In 2005, up in Saskatoon, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine hurled 70-odd young, (well, mostly young), unsuspecting newbie veterinary graduates out into the real world to do what we were born to do.
To be the voice of the innocent animals who can’t speak for themselves.
In those 10 years the family of 70-odd moved around, worked, married, worked some more, built clinics. bought into practices, kept working, had kids, traveled, worked to pay for the travel, had more kids, took up golf, got a few grey hairs, closed or changed practices, worked some more and yet somehow managed to stay in touch.
Or stayed in touch with enough people that we were able to put together a 10 -year reunion back up in Saskatoon last weekend that was really well-attended.
Alistair and I made a vacation out of it.
We always liked the city of Saskatoon but never got to relax and truly experience both the journey up there and the city in the summer.
So we took our time and had an adventure.
It was fun being back in Canada together.
Where everything is SO Canadian.
The first Canadianism was at a cute café in Estevan, Saskatchewan where we stopped for a fabulous lunch.
Alistair ordered fries with his clubhouse and out they came smothered in gravy.
If you have never chewed a slightly damp and yet still-crisp French Fry that is coated in thick, beefy, warm, cling-to-your-fork-and-GI-tract gravy then you have missed out on one of life’s greatest guilty pleasures.
The next Canadianism occurred when I turned the radio on to see if we could get some CBC.
The first thing we heard was the unmistakable sound of The Tragically Hip which made me burst out laughing.
You either get that or you don’t.
Canadians are fiercely protective of our particular brand of hip sounds, whether they are traditionally, Maritime-influenced, sung in French, socially or environmentally charged or just really witty.
And then there is the politeness about everything.
I hadn’t realized that I’ve missed that but I did.
Although, it can border along the lines of downright silly…
And, boy, when those Canadians really want to make their point they don’t hold back on the harsh language and stern warnings…
(It would have been more Canadian if the sign had actually read: “We’re sorry, but there’s positively, absolutely no parking.”)
Enjoying the Canadian in Canada was part of our plan for this adventure.
We ate out at some of our favorite old restaurants that Canadian cities really know how to run.
Its the combination of beautiful surroundings, a tableside prepared Caesar salad pour deux, Canadian wines on the wine list (the Velvet Devil is NOT Canadian, our Canadian choice was out of stock… how Canadian…), impeccable (polite) service, and wonderfully presented food.
The Hotel Senator was one of those places Alistair and I or Fritzie and I would go to get away from the never ending cold and snow during our winters in Saskatoon 10 years ago.
I’m so glad we went back.
For kicks I organized my first ever golf tournament for the reunion-ers and we had a blast.
4 foursomes made their way through Holiday Park’s 9-hole Executive course with laughs, a refreshing beverage thanks to the bar cart and varying versions on how to hit a golf ball.
We had a few first-timers and none of them gave up!
Our foursome led the troupe onto the fairway… or way over the greens… into the hedges… onto the neighboring fairway… and, SPLOOSH… into the ponds.
We encouraged playing golf Fyfe Style, which, if you have followed my blog for long, is typically a stress-free way to play the game.
You can keep score if you want but you don’t always have to count the shot.
Even if you swing and miss!
Especially if you swing and miss.
The Wrights made it a family affair with their niece and oldest son on board and Ken and Natalie are still married after the 9 holes!
We had a great collection of prizes thanks to Royal Canin and the veterinary college. Prizes went out for “putting up with Ken” or “best team name.”
It was just another chance for a group of us to smile and laugh and catch up on one another’s lives while enjoying fresh air and a fun ride in a golf cart.
That night was our banquet, which I helped organize this winter with Allison. There were challenges with me living in Montana & her up in Saskatchewan and the fact we couldn’t find a few people until we got really intrusive online.
But it went off mostly without a hitch (sorry about the vegetarian meals, Jenny & Becky!) and I saw smiles on my classmates’ faces most of the weekend.
So we reunion-ated all night and I learned I’m not the only one not practicing but I am one of the only ones without small children hovering at my ankles or being pushed in a stroller.
And everyone looks basically the same, give or take one of those grey hairs I mentioned earlier.
And while some special friends couldn’t make it I loved seeing everyone who did, even if I didn’t get to visit with each person as long as I had wanted.
I booked the gazebo at the zoo for Sunday for more socializing but on a low-key, family level. It was a time for the kids to get out and run around, even though it was raining.
What a change for me, one of the oldest people in our class, who was helping raise teenagers when we were in vet school, to see my exceptional classmates as parents.
It was a warm and fuzzy few days in that regard.
Like all good things, the reunion and our adventure with Canadianisms had to end but I was happy to return to Bismarck and now Montana.
Its my home and my world now, which is a far cry from 10 years ago.
And I got to help former clients and their old companion who had to make a journey across the Rainbow Bridge my first day home- in a way reminding me of my skills and training that I just celebrated last weekend.
I am also reminded (and humbled) by what I told my classmates at our grad ceremony 10 years ago when I once again had the microphone- that I was so honored to call all of them my colleagues but that I was more lucky to call them my friends.
(Thanks to Alistair for taking our pics, trying his best to remember everyone’s names, being a voice of reason when I planned all of this, getting us there & back and for golfing our way back home… more on that next time…) xo