Coming to know my country by being present in the landscape of my adventure brought far more than scenery. Having grown up on the Prairies in a tourist-farming-fishing town along Lake Winnipeg I came to understand its different landscape cultures.
There are the fisher people who spent all seasons on the lake. Their yards are full of nets hanging and fish drying to make their favourite treat when lathered with butter; goes very well with beer. Fisher people are probably some of the best storytellers you will ever meet. When you listen to them, your heart beats faster, you can smell the fish (usually coming off their overalls) and you can feel the wind trying to toss you off the boat.
Then there are the farmers who spend so much of their time talking about the weather. I don’t know what farmers would do if the weatherman actually got it right. Somehow, there seems to be a bit of a festive atmosphere when you are around farmers. Maybe that is because they do not have to worry about the ground swallowing them up. Farmers tell stories of their livestock and their crops.
Then there are the rest of us.
My car broke down just on the outskirts of Moosomin, Saskatchewan, on my way home to Victoria; and I realized there was still quite a bit of the Prairie in me. I felt a connection to the folks who helped with the car and recognized the small town prairie openness that goes with the skies. These people wore their hearts on their sleeves and were ready to go the extra mile for everyone that walked through their shop doors. They took us in and cared for us like family.
As we continued through the rolling hills of Alberta, I got the feeling of nothing stopping. There was no place to hide, every tree seemed like someone spared the tree or planted it. It was like riding waves on land and rather than a surfboard, we had a car.
Then we arrived at the foothills of the mountains. From the soft rolling hills of Alberta, I felt like I had hit a wall. I felt like Alice in Wonderland daring to enter, as I might not return. Would the car make it through and, if it did, what would happen to me? Every time I cross those Rocky Mountains, I feel like I am entering the place of the unknown. A place where anything could happen and the stories were secrets kept by the mountains. You enter – then it happens – not only do you have to go up but you have to come down ,not once but many times. I cannot understand how people stay alive here in the winter. I wonder what they do and I wonder who are the storytellers of the mountains.
I could not be happier to pay the fare to get on the ferry to Vancouver Island. I have lived in Victoria for ten years – it is my home beyond my birthplace. There is something familiar about this place, my chosen home. The fishing boats, the farmers and much more. I feel the history of the coast, the greatness of the ocean and the tentative danger of the ground shaking. The mountains here feel friendlier to me and no matter where I turn, the story I feel myself in is the story of this landscape and its people. Every day is a new page in my book of life – occasionally the wind scales the mountaintops with whispers of the Prairies. I am grateful to live in this beautiful country we call Canada, where there is a place for everyone and everyone has a place, with the best part being , if you adventure out there may be more than one place that feels like home.