Through the tall grass, the lioness stalks her zebra

From the Top of the Pile


The Star Wars Facebook page posted a photo on May 19 noting that on that day, 20 years earlier, The Phantom Menace came out. And I couldn’t see it until my honeymoon.

The reason was something or other about making it to my wedding on the 22nd. Therefore, I dragged my bride, Michelle, to the Silvercity Theatre at the West Edmonton Mall to see it, because that’s what all wives want for their honeymoon.

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And amazingly, 20 years later, she still loves me enough to make waffles on a Sunday.

Oh, and we bought my first Nikon camera while on the honeymoon, too. What a fateful decision that was. We could have a.) paid off our wedding debt and not gone on a honeymoon, or b.) gone on a honeymoon, where we ended up buying a camera. That camera, and the ones that followed, ended up paying for a good chunk of everything else down the road. Good choice.

I first met my future wife the May long weekend of 1993. She seems to recall meeting me at the Saskatchewan Youth Parliament session at Christmas five months earlier, but I have no recollection of that, so it doesn’t count.

I was not the happiest person, having just been dumped by my first girlfriend, ever, on May 5. Yet this beautiful blue-eyed girl with long, naturally curly hair seemed to warm up to me at the youth parliament mini session in Melville. Not much really happened, but there was a spark. However, having just come off a long-distance relationship (back when phone calls cost 10 cents a minute), this Yorkton boy wasn’t eager to start dating someone from Esterhazy.

Later that year, I would go off to engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. Michelle would end up in Regina, attending the Wascana campus of SIAST. There, she worked her ass off to get her diploma in nursing.

We kept in touch through the five sessions of youth parliament spread throughout each year, but nothing really happened. However, I eventually determined she was stalking me, as she would call me once a week to check up on me and talk, like a lioness circling a zebra.

Fast forward to May, 1997. I had just recently flunked out of university, for good. I was not in a good state. But Michelle had completed her diploma. She didn’t want to date during school, and she didn’t. But school was over now, and by my determination, she sought me out, showing up at a youth parliament session after she got her registration. The lioness crept closer to the unsuspecting zebra.

There, the spark lit four years earlier became a flame. We started dating May 5, which turned into one of the most wonderful and horrible days in my life. I came home to Saskatoon, realizing I had a girlfriend. Maybe THE girlfriend. And I found out that very same day my grandfather had a stroke and was in hospital a few blocks away. He died later that year as a result.

Despite this loss, I had gained the most wonderful thing that day – my future wife.

Perhaps for the first few weeks, the usual questions of where this was going could have crept into my head. But she took a job in North Battleford, in part to be somewhat closer to me. And I soon took a job in Rosetown, in part to be somewhat closer to her. And soon thereafter, I don’t think there was any question that this wasn’t going to last.

At our wedding, in May two years later, my mother said I didn’t know it, but I had fallen in love with Michelle from the moment I saw her. Mom was probably right. Why Mom didn’t say this, I think the reverse was also true.

We lived in a fourth floor walkup apartment at first. I was pipelining, working six days on and one day off. But yet I would drive the six hours from Moosomin to North Battleford to be home with her, even if it was just for one day.

We bought our first house in April 2001. That spring we both signed up for the military reserves to be cadet instructors. Some husbands and wives do yoga together. We signed on the dotted line, and spent the next six years in uniform together.

My pipelining days ended in 2003, which was fortuitous, because soon after we found out that our first born, Katrina, was on the way in the 2004. Spencer would arrive in 2007, completing our family.

Over all this time, we’ve been together, through a lot of thick and thin. That included tough finances, a heart attack for me in 2012, and sundry other things that bring truth to “for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.”

We can still make each other smile, although sometimes I wonder, is her smile that of the lioness that bagged her zebra?

Likely so.

Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at



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