress. It gives me a chance to put things in perspective and reach a place of peace before going home. I often lose my work on the highway, preventing me from taking it home.

I love commuting.


Michele said...

of course you would! i would expect nothing else.

d funk said...

Hey Val, thanks for the glimpse into your world. Did you know that you are a good writer? Not everybody knows how to work with words like you've just done.
love you!

Karen said...

Hey Val, I have to agree with "d". You have excellent writing skills. Very expressive and interesting to read. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to get a glimpse into your personal time. p.s. I love driving. some of my best prayer meetings happen there. Love Karen

Valerie Ruth said...

thanks for your encouragement. dave, your praise always means extra much to your little sister :)

Anonymous said...

hmmm....I will try this again. Thought I had left a comment last time, and apparently it never made it! What I was wondering about is the phrase "stimulating conversation". I usually get these phone calls just as I'm waking up (and I am a slow wake-upper), or as I'm almost shut down for the night. So I'm afraid Val, the "stimulating" part is almost all up to you. It is an honor to keep you company as you drive to and fro, and I'm always glad for your safe arrival on your doorstep as we end the phone call! Love you, so proud of you! Mom

MOM said...

hmmm.. another problem -- I am "anonymous" but not very -- not sure how I choose and identity or if I need to

patti said...

Hey Val,

I agree with your perspective on commuting. I spent many an hour commuting to and from Winnipeg, praying, listening to music, and connecting with friends and family (often to stay awake). Now that I live in Calgary and work in a rather stressful environment (a homeless shelter), I prefer to take the extra time in my 'commute' to use my scooter. I go at a walking pace and can take that time to appreciate what's around me and take the time to think and pray.

Also, I've read several of your posts. You ARE a good writer.