Some folks drive through the prairies on the Trans-Canada Highway and say there is nothing to see. I, on the other hand, have driven for hours and days through the forests and rocks of northern Ontario, or Michigan Wisconsin and Minnesota, and found it depressing. Then the trees disappear behind me, the vista of open prairie as far as the eye can see opens up before me, and I am HOME!
I have lived half my life away from Saskatchewan, family ties drew me back, but it is something more than family ties that holds me here. There are things that bored travellers through the flatlands may never see or experience.
The shade of the massive spreading Manitoba maple in the corner of my mother’s garden sixty-five years ago.
The delicate fragrance and beauty of the Sweet Williams growing close to that tree.
The golden eagle up above my head, making no discernable movement of his wings, yet hovering in the same spot for minutes on end.
The tiny hummingbird, his wings a-buzzing, hovering just inches from my nose.
The taste of saskatoons picked fresh from the bushes of a river valley.
The wide, scalloped river valleys, created by tumultuous water flows ages ago, now with a little trickle of a stream flowing along a narrow channel.
A herd of pronghorn antelope, possibly the only animal on earth that could outrun a cheetah.
A whitetail deer appearing to float gracefully across a pasture, then effortlessly floating over a fence.
The huge buffalo rubbing stone in a hollow on a hillside, worn smooth by millions of buffalo.
The first crocus of spring appearing not far from that stone.
The brilliant red of a scarlet mallow growing close to the ground in the most improbable places.
Bright orange prairie lilies blooming in the ditches.
The spectacular flowers of prickly pear cactuses.
The song of the meadowlark, audible above the road noise and air conditioning while driving with the windows closed.
The song of the yellow warbler.
A field turned white in fall by snow geese pausing in their migration.
The loud conversations of sandhill cranes from a nearby pond.
Migrating flocks of Canada geese, snow geese, whistling swans, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes and a zillion kinds of ducks.
The serenade of brown thrashers in the morning, imitating the songs of robins and other birds.
Young male flickers going rat-a-tat-tat on metal chimneys and eaves troughs in spring to attract a mate.
Hordes of saffron meadow hawks (a beautiful dragon fly), like tiny helicopters criss-crossing the lawn in search of mosquitoes to devour.
The call of the great horned owl (called the grand duc d’amérique in French) in the evenings.
Watching a young grand duc solemnly walking up and down our yard, bending over every once in a while to eat a grasshopper.
Seeing his massive wing spread when he flies up to a post to get a better view.
The long, long days of summer.
After a long winter, seeing the barren landscape explode into vibrant, lush green life.