Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Truly Enjoyable Evening

Mother & Child - Vigelund Scuplture Garden - Oslo, Norway - By Tiffany Teske
This image is available for purchase here.

Tonight, I did something I have not done since I was a kid. I took part in a focus group. When I was a child, my mom took me to a market research firm so I could eat sugary cereals and give my opinion. Tonight, all I needed to do was drive about a mile from my home, to the Cave and Basin Historical Site, in Banff National Park where I live, and give my opinion. No hard for me to do in general, and even easier when I get to sit in a comfortable chair and eat croissant sandwiches, drink Earl Gray, and eat Cozy Cave cupcakes.

The Cave and Basin museum displays and building are in need of an update. The Parks Service knows this, which is why this group was being gathered. There were 8 participants, from Calgary, Canmore, and Banff. We were a diverse group; a writer and B&B owner with 5 kids, a woman who works with a group that does studies on the best way to integrate wildlife and people in the National Park, a retiree from the UK, a speed skating coach also from the UK, a cook in a pub, a retired man writing a book on the hiking trails in Banff, an outdoor enthusiast whose job I can't remember, and me, professional photographer/artist, Banff resident, and mother. We started out with introductions, then talked about memorable sites we have been to. It soon became apparent that at least 6 of us have traveled the world. It was quite productive to think of the places we had been and to share about them.

My favorite question was where was the most memorable site you have been to and why? For me, there are two. One was the Gustav Vigelund Sculpture Garden in Oslo, Norway. Vigelund is my favorite sculptor, and I am so happy I was able to go to this place. I only wish I had had more time to photograph the 212 sculptures there. It is a beautifully kept public garden, such a magical place. The other was a little museum in Vik, Iceland, where a very old little man who ran the museum didn't give us any choice but to follow him around as he picked different things to tell us about. He could not possibly cover everything, so he would just pick and choose, and talk. And then he sang, and played the piano, and other instruments. He is in all the Icelandic guidebooks. If you went there tomorrow, you could meet him, too. He spends his days in this museum, and a very good friend of mine, has also been to Iceland and met him.

Anyway, it was fun to relive these memories, and to be given a tour of the Cave and Basin at night, while snow fell all around us. The plans for the site are quite good. And will take place over the next couple of years. In addition to being paid $85 for 2 hours of my time, I got to meet some interesting people. One of whom, the writer and B&B owner, is now running the children,s programs at the Banff Public Library, which was my good friend, Kim's, job before she went on mat leave. This woman has 5 kids, and told me they were born at home, when it was not legal in Alberta. I can not wait to talk with this woman again. It is amazing how I meet like minded people. Last night, at my memoir class, I found out one of the participants mom's used to be a midwife. Anyway, more topics for another time...

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