Friday, July 10, 2009

Prairie Landscapes

When I previewed our trip to Manitoba, I had specifically mentioned my desire to do some prairie wandering to steep myself in the beauty and nostalgia of the landscape. It's always a trade-off because we have so many dear people to see in such a short time, and I wouldn't blame the Carons or Niverville Hieberts (and others we didn't see) for reading this and thinking, "What a jerk, wandering along ditches in the boonies when he could have been hanging out with us!" And they'd have a point.

In my defense, I get dysfunctional after days filled only with socializing and racing from one event to another, and these bits of quiet and solitude were essential if I wanted to feel like I had some actual vacation. I took 450 photos, many of them of clouds, creeks and fields.

I also rode my bike on dirt and gravel roads with the wind somehow blowing continually into my face, eventually visiting both of the yards where I grew up. The one northwest of Rosenort where we had our trailer for a few years isn't really a yard anymore, although two of the three rows of trees are still standing. The abandoned yard across the 205 still hides the pond Ryan and I learned to skate on. A kind Holdeman offered me a ride back to town after finding me in the middle of nowhere -- on the way back he lectured me about why I needed a cell phone and how to manage it properly. Yes, I'm technologically behind the Holdemans.

The farm closer to Morris, where we lived from about '83-'90, is still occupied. I drove onto the yard and met the family living there now. Neat to chat with a 10-year-old boy who's growing up there, riding his XR80 on the same paths, just like we always did. It was a bit shocking how different most of it looked -- some things just deteriorated and neglected, and trees gone or grown up. The owner was super nice and let me wander around the back boonies to check out the pond. Everything was thickly overgrown, but I enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of my past.

I visited graves and climbed grain bins, walked through tall grass and threw stones into muddy water; swatted mosquitoes and got scolded by red-winged blackbirds; counted telephone poles and found patterns in fields. I tried to remember and feel and breathe. The prairie landscapes also kept me entertained while we drove across three provinces (twice) -- I hadn't expected to be so blown away by the beauty and variety in hills, fields, trees and sky.









Angelo said...

I've been looking forward to your trip recap. I know how much you were anticipating this return to roots, and was curious about how it all panned out.

I've been back a lot more than you have in recent years, (think I'm averaging 3-4 visits every twelve months), and while my trips tend to be a lot more focused, with work and/or family dictating the agenda, I always try to take a little time to walk or drive the back roads and breath the air. I'm still always gobsmacked by the wide expanse of sky and horizon.

Your photos put me right back in the best of those moments.

Heather said...

It's easy to take these scenes for granted.

Nikki and Shane said...

I will admit to being briefly annoyed - though not at you - at gramma for not calling me the second she knew you were coming over as we literally live a 3 minute drive away from her place which you would not likely know, but she is well aware of.

All is well though. Maybe we'll catch you next time! I TOTALLY get the chaos that is visiting where you used to live. It's one of the reasons we moved back here - so I never have to visit Winnipeg again and can start exploring the rest of this fine world with our time off!

Jeremy said...

Angelo, I'm jealous of your many trips each year, but I guess if I really wanted to go more often, I'd make it happen. It had been too long since I'd been there in any season other than winter. I think that's why I had the urge to explore roots hasn't been tempting in previous visits when it's been bloody cold and snowing.

It's been interesting going through these photos and recaps over the last few days -- helps put some of it in perspective, realizing that visiting my grandpa was a really big deal for me, and probably triggered this desire to connect with my past in some way.

Jeremy said...

Too true, Heather. There's beauty everywhere, but the hardest beauty to recognize is the stuff that's around you all the time.

Jeremy said...

Thank you for your honesty, Nicole. I'd be irritated if I were you. In Grandma's defense, I called her at bedtime the night before, so she didn't have much warning. It did cross my mind to ask her to invite you guys too, but figured (wrongly, I'm sure) that everyone would be working on a Monday morning. That said, it was good to have a quiet visit with her -- Ezra was pretty good, and Ivy did her own thing, leaving us to gab.

I hear you on the desire to go anywhere else than there on your holidays...we love going, but then realize at the end of each year that we haven't gone anywhere else!

Jason said...

This post was excellent, Jer. Really brought me back, making me think of the good times I had there. Unfortunately, usually when I think of MB all these happy thoughts aren't the first thing to pop into my head.

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Jason. Even though your prairie experience in 1988(?) wasn't too great, you've also still got roots there. Glad you enjoyed this virtual trip down memory lane...

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Beautiful, as always. Why doesn't someone like National Geographic snatch you up?

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Jules. I was really happy with some of these quiet landscapes -- subtle beauty.