Snapshots of My Prairie Home

June 30, 2013 at 8:15 am (Life, Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today’s blog post’s musical soundtrack is Prairie Blues by Wilf Carter (very old timey music and my mother’s favourite performer); famous for his yodeling. Nobody seems to yodel anymore, do they?

I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan when the trains use to still run through them (the tracks use to run behind the grain elevators, across the highway and across from the high school). Afternoon classes would be interrupted by the train whistle and we all would turn to gaze out the window. It was best to snag a window seat before class started so that you could see the train coming before the whistle sounded. I wonder how many others in my class were dreaming of being elsewhere or vowing that one day they would take a train or the highway out of there.

I literally took the train out of Saskatchewan when I went back to school in Montreal. Three days on the train, carrying way too much stuff, half-excited and half-scared to finally being gone. I wasn’t the only Saskatchewanion on that train – I met a young woman heading east as well who had come from one town over. We bonded on the train but never ran into each other again in the big city.

The tracks are no longer there. They keep tearing them out and replacing them with a walking trail (coast to coast). I remember walking those tracks with my friends when I was in elementary school, stepping from rail to rail, never touching dirt. We didn’t have to worry about trains running over us as the track was only inches above the prairies and there were no train bridges to play dare-devil off of.

There were other places to be the dare devil off of. I had a friend who climbed the ladder on the grain elevator all the way to the top. I was too scared of heights to even reach up to the first rung. I still have no idea how she never got caught – she did it on a sleepy Sunday (of course) but it seemed, back then, that were a thousand pairs of eyes watching us and telling us what we couldn’t do.

We liked to play at the lumber yard as well; there were long, quiet, shelves to hide in and they were cool on a hot day and smelled like sawdust but we were always quickly chased off and told horror stories of rusty nails and tetanus shots.

On really hot days we walked out of town to go and explore the dump, or pick cat-tails at the slough or if we felt really ambitious we’d walk the seven miles to the lake (usually getting a ride before we were half way there). I didn’t walk to the lake often. I don’t handle heat well; even at seven I would faint from the heat and have to go in. Maybe that’s why I turned into such a bookworm – there were always cool caves to hide in inside where I could spend hours reading.

I also liked to go just across the tracks to pet the horses – I knew I’d never have my own horse as there were too expensive to keep and we were poor.

I miss horses. I use to love just leaning against them, feeling their breath and smelling horse and sweat and grass. I love the smell of grass after the rain or just after it’s been mowed. I miss just being quiet and staring into a horse’s endless, wise eyes. What do they see?

My prairie home is endless. There are trees there older then me, older then my parents – trees my grandparents planted to block the prairie wind. I’ve always wanted to put a hammock under that weeping willow (above) and bask in the quiet, with a calm breeze blowing, to spy on the neighbours and catch up on old-time gossip, both old and new.

Who married who? Why? Whose baby is that? Who loved whom? Who married who? I want to know all the secrets.

The Prairies are endless. I always felt like I could stand at any outside corner with the town to my back and see forever – see the past, the present and the future all in one breath.

I could stand there and watch the storm come in, the clouds turning dark, lightening flashing and still make it safe back home (it I wanted to) before the rain pelted down!

I could stand there and dream under the clear night sky wishing on every falling star – wishing to be gone; wishing for the clear, crisp mountain air and the sound of the stream filling up after it had been dry all winter.

Home – so tempting, so elusive.

Where is home? When will I be home?

Maple Leaf

Happy Canada Day…

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1 Comment

  1. Blondi Blathers (@blondiblathers) said,

    Your stomping grounds aren’t terribly far from mine …

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