From my loft downtown I see two flags, a Canadian flag just above an Alberta flag. Both reach then hesitate, then sag and sputter in an uncertain breeze. This is the way of flags animated by breezes confused by tall buildings. This too, it seems, is the way of memory. Through a scene, a smell, a piece of music, a taste, a long ago moment unfurls and then retreats.

Twenty years ago, the blue Alberta flag on the court house in Mayerthorpe was periodically extending itself in a wavering air current. Framed by my office window in the grain elevator I can still see the flag and the brown foreground. I see grass lodged, fallen like a skirt at the feet of naked shrubs. And I see the train track, with its creosote soaked timber-ties embedded in gravel and two straight lines of grey steel running far north. Above it all was a brilliant blue sky with a wisp of white cloud left over from the previous day’s canopy.

RedDeerfieldWhy this flag inspired memory? Twenty years ago I was dreaming about making an exit. After 12 years working for the Alberta Wheat Pool I was fit and ready for a change.

Perhaps it’s this early stage of the year that has me wondering about change. Or, perhaps it’s deeper. Either way it’s not like change is an option. To refuse to change is to age at a rapid pace. The only option, it seems to me, is cooperation with one or more particular possibilities, out there on the horizon of change.

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