In February 2013 I will make a presentation to a women’s conference. The topic is Stay-cations. I was approached by one of the organizers because of my work as a writer for a tourism guide.
What I will aim for is a splendid mix of facts, humour, and helpful information?all the things I value in a speaker. I can take any angle I want in the hour-long presentation. All this lead time and freedom I’ve been given is a gift.
I’m using my time wisely. Because I intend to create a keynote presentation on my new iMac, I’ve begun taking a lot of photos. Any newspaper or magazine article with pertinent travel facts is being added to a tickle file of ideas. The file has also become a repository for all those fleeting thoughts and bright ideas that drift through a person’s brain during mindless activities like mowing the lawn or ironing. A growing collection of travel guides and lure brochures is sprouting up in the house.
Perhaps what’s been most helpful is a new sense of mindfulness of what exists all around us. My antennae are up, and often I’ll see something small and think, ?Hey, I can use that.? Such was the case as we stood in line at a Subway restaurant in Whitecourt. I overheard one woman tell another that she was leaving for a women’s camp at Athabasca. According to her, it was toss-up as to what was better: what she would learn and do or the fact there would be no husband or kids for four blessed days. A few days later I heard a snippet of a radio interview about the camp. Naturally, that idea is in the file awaiting more research.
In another instance, we were driving through Whitecourt on our way home from the Ag Service Board Tour that had been hosted by Northern Sunrise County and the Municipal District of Smoky River. It was a working trip for Roy and a great getaway for me, and it took us to parts of Alberta we might never have seen otherwise. It reminded me that from the tiniest hamlet to the largest city or country, there is always something to see, appreciate, and learn.
Did you know that that area produces 40 per cent of Canada’s honey? That the Peace River carries 80 per cent of Alberta’s water? That bees never sleep and actually wear out their wings in about two months? That McLennan is the bird capital of Canada and that 9,000 trumpeter swans descend on the shallow Kimiwan Lake in October during their annual migration? That Medicine Hat’s own Terri Clark will drive 16 hours in a tour bus to put on a helluva concert for 600 people?
don’t feel badly; neither did I. But That’s the beauty of travel, at home or abroad: the fresh look at life and its people. My job is to convey that message to a room full of women, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.