“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy,
if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you,
if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand,
rejoice, for your soul is alive.”
~ Eleonora Duce
Cruising the Backroads
This past week, my partner and I took a whirlwind road trip to my hometown in central Saskatchewan to visit my mother. It’s an eight-hour journey northeast of Calgary, traversing nearly 700 km of Canadian prairies through the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
I do love a good road trip. Tunes blaring on the car stereo (one of us might sometimes like to sing at the top of her lungs). Clear sailing as we cruise down quiet country backroads. Sunshine, bright yellow canola fields, a big, blue, wide-open prairie sky dappled with happy, puffy white clouds stretching out 360° over the horizon. Stopping for a homemade picnic lunch beside a prairie pond filled with bird life and cattails swaying in the breeze. And the best part: my sweetie sitting beside me the whole way.
The Little Graffiti House on the Prairie
The old farmhouse pictured below sits in a canola field in the countryside near Linden, Alberta. It’s been there forever, it seems. We’ve driven by it for donkey’s years on our comings and goings to and from my hometown in Saskatchewan. And for all those years, it’s been a changing canvas for colourful graffiti, sporting a newly painted face each spring. Apparently, with the blessing of the farmer who owns it, it has become a tradition for the local graduating high school class to add a new layer of colourful paint every year.
Endless Fields of Yellow and Green
Our drive across the prairies takes us through a seemingly endless patchwork of yellow and green fields, which quilt the expanse of the Canadian prairies this time of year. Spectacular yellow fields stitched across the land create beautiful scenery for hours and hours.
When the canola fields are in full bloom, as they are now, it always takes us much longer to reach our destination, because one of us (that might be me) frequently wants to stop to take photographs (maybe as many as 548 photos… mostly shots of a blur of yellow and green taken from our moving car, and mostly deleted). Over and over, we exclaim with delight over the splendour of it all. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. Talk about enjoying the journey!
You can take the girl out of the prairies,
but you can’t take the prairies out of the girl.
Me. Shot taken by my incredibly patient partner.
Besides passing many canola and wheat fields, we also cruise by countless roadside prairie ponds, wetlands and marshes. I’ve always wanted to get a shot of a duck creating a wake through a pond full of duckweed (not to be confused with algae). Finally, on a trip last year, we happened to pass a duckweed-filled pond and I was delighted to see a mother and her ducklings all swimming together, smack in the middle of it.
But these ducks aren’t like our city park mallards (who are much more willing to patiently pose for photographs)—as soon as I stepped out of the car, these little guys hightailed it for the tall reeds as fast as they could, madly sprinting across the surface of the pond, literally walking on water. I had to scramble to get a shot of any kind. Not a great shot, but I really like the paths they created through the duckweed as they all took off.
Rich with bird life. We often stop at roadside ponds to take a break (sometimes a long one) and we always see all sorts of birds—from shore birds such as Spotted Sandpipers, American Avocets and Killdeer, to Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds clinging to the cattails, to all sorts of waterfowl, such as Coots, Ruddy Ducks, Canada Geese, Snow Geese, and this pair of Eared Grebes shown below. Sadly, since we are always on somewhat of a schedule, we can never stay quite as long as we’d like to.
I was born and raised in a small town on the Canadian prairies. I read once somewhere that there is a critical developmental period in childhood during which one forms a lifelong preference for living in a particular kind of landscape—one that feels like home. That must be true, for I have a decided preference for big skies, wide open spaces, lots of sunshine, and being able to watch the sun rise up from and dip below a flat horizon line. And while mountain wildflower meadows will always make my heart soar, so does a prairie landscape—especially when I stand under the great blue dome of sky and watch long-stemmed sunlit green and gold prairie grasses swaying gently to and fro in a warm summer breeze. Every landscape has its own unique gifts to offer if we but look. And while the beauty of the prairie may be more subtle than the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, it no less fills my heart with inexpressible joy and happiness, and always fills me with a warm feeling of “Home Sweet Home”.
All photographs by madlyinlovewithlife, unless otherwise noted.
© 2014 madlyinlovewithlife