Monday, 28 May 2012

This City is My City

I had a great weekend.  I am not afraid to say that, and as I reflect on the days prior, a thought struck me as to why I enjoyed myself so.  The weather for late May was nothing short of incredible for this area, as the thermometer passed 20 degrees each day, and it stayed nice well into the evenings.  I didn't do anything elaborate or exotic, but simply spent a majority of my time outside.  I spent time with some of favourite people, both at home and at work. 

During the course of the weekend I found myself thinking about pride, particularly civic pride on a few different occasions.  My city, yes this is the city that I call home, has been getting a bad rap.  Outsiders see an industry town, one that is long on pollution, run down buildings, poor infrastructure and the like.  Prince George is also frowned on for its weather, with some of the most varied weather conditions anywhere in the world.  I laugh at those locals who will spend almost 12 months a year complaining about the weather conditions dished out by mother nature.  Too hot, too cold, too rainy, too windy, too muggy, too dry, too wet, it goes on and on.  I may have my days in the bitter cold of winter where I utter a compaint or two, but you will not catch me saying "too hot!" very often.  Prince George has but a few months of warm weather months, and these can be peppered with days that are too (insert complaint here).  To have the kind of weather we are having right now in May is something to be enjoyed and taken advantage of.

On Friday night, one the guys I support came with me to the soccer pitch to watch the opening game of the season.  With the sun beating down and my friend grinning away beside me, I watched a spirited game between Mr Jakes and Silent Cabinets.  We went for a walk at halftime and returned to watch the second half.  My friend can be very excitable but for a couple hours Friday night he was calm and relaxed, seemingly basking in the sunshine on offer. 

Saturday morning found Jasmine and I at the youth soccer field for her game at 9 am.  A little early for my taste, but the sun was out early, and it was warm enough to sport a t-shirt comfortably.  The girls had but 2 spares, our designated striker Jacqueline scored 2 early goals, and the keepers Jasmine and Samantha held firm for a 2-1 win.  The team is shaping up quite nicely, with favorite positions being established, and more effort being expended.  We have quietly built a 4 game unbeaten streak with a couple of 4-4 draws, followed by 3-2 and 2-1 wins.  Premium Truck won't be dominant this year, but the girls are working hard to grind out wins.  A key to team success at this age is finding girls that enjoy playing defensively, and Leah and Regan fit that role perfectly.  With a little coaxing from the coaches, both girls are getting more aggressive, and Leah played so well Saturday that the opposing team barely saw our net.  I get a kick out of making a huge deal about defensive play, and both Leah and Regan seemed to revel in the compliments I heaped on them after the game.  Jasmine and I drove for home, and after Jasmine counted 19 garage sales being advertised, we decided to stop at a few.  We made our way home to do some yard work with Sheila and her sidekick Asher, then squeezed in a nice bike ride through the greenbelt and back before I went off to work in the afternoon.  At work we spent the day outside, having coffee in the sun, eating our dinner in the evening breeze coming in as the sun went down.  No complaints while working in those conditions. 

Sunday brought another shift a work, but that didn't stop the sunshine barrage.  After a trip to the city's Aquatic Centre for a soak in the hot tub, I once again found myself at the soccer field, watching a spirited contest between Mr Jakes and the U17 all star team.  The sun was hot at mid day, and the other guy I support found time to fall asleep on the bleachers.  He and his roommate both loving being outside, though their interest for soccer remains well hidden.  The game was great, very intense as both teams battled hard.  We had to leave just before the end of the game, but to that point neither team had managed to score.  In need of something to eat, we left the field and returned home.  After work, I came home and hung out with Asher while Jasmine and Sheila went for a girls only outing.  Asher and I ended up going for a long walk, stopping to watch some slo-pitch being played at the local high school.  My little guy seemingly was overheating in the hot sun, so I put up the shade on the stroller and went back to walking.  After getting home I participated in a spirited family soccer game in the backyard.  It was a lot of fun watching Sheila score a couple of wrong footed goals on her daughter, as Asher wandered the field occasionally taking a run with the ball.  All in all, a great weekend outdoors in May.

After heading off on a significant tangent over the previous three paragraphs, I aim to return to my original point.  I was able to have a great time this weekend thanks to some great company, but also due to the opportunities Prince George has to offer.  The Men's League fields were built a few years ago, complete with a league clubhouse and lounge.  I visited a couple of different times this weekend, and after my coaching duties are finished for the season, I aim to join and play for the summer months.  The Prince George Aquatic Centre is frequently visited by my family, and it is a beautiful facility.  I made a couple trips there this week, as swimming is a favourite activity of Asher, Jasmine and one of my buddies at work.  While I appreciate the facilities Prince George has to offer, this week I found myself reflecting on what should be considered one of the cities finest features, it's extensive park system that weaves its way through most neighbourhoods. 

Old College Heights was designed more then 40 years ago, and the developers had the foresight to create a series of greenbelts and parks throughout the neighbourhood.  From our home we can walk  to any of 8 different parks, or the school playground.  Gladstone, the main roadway has a bike lane that Jasmine and I frequent, that connects all of the different pathways together.  This weekend we took a half hour ride through most of the trails with Jasmine leading the way, taking joy in choosing which direction we went at each fork in the path.  The next day Asher and I ventured out on the trails as well, weaving our way around the neighbourhood while out walking in the blazing sun.  Asher got a little cranky with the heat, but that didn't take away from the beautiful day.  One of my favorite spots in Prince George is Connaught Hill, a great place on a quiet morning to take some time to relax and think.  I've taken a number of trips to the hill this spring, and I definitely think it is one of Prince George's highlights. 

As it tends to happen, my enthusiasm has petered out as I carry on typing this morning.  I felt the need to share a little about why I like Prince George, and why I and my family chose to settle down here.  Perfect?  Hardly, but it is ours.

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