Details, details, details…


Longview, Alberta


It’s smart to pay attention to what’s in front of you, but have you noticed what’s happening along the periphery of your vision?

My colleague Don Hill tells me it’s a meditation practice — something he learned from Tibetan refugee monks who settled in our province; an awareness of an awareness, he says.

I think I catch his drift. My good friend F. David Peat (a brilliant scientist and science writer, sadly passed) speaks of similar tools “to see what you’re not looking for,” as Don reminds me from time to time. “It’s not about thinking in straight lines,” he continues.

It’s about a circle of knowledge, which, I must admit sounds like woo-woo. But it’s been in the back of mind since my husband and I and our good friends piled into a 4×4 pickup truck, heading south of Calgary on the Cowboy Trail.

If it had been a minute before, we would have missed it: a pickup truck parked smack-dab in front of the fire station. My husband notices smoke coming from under the hood, then the whole vehicle bursts into flames. The driver watches helplessly as his brand-new vehicle burns to the rims.  He was driving it home from the dealer where he’d just made the purchase.


Weird that the pickup owner had parked in front of a firehall. And very strange it took minutes before the firefighters were roused to action. When the fire-station doors finally popped opened and the pumper truck rolled into action, the new truck was a flaming torch.

And then I got it.

It’s a volunteer fire department! The locals had to hustle to the station, get their protective gear on, and after that fire up the pumper truck; the new vehicle burned, meantime, sitting right there in front of the station.

Days later, I realize the weird scene that played out in front of a firehall is an analogy. And my media buddy Don said as much. “It’s like Alberta’s current political drama,” he said, a delayed reaction.  If you’re like me, you sense something isn’t right with our economy. There’s the urgency to act, but even with available resources, it’s taking too much time to motivate and coordinate a response.  We’re at risk of losing something far bigger than a new truck.

Let me switch gears. Some impressions from along the periphery — not necessarily connected, but important to note for future reference as we move along the political frontier and into uncertain territory.

ON THE PERIPHERY: failing to galvanize and quickly respond to a crisis can have unforgiving consequences…


ON THE PERIPHERY: I hear whispers of perplexing ideas — F. David Peat and the equally brilliant physicist  David Bohm, who theorized,”the whole is enfolded within each element” and “there is symmetry everywhere but it is often hidden.”



The first two nights, my husband Laurie and I and our friends stayed at a ranch-house B&B perched under Chimney Rock, a vision quest site sacred to the Blackfoot First Nations.

OUR HOST TONY pleasured in telling tales of fending off grizzlies and eking out a living grazing cattle on his family’s freehold and leased land; his stories are horrifying and humorous at the same time — that’s how it is in this territory.


Chimney Rock Vision Quest site

Municipal District of Ranchland, where Tony’s vast spread is situated, is Alberta’s tiniest MD: 98 ratepayers, 78 full-time residents (including 7 children). Ranchland prides itself on its exceptional financial management — they’re in the black — the books read more like a condominium-board report than stats for an entire municipal district!


The not-so-wild life at Tony’s ranch


AT TIMES, I’ve begrudged ranchers who lease land from the Crown to graze their cattle. Sure, it’s a great way to keep this land productive but it seems like a windfall for these ranchers, especially those paid surface-access fees by energy companies. Yet listening to Tony’s stories, I understand that he needs these grazing leases to sustain his family ranch. The deal on grazing leases: it’s about preserving a culture; it’s the price paid to keep these people on the land — commerce is secondary. Here on the periphery, I see that it’s a good thing.

ON THE PERIPHERY: You see things differently. Maybe what dairy and poultry farmers are asking for in other parts of Canada (to preserve the supply management boards) is really about sustaining a way of life, a culture, and less a matter of commerce and trade. That’s a big shift in thinking for me.

Stay tuned–Part 2: insights from the periphery coming soon!

Donna Kennedy-Glans, August 21st, 2018

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7 thoughts on “Details, details, details…

    1. Now that’s a tough thing to see–40 acres of trees chopped down. Awareness is important, or as you say, keep your antennae up!!

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