of tractors and violins

well, we’re back from alberta. we went there for my graduation from the master of distance education program at athabasca university. it was a nice ceremony but the best part was when i came home to a letter from the university, telling me that i had won the annual tim byrnes scholarship for “combining academic excellence with an outstanding thesis”. i hadn’t even known that i had been nominated for it, and, needless to say, the $1,000 cheque was a great bonus!

we stayed at a great (and ridiculously inexpensive) bed & breakfast, kostyk krazy korner, owned by one of the pioneering farm families in athabasca, who had originally come from ukrainia (like just about everyone else in that area, it seemed – most names up there end in -uk or -yk).

floyd kostyk has an interesting hobby – he finds old farming and road building equipment and fixes it up. his farm looks like a sculpture garden. and when i say old, i mean old. here blog-floyds-tractor.jpgi am standing beside a fully functioning 1918 ford tractor. he also drags old caterpillars out of the bush, equipment that was used in the 1940’s in building the alaska highway, and fixes them up.

there was one that looked completely and utterly trashed – there was something blackish on top of it that might just have been a seat a few decades back – and old floyd was happily working at it, “oh, they all still work! i just gotta find out what’s wrong with the gas line! i’ll have it fixed up in a few weeks.” can’t wait to see that, will have to talk him into sending me a picture when he’s done.

and then in the evening (you can see i was quite fascinated by farmer floyd), the guy peels off his diesel-soaked overall, has supper, and goes on to yet another hobby: fixing and building violins.

now i used to play the violin back when i was a kid and i have to confess, most of the time that wasn’t such a great experience. when floyd first asked me to play something, i declined (partly because what i do on a violin nowadays really can’t be called playing).

but then there was this one fiddle, a little blond one, and somehow it played my song, it talked to me. so i picked it up and squeezed a few notes out of it – and it felt … good! in fact, when we went to bed, i found myself looking forward to cutting my fingernails after the graduation and trying it again the next day.

which i did.

you know what that felt like? it felt like barnacles breaking loose from my heart. aaahhhhh!

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