Monday, September 30, 2013

Flat land versus mountain view

Tonight I sit in a hotel room for my last night of a crazy emotionally charged 10 day trip back home to Sask and Alberta. Three airports, 5 cities, 3 towns, 3 hotels, too numerous to count hugs and it is almost time to go home. This trip in a way was no different then the many others I have taken in the last 23 years since I moved to BC. When I get driving on the prairies I always always comment on how flat the land is and how much I miss my mountains. I miss everything about the mountains. I never get sick of seeing them, going to the tops of them, climbing them in some way, just stare at them. Whenever we come back here to the prairies when we head back on our return trip the second I see my BC mountains I smile and get so excited!

I don't know why things were different this trip. But it was. As I was driving from Regina to my mom's the one day I was watching the combines in the fields working overtime as the farmers desperately tried getting their crops in before the first frost hit. If you are not a farmer you have no idea how hard they work, how an entire year's work can be lost simply by a single frost, grasshoppers, gophers, drought etc. Most people think that farmers are rich people living in these huge Sough Fork ranches and drive trucks that cost the same as small countries. And there very well could be some farmers like that. But none that I know. The ones that I know are very hard workers, literally from sun up to sun down and every thing in between. Calves don't get to pick when they are born; sloughs don't get filled by magic rain that falls every other day; crops don't get seeded or harvested by the farm elves. It is a hard life. A life that both sides of my family has worked at since both sets of my great grandparents came across from Quebec.

But as I drove past fields and fields of combines, hay stacks, trucks being filled, and elevators I found a beauty, a new beauty that had escaped me in 57 years. I was determined at that point that I would search every single day to find something positive (besides my family) about how flat the prairies are. As I went from point a to point b, I would stop and take pictures of different things that caught my eye. So I would like to share my discovery adventure here and perhaps explain even to myself why this change.
 If this land was covered in mountains I would not be able to see my hometown from the highway
 If this land was covered by mountain range I would not know when I was this close to my hometown
Nor would I be able to see the church where my family has been baptized, married and been buried
 These farm buildings have been sitting like this for YEARS!!! Now they usually make me think of eyesores but this trip what I saw was a foundation that is securely rooted in the ground. No matter how strong the winds are, and trust me you don't know blowing wind unless you live on the prairies, these buildings have remained standing. It reminded me of my great grandparents and how they came to this land with nothing, finding nothing but rocks and dirt, having to dig and claw their way into the land that lays there now. These buildings remind me of how strong my family's roots are, that like these buildings, they will remain deeply rooted
If this land was covered with mountains I would not have seen this small grove of trees in the middle of prairie land, trees that were determined to grow and push their way through rocks and dirt
 I had been driving for a long time at this particular instant. I was tired and hurting. A three hour trip had turned into almost 5 by this point with all the frequent stops to ease my back. I was standing there on the side of the road by my car just walking back and forth trying to remain positive trying to find something great about this spot. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a small light. I thought it was a car coming around but then realized it couldn't have been as there are no curves on that stretch. I stood there and stood there for the longest time trying to figure out what the heck it was when all of a sudden my face turned into a huge grin as I recognized the light!!! I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the light that stands on the top of one of my cousin's barn. Whenever I have driven home for years and years I know that when I see that farm I am only 5 miles away from home. Whenever I see that light in the past the strain on my shoulders would always ease up almost as if to say it's ok life is good here. This farm has been in our family since my great grandfather came there from Quebec. My cousin is the 4th generation on that farm, he and his wife and three little boys
As I stood there with my backside on the top of the hood I watched the sunlight disappear. But no matter how I turned around I could still see that light, that beacon letting me know I was almost home. Home where I am always safe, always surrounded by family and with love
 If this land was surrounded by mountains I would not have seen these rows of bales of grain.. this was certainly a year;s worth of work well done

 If this land was covered in mountain ranges I would not have seen field and fields of combines working hard at bringing home the bread
As I came into my hometown the last day before I left I sat at this spot for awhile thinking of all the memories that have made me who I am, all the memories that came from this small farm town, living in small town farm life. I will always be a city girl in love with her mountains but this trip has made me appreciate the flat lands with a new appreciation for those that toil their lives here each and every day. It has been an emotional journey to say the least.