We travelled south, the verdant hills rolling out on either side of the grey strip of tarmac we followed without thought for destination, other than to know we had to circle back towards home in time to make dinner at friends at 6:30.
Cityscape gave way to ranchlands. Concrete and wooden structures morphed into wooden barns and rambling ranchers.
Just past deWinton, we spied a sign to The Saskatoon Farm. “Have you ever been?” I asked C.C. and upon his negative response we turned left, off the highway, down a winding road, through the enormous cast-iron gates where two identical, larger than life, cast-iron sculptures of an Indian Brave riding his mighty horse stands watch on either side of the gateposts.
The place was busy. Families strolled back to their cars, their arms heavy with a sleeping child or white pails filled with ‘U-pick’ Saskatoon berries. A mother and her three young children pulled a metal wagon piled high with the last of the summer flowers being sold off at drastic discount. A group of women, their Indian sari shimmering in the light, giggled and took photos of each other against the backdrop of the rolling hills and the river valley below.
We parked in a field of golden grain ripening in the afternoon sun and walked up to the main compound of the Farm. Families, singles, couples, every nationality wandered through the greenhouses and displays, taking photos of each other sitting on the brightly covered Adirondack chairs and loungers. Grabbing a shot of the rooster. The enormous pot-bellied pig who slept in the sun, oblivious to the commotion around him.
We checked out the native grasses for sale, storing ideas on how to transform our front yard’s manicured lawn to prairie oasis. We laughed and chatted and stood at the edge of the ridge the sun warm against our skin. Below, the Sheep River lay at the valley bottom, a dark ribbon of water sparkling in the afternoon sun. It lazily wend its way through the hills, no sign of the anger and wrath that had swelled its banks and caused such devastation to High River and other towns along its course just over a month ago.
A delicious saskatoon tart consumed, we drove southward. “Shall we stop by High River?” C.C. asked, and I declined. I didn’t want to feel like a voyeur, looking in on the town-people’s pain as they continue to measure the toll of the flood, clearing out treasured belongings, tearing down homes that sat for three weeks in the flood-waters that had consumed them and turned basements and first floor living spaces into uninhabitable bacteria and mold riddled swamps.
At Nanton, we pulled into the Air Force museum and wandered amidst the memorabilia and photographs and re-constructed Mosquitoes and Lancaster Bombers and other WW2 planes that gleamed beneath their new paint jobs and polished up propellers. I briefly watched a circa 1940 film on women in the war, but left when the announcer described their work as freeing the men to ‘go off and do the more important jobs.’
And I wondered, which is more important? To make the bombs or drop the bombs? And if either is so important, how do we ever make peace?
And Pete Seeger’s iconic, Where have all the flowers gone drifted through my mind. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?
Peace cannot be made in the killing of another.
We drove on. This time westward, up and over the Porcupine Hills where rolling hillside gave way to the Foothills of the Rockies. Dark storm clouds gathered overhead, the sky turned from brilliant blue to threatening black.
And the skies opened up and the rain poured down, pelting the land.
We drove across the bridge between Turner Valley and Black Diamond. The bridge that just a few short weeks ago had stood like an island in a sea of rushing waters, the roadway washed away in the violence of the flood, has now been rebuilt. It once again serves its purpose of connecting townspeople and travellers.
A glance down-river was all it took to understand the enormity of the flood-damage. The shoreline that once gently rose up from the river bank is now starkly etched, a straight band of earth exposed to weather and time. Along its spine, giant tree trunks lay piled up in disarray, their roots festooned with the debris that surged into them in the passing of the raging waters.
Home again home again jig-a-dee-jig. A quick nap. Pets fed and we were off to join friends for an evening of delightful conversation, a delicious meal and time spent exploring life and what it means to be human in the 21st Century.
There is a time and place for everything, and now is the time to find a new path. To discover new ways to be amongst one another without resorting to the loss of human life going off to do the important jobs of making war.
Now is the time to rebuild bridges, to reconnect human life to the wonder and awe of one another. To celebrate what makes us different, and to embrace what we share in being human.
Now is the time to make peace with our nature to destroy one another and claim our right to live in harmony with all humankind.