My writing group has had several prompts lately that I haven’t been able to complete. This post combines a few of them–introduce yourself, edit a previous post, write about where you’re from. All good things to revisit from time to time, don’t you think?
I am a child of the prairies. My parents were born in southern Saskatchewan, and their parents were too. In fact, four generations of my family were born within 200 miles of each other. My great-grandfather is buried in Caron, a town that grew up around his father’s homestead. His tombstone announces he was the first white baby born west of Moose Jaw and I’ve often wondered why that was important. His grave is surrounded by those of his parents and his grandfather on one side, and by my grandfather and two aunts on the other. In that little cemetery nothing is manicured. Tumbleweeds swirl and dance as though they were socks in a dryer, and swallows perform triple axels in the sky above. It is the one place on earth where I feel completely naked, but not at all vulnerable. It is where I go when God commands my attention.
I inherited an Irish temper, but I am not an Irish Canadian; I have a true appreciation of French, but I am not a French Canadian. The headstones tell me that I am simply “Canadian”, and that is–and always has been–enough for me.
I am a child of a small prairie town which today has 1523 residents. This is roughly twice the size it was when I was growing up there. We walked to school every day, escorted only by our imaginations. Nothing was far. The rink was around the corner. Piano lessons—up the hill, and it only took ten minutes to spend our allowance on the original peppermint MoJos. I had my first nearly-romantic-encounter under the kissing tree that still stands at the elementary school. The little church where I sang my first solo still watches over the kids on the tobogganing hill…laughing children, arms stretched to the sky as they try to see who can go farthest.
I am a child of prairie floods. From two of those experiences in particular, I learned early lessons of prayer and teamwork. The only way to get out of town to the other was by boat over the bridge. I thought the word “evacuation” meant “sleepover at Gram’s”. But for my parents and my older brother, evacuation meant filling thousands of sandbags, and then a few thousand more as they built 20 foot dykes around the high school. I was too small, and my job was to make and eat cookies at Grandma’s house, sharing them (or not) with younger siblings. Ah yes, evacuation!
I am a child of prairie winds and I detest it still. Once on a MoJo run, I was filled with an odd and terrifying sensation as the wind picked me up and carried me a good ten feet. I fought and struggled to get my toes back on the sidewalk. The success of that adventure is why I am known to be quite tenacious today. Okay, I’m downright stubborn. At least I go with my strengths.
I am a child of prairie crocuses. I have always loved these flowers, but never more so than the year I turned 35. You see, I had been told that I would likely die before that birthday. But shortly after, the crocuses peeked through the ground again, and I realized that I might have to attend that retirement planning seminar after all. Like many people I did not start to live my life until I was told that I may not have the chance to.
A treasured friend wrote a poem that sums it up so well: ‘one more spring for Crystal’, and that is what they represent for me. It was another profound lesson in faith. More than a decade ago, crocuses mysteriously showed up on my desk at work, and the same friend said ‘did he know?’ He didn’t…but he does now, and I wisely married him in 2004.
I am a child of prairie tradition. I work hard, much of the time but like the artists who came to my little home town, I am awestruck by the beauty of golden wheat against particular shades of blue and white. I love baking. I love crunchy snow instead of slushy mush. I know what a tornado feels like, but more importantly, I have learned that I am strong enough to survive it.
I am a child of prairie simplicity. That is what I like about myself most of all.