Round Round We Go

As my knees creaked and groaned, and as The Band and the Boss screamed out of my iPod, I hobbled around the track at the Sport & Wellness Centre, one lap at a snail's pace, the next two at my best attempt at a jog. I'm not sure if my body is tired or if my muscles are rebelling after too much dormancy, but I was forced to go at a much slower pace than the other day. That said, I still worked up a sweat and did a full thirty minutes of movement.

I could tell from the parking lot that the place would be busy, but I was shocked to see throngs of people everywhere. The muscle bound brotherhood was out in full force flexing, heaving, pumping and puffing. The ladies and odd gentlemen exploded out of an exhilarating yoga session, while concurrent volleyball and basketball practises were happening down below. On Albian field the soccer kids were running through drills as the parents and siblings watched from the bleachers.

It was great to see Chuck Graves, up for a visit from his acreage near Raymond in southern Alberta, watching his grandson tearing up the field below. Chuck is one of those great characters who populate Fort McMurray's storied past. For years he was a wilderness outfitter, shepherding outdoorsmen into the far reaches of the Clearwater River valley to hunt bear, deer and moose. He could navigate through every twist, turn and eddy in that twisting river, with his eyes closed through a torrential rainstorm. Chucks looks great, having lost almost thirty pounds since he left the community a few years ago. He was, and still is, a fierce advocate for all the great things we have in Wood Buffalo, especially our big spirit playground on the waters and in the forests.

Chuck is a proud grandfather of Hunter, a great friend of Dylan's, a spina bifida kid with a soaring spirit, wicked sense of humour and a can do attitude that blows me away. Apparently he tried his hands at kayaking and canoeing this summer and was a whiz. Largely using his forearm crutches and tremendous upper body strength to motor about, Hunter absolutely excelled on the water. We miss him, Dylan especially.

A good stretch, hot shower and I was ready to head home.

"It sure was busy tonight," I said to the fellow packing up beside me.

"Give it about six weeks," he said. "That will change."

We both laughed.

January 11, 2010 - 204 pounds, 30.8% body fat

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