Imagine my delight and surprise last week when a deliciously large package from a random stranger named Leanne Spanza arrived in the mail. And then imagine how wonderful it was to find it contained the painting above. A painting of Houseboat 28 under fabulous northern lights, a regular occurrence around here these days. In fact Thursday night was the best I’ve ever seen. I drove home from an evening shift at work across whisper still waters. The whole northern half of the sky was alight. A solid mass of whispery green light, bordered by dancing ribbons of darker green edged with red. These lights lit my way home across the water. They were also reflected on the calm surface of the lake, giving rise to light both above and below. When I arrived home the dogs joined me and they too were transfixed, sitting on the edge of the deck and gazing at sky. The stillness of the evening, the solitude, the magic of those lights and the calm interest of the dogs was something I hope I never forget.
When I think back upon my time here in Yellowknife so far, my favorite memories are of those commutes home in the late evening, in fall, across the water and under a light filled night sky. There is just something incredibly peaceful and unworldly about those times. I guess it’s an experience outside of myself, a feeling of connection to something much bigger and more enduring. Something very real.
So the delight of a gift of this painting is all the more special. It’s a gift of a permanent memory of this place and those times. It turns out the gift was from my amazing colleagues at the office at the University of British Columbia where I’ve held a position for the past 3 years. (I’ve stepped down from my medical director position, although I continue to work in a lesser capacity on projects – it’s too exciting to walk away from.) They commissioned Leanne to do this painting, which she created from images on this blog. The painting is a thank you gift for those 3 years, and I am doubly blessed. I have never before, and unlikely will ever again, work with such a wonderful group of hardworking, appreciative and supportive people. Thank you Bob, Brenna and Andrea for all that you have taught me. It’s a whole other blog post to tell you about the experience of working in such a supportive environment, after two decades on the front lines in healthcare, a fractured and cracking system where folks are well meaning, but often not given the all the tools they need to do the job with any sense of ease, or support. Suffice it to say here that the experience was eye opening, this model of how effectively we can work together, given the right conditions.
I love it when art reflects life.