As the waters of the Bow and Elbow rivers rised and crested in late June, so too did my waist size.
Before the floods, I’d never worked at a newspaper while a natural disaster unfolded around us. It was all excitement and breaking news and lack of sleep and calories for days on end. That last bit I wouldn’t have guessed.
My role was as part of the web production team with the Calgary Herald. We corralled the breaking news (Cougar Creek becomes a raging river in Canmore; flash flood swallows cars in High River; City of Calgary warns people to leave downtown and collect a 72-hour bag of necessities from home) from our reporters and disseminated it (and manually took down the pay meter on all flood stories).
We did this all while trying not to get pizza sauce/spinach dip/doughnut sprinkles on the keyboard.
After a shift (my longest was 10.5 hours compared to one colleague’s 30.5 , I would go home exhausted, eat some more junk (or something delicious and healthy but with cheese on top, like my mom’s chili), sleep and go back to work for the 6 a.m. shift, stopping to pick up a McSomething for me and my colleague on the way in.
This general trend continued for the first week of flooding. Eat newsroom food (generously provided, very delicious, but not nutritionally balanced), drink a lot of coffee, think about eating a vegetable and repeat.
The entire city was stressed. (It still is.) People weren’t going to work because downtown was closed down and the City had begged people to stay off of roads. The June weather outside was glorious though! And so I washed down my starchy indulgences with cold drinks.
Sipped still-cool white wine in a powerless Hillhurst apartment.
Tried homemade red wine in a sunny Sunalta garden.
Made margaritas and watched traffic jams squeeze across one of the few open bridges.
Could I have been out volunteering in the mud like so countless other Calgarians? Sure. If I had, my tummy wouldn’t be pressed against my laptop so undaintily right now. But what I did do is eat and drink.
So now I have to get rid of this Flood 15 somehow. (It’s not really 15 lbs or kg… but it’s at least 15 unnecessary french fries/bagels/beers.) Lucky for me, the stress of the flood wasn’t the only thing that influenced me. Also: the terrible traffic.
Once roads began to open up again, drivers poured into the streets in neighbourhoods surrounding the core and main highways like Deerfoot. Plenty of them likely hoping to get some groceries again or check on their kid’s basement suite in Sunnyside. And after sitting in some of that, windows down to dissipate some of the summer swelter, it finally occurred to me how great a bike could be.
And so I took the two-wheeled balcony decoration of mine to the bike shop minutes from my home and had it turned back into a bicycle in 5 minutes.
I am so addicted. My Bow River Bulge will thank me, even if my calves and thighs are still getting used to it.