All you really need to know about Christmas at home in Manitoba comes down to my first night’s sleep.
After a long drive home to Portage la Prairie and a nice visit with my parents, I settled into bed that first night. And I slept. And I slept some more.
I finally woke up 10 hours later, equalling the sleep I had in the three nights prior to leaving as I worked to get clear of the job for a week.
It’s a nice metaphor for all that’s good about going home. I like that there’s a place in the world other than my own house where I feel that comfortable.
The stress always begins to drain away as we hit the Manitoba border and my phone stops working.
That, too, is a nice metaphor.
We had a chance to spend lots of time with family and I also shared coffees with an old buddy and the high school teacher who had the most profound impact on me.
The week at home did have a jarring conclusion.
On Thursday evening around 7:30 p.m., I flipped open my laptop. I have the weather forecast as my home page so that was how I learned a massive snowstorm was blowing into Prince Albert sometime on Friday.
I also determined that it had rained a bit on Thursday.
My wife and I discussed this news and decided it was time to hit the road. By 8:30 p.m., we were on the highway.
We finally reached my folks, who had been out of town for the day, to tell them that their guests were currently driving on the other side of Brandon.
The first greasy roads we hit came near Moosomin with my wife behind the wheel. It was a sign of what the next 500 kilometres would hold for us.
I took the wheel when we turned north on Highway 9 at Whitewood and we stopped for gas 110 km later in Yorkton.
The roads were increasingly snow-covered and slippery but the worst was yet to come.
As we kept heading north, we started seeing puddles on the road from the rain. We grabbed a coffee and sandwiches in Melfort and limped home the final 90 kilometres averaging about 80 km/h but going much slower in some spots.
We pulled into our driveway at 5:30 a.m., exhausted but delighted to be home.
When we woke up on Friday afternoon, it was abundantly clear that we had made the correct decision. It was 15 degrees colder, snowing and windy.
After the drive down during the day on road conditions that seemed like it was mid-July, there was something curiously fitting about ending the holiday with a desperate journey on bad roads in the middle of the night.
It never felt so good to be home, for the second time in a week.
• • •
Making a mistake never gets easier to cope with later.
In nearly 27 years in newspapers, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Some are the little ones that nobody but me notices and some are the bigger ones.
But if you care about your work -- and the people you’re writing about -- every error feels like a kick in the stomach.
I was working my way through those feelings again last Thursday morning after discovering I had made an error in the story I wrote about Shawna Vanos and Marc Lane, the Melfort couple who had Prince Albert’s first baby of the new year at 10:20 a.m.
Sometime in our seven-minute interview, I misinterpreted the manner of birth as being a C-section rather than natural.
It’s not a mistake that’s going to bring down governments but I wanted everything to be right for Shawna and Marc, a terrific couple who I wish nothing but the best for as they begin this new adventure.
If you think any of us in this newsroom ever laugh off mistakes, I know different. The bottles of Tums and Tylenol in my desk are now nearly 10 years past their due dates but every missing pill is a testament to how badly we want everything right.
It’s especially galling for me because the staff in maternity and the happy couple were all so accommodating.
Sorry Shawna and Marc.
• • •
One of my favourite people who I’ve met since coming to Prince Albert is looking for a little bit of help.
Keely Dakin started at the Daily Herald as a reporter a couple of months before I got here in 2012.
She left for good in the spring of 2013 and has since embarked on a number of impressive adventures.
Her next one is an important trip that could help change some lives.
I’ll let her hijack the column for a bit.
In a couple of weeks I hope to be on a plane to Guatemala and Nicaragua to photograph small-scale women farmers who are the roots of their communities.
I will be combing my photography with writer and comrade, Trina Moyles, as she records interviews with women farmers for the coming book "Small."
These are women who are dealing with issues of sexual inequality and the destruction of their homeland by logging and mining to the yearly struggles of extreme weather on their crops. Throughout all of this they continue not only to survive but to innovate in order to grow and feed their communities.
This is about telling the stories of these women through Trina Moyles written word and my photography and celebrating their determination to move forward and thrive despite overwhelming odds.
I am sharing this project as it is something that means a lot to me personally as well as professionally.
For more information about the project or to donate if you are inspired (This is entirely self-funded), here's is the link;
If you know Keely or her passion for making this world a better place, please help her out.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org