Update 9

The sun slid down the blue and disappeared, pulling orange ribbons across the wheat. The purple crawled up from the east to cover the surface of the sky, and barely an instant later, a different story entirely was being told outside these motor home windows. The Big Dipper paced along the left-hand side; Cassiopeia poked her nosy face from the right; Orion stalked behind. Under this star-filled sky, bumping painfully over a last curb – “C’mon, Erik! We gotta take those wider, you know that!” – we found ourselves in Regina.

First things first: a soccer game. With three balls, one goalkeeper, and about sixty-or-so legs kicking at whichever ball happened to be closest... Strange, but still soccer, or close enough. The whistle blew, and everyone ran for the doors, arranged themselves in neat lines, and filed into the gymnasium.

“Okay,” shouted Val from the front of the gym. “First thing, I want everyone… to scream!!” It was piercing and painful. Glass-shattering, almost. Like a thousand wolves locked in a box. “Uhh… You can stop now,” Val said, after a minute or so had passed. Nothing. “Yep, that’s great right there… Wonderful job.” I swear, inside these ear-drums, cracks were growing, creeping along like on a faulty windscreen. “Really, I mean it!” He looked from side to side, wondering what on earth he had done…

Sometime later… An hour or so… Maybe more... The exhausted teachers sat back down, having somehow quieted the ranks, and we started the show. A sure-fire entertainment extravaganza, filled with races to be run, jumping to be done, hockey games to be played. Leaping onto backs and charging in circles. We tied them up and dared them to get loose. Left little heads whirling like pinwheels, minds buzzing like hornets, and parents facing a busy evening.

The next day, with tickets tight in hand, we walked into a jam-packed stadium. Roars poured from the stands; green-painted faces shook their fists and bounced in their seats; gophers drove around the end-zone in under-sized cars, waving over-sized paws. Girls with smiles taking up half their faces gyrated on the sidelines, cheering and jumping up and down, and, occasionally, attempting to kick themselves in the face. On the field, helmeted giants grunted and strained, colliding like mountain rams, puffing back and forth, and chasing each other down the field. There were the highs, with explosions and showers of sparks and fireworks and a massive cheer rising into the air, and the driving gophers went wild. Ah, but those lows, too: Everything went perfectly still, and 20,000 coaches shook their heads in frustration. Leaning against the front railing, barely arms-length from all the action and fun, Chris was pondering very deeply indeed. “So what would happen if someone ran out there…? I mean, they wouldn’t actually arrest you… Would they?” On any other day, it would’ve happened. But surprisingly enough, on this particular one, it didn’t. No leap, no run; no arrest, no bail. No jail.

A few hours later, we left Regina under a sky not unlike that which welcomed us just a while ago. I’ll remind you: The Dipper peering through the window; Cassie shining overhead; mister Orion, too, never far behind. They shone brightly, and showed us the way to Manitoba.

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