Archive for moving

Banff Becomes This Gypsy Girl

In her first post for our Art + Soul department, local photographer and artist, Tiffany Teske, takes the opportunity to introduce herself. You may recognize a bit of yourself in the story of what drew Tiffany to the Bow Valley and the life she has discovered here. -Highline

“So, what do you think?” my husband asked me.

Tiffany took a series of double exposure series of double exposure Polaroid Spectra photographs while pushing her daughter around Banff in her stroller. Photo courtesy Tiffany Teske.

He had just been headhunted for the position of General Manager at Mount Norquay in Banff.

All I knew about Banff was that it was on the opposite side of the country, that it had “postcard” beauty, and that it boasted a lively party scene.

“Well,” I said as I cuddled our six-month-old baby and looked around our year-old home in the picturesque Gatineau Hills, “You have always wanted to ski out West… now you can live there, too. Let’s go!”

As my reaction suggests, I have always been a bit of a gypsy; gathering inspiration, formulating grand plans, and then going with the flow wherever life takes me. I have relocated many times in the past decade or so, living in four major cities, on two islands, and in two rural ski resort towns including Wakefield, QB, where we were living at the time my husband popped the “Banff” question.

The family explores their new home. Photo courtesy Tiffany Teske.

As a professional photographer and artist, I believe I can find inspiration in anything, anywhere. So westward we went!

We drove from Calgary to the Bow Valley on a full-moon night in December, 2006. The beauty and grandeur of our new mountain home was apparent from the beginning. The history of this place, the spirit of her people, the close proximity of wildlife, the influx of tourists, and the cosmopolitan nature of the town all combine to create a culture where I am continually inspired and can artistically thrive.

All of my senses were awakened as I photographed the day-to-day details of a life in Banff: the shadows on the snow, the trees as they changed with the seasons, the birds in flight, the elk eating jack o’ lanterns, and the people and their impact on this place.

A next generation mountain dweller? Photo courtesy Tiffany Teske.

began to create mixed media work that was intimate, personal, and better than anything I had created before. I am not an adrenaline junkie in an outdoor sense, but I get an addictive buzz from creating art, forging friendships and becoming part of a community.

It has been the people, especially, that have made the greatest impression on our family. Many Bow Valley locals have wandering pasts like my own, so my community here has grown quickly. And I am always grateful to witness the joy on the faces of tourists as they see our mountains for the first time.

Our connection to this place is already strong and I can’t imagine leaving. What a huge thing for a gypsy to say!

How does the Bow Valley inspire you? Your creativity? Your art? I would love to hear from you and to possibly feature you in a blog.

Mountain Momma…Take Me Home

The soundtrack of my life has been playing Be Good Tanya’s “[“well I feel like an old hobo; …you pass through places and places they pass through, but you carry ‘em with you on the soles of your travellin’’ shoes”]” for as long as I can remember. Years of a nomadic, traveling-hobo lifestyle had Rob and me living out of vehicles, backpacks and barrels. But, last Fall a different rhythm caught me off guard. I found my internal iPod tuned to John Denver’’s “”country roads, take me home, to the place I belong… mountain momma, take me home country roads”.” My tune had changed.

Don’t get me wrong; I’’m not done with travel. These itchy feet will find a way to wander once more. But for the first time ever, I felt a real hankering for stability, a place to unpack my bags and a community to call my own.

Luckily, Rob, with his new title of fiancé, felt the same. The only question was “where?”

Unpacking the Bags, For Good?

Top of Ha Ling. Photo courtesy Chloe Steepe.

With jobs that allowed for freedom of location and no desire to live in either of our hometowns, we were faced with an open road and a nation of opportunity. We made a giant flow chart of towns and cities, pored over maps, polled friends and researched real estate, cost of living and proximity to airports. Then, against all flow chart predictions and sensible decision-making strategies, we packed the cars and moved to Canmore.

Seven months ago we drove across the country neither for jobs nor cheap real estate, not to ski, climb, nor train for a sport. Instead we put two provinces between our families, the majority of our friends, warm lakes and Fall colours to follow a gut feeling.

Geographical Perfection: Real or Perceived?

At “home” with the herd. Photo courtesy Chloe Steepe.

In my own head I had conjured what I thought living in Canmore was all about. It seemed this town had it all: geographical perfection, an urban/wilderness balance and a real sense of place. But it was the people that stood out. It seemed to be a community of engaged citizens, of active, health-conscious, wellness-minded and outdoorsy folk with an admirable work-life balance.

It seemed the perfect fit for my backcountry-loving-espresso-drinking-adventurous-yoga-pant-wearing soul. As cliché as it sounds, but with no better way to describe it, the town felt like me.

Of course this was all completely hypothetical, totally contrived, and completely based on my deep desire for it all to be true. I knew not one person who lived there to confirm this reality. Regardless, we drove across the country and placed one tentative, delicate root in Canmore soil, settling into a new life in the Bow Valley.

The Meaning of Home

Out for a skate on a mountain lake. Photo courtesy Chloe Steepe.

Each day brings opportunities to explore my perceived connection with this place. Is living in Canmore (the outsider’s impossible dream) all it’’s cracked up to be? With each passing month, Canmore reveals a little more – a new friend or neighbor, café or trail, business or piece of backcountry. Differences and observations provide a never-ending source of entertainment for an intentionally displaced Torontonian. What are all these bunnies doing here? Is that a herd of elk downtown? And why does the town plow snow to the center of the roads?

As I adjust to the beat of my new tune, I embark on a new type of adventure: introducing myself to a new place, delving into the meaning of ‘home,’ becoming a part of a new community and exploring the biggest and best backyard I have ever seen.

It’’s all a part of the process of figuring out what the heck has drawn me to this little mountain town and deciding if it’’s enough to make me stay. It’’s only been a few months, but I think I’’m home.