Flying across the prairies, snacking on beef jerky, lentil crackers with hummus while drinking sauvignon blanc, chilled over ice of course is a cultural experience.
From spring to summer and back to winter again in ten days, that’s April on the prairies. The sights, smells and sounds surprise me all over again. At 4 AM the “cheeseburger” bird starts it’s tunes (you’ve never heard of the cheeseburger bird?) while trains whistle across the miles. The warm sun is breaking through and melting the last of winter snow drifts trapped in the shade of bushes and ditches. There’s a whole day to play and run with my sweet grandson.
The earthy smells of fresh grass and musty dust rise up along the path through low hills into the valley. Overhead comes a strange sounds like geese honking, but more raspy, almost chortling. As the sound gets louder and more puzzling I spot the scraggly V’s of snow geese, with their long necks and wide wingspan. They circle around, tumbling into the flocks behind, like a soft slow dust storm silhouetted against the gray prairie sky. They start free falling with grace to rest from their day’s journey, gliding to a field near a thawing lake.
A softness rises in lavender hue, the crocus surprises the old straw grass. The fresh spring breeze kisses the soft gray fur of fresh buds on the willows near the creek which tinkles over melting ice.
The grass turns greener and the days lengthen, more time to take with this little one. She’s up and down, the playground is fun. She curious, precious and won’t be little for long. Watching her grow and getting to know the world is a Gramma’s thrill.
Suddenly the south breeze is chased away by a harsh northern gale. Stinging rain falls from low angry clouds, and turns to ice pelts and then snow. The geese hunker down with nowhere to go.
It could be winters last blast but you never know. One more glass of chardonnay and my flight breaks through some mist to greet the mountain tops of the west coast, then sparkling ripples of the Fraser River winding through the city I call my work home. Next door is the sweet smell of the ocean and it feels like home.
Family is what takes me back to those unpredictable prairies, all 24 of us from age 2 months to 80 years gathered around the sprawling farm table for a few hours while the kids run in and out of the sun and mud.
It’s been said that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl, and I would have to agree that it’s pleasantly true.