When I wrote this I had just moved from Calgary to Saskatoon, the summer of 1990 — expecting to stay 1 year. I ended up staying 10 years.
I was a tourist in Saskatchewan.
I drive home alone from Saskatoon to Calgary, in September, in the late afternoon. I take the smaller, stair-casing highways, speeding with impunity. There seems to be no R.C.M.P. left in Saskatchewan.
I drive through towns with great names like Bounty, Wartime and Conquest. Who got to name these places?
The prairies are a never ending stream of checkerboard fields, barns, churches, cows, dust-devils, road kill and ponderous, overloaded farm trucks. The heat rises off the roadway and seems to evaporate the mirage pools of water before I can enjoy splashing through them. The smells are … well, unique to the Prairies. And I never knew there were so many hawks in all of the world.
Grand daddy grasshoppers wing by as big as birds. Slower, less experienced insects splatter my windshield. The freshly oiled gravel roads splatters my car as well, but I don’t care.
I stop at Outlook, Saskatchewan and sit out in the middle of a sandbar in the middle of the Old Man River. The air is calm, the sun is smoking and the song in my head is called …
I never believed that I’d grow old.
The sandbar is the highlight of the drive. Glorious. The last day of the longest summer of my life. I wish it would never end.
If I could make a wish,
I think I’d pass …
Like everyone else in Saskatchewan, I listen to CBC AM radio constantly. The weather is updated every 15 minutes. They report that the canola is too dry to reap. It will shatter if harvested. But the wheat is still too moist to take off the field. Saskatchewan weather is one big Catch-22.
Driving West into the setting sun, I find myself alone with my thoughts. I dream a grand scheme.
As night falls, I approach Drumheller and the badlands. The warmth from my big mug of tea is comforting.
It’s harvest here. Dusty farmers take dinner on the tractor this evening and plan to work all night. I see the bright lights of combines bobbing along in the dark in every field.
I drive home alone from Saskatoon to Calgary in September.