Monday, September 28, 2009

The Prairies

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Winnipeg.

There is something beautiful about the wide open prairies. Even though I was only 3 years old when my parents moved from Saskatchewan, my roots are there. So I feel a connection and a bit of nostalgia sweeps over me whenever we pass through, but I would not want to live there.

The BIG skydome covering the vast flat land conjures up feelings of awe and wonder and loneliness. A simple, fresh earthiness prevades. The huge fields of wheat, canola, rye and sunflowers speak of endless hours of hard toil and labor. Dusty little towns look hauntingly sad. There is an unforgiving harshness in the sweltering heat and in the never-ending strong wind that blows sand and snow over the plains.

We saw many abandoned, weathered old buildings such as this one. I wonder what kind of stories this old house could tell?

In the 1930's and 1940's my grandparents and many of my kin experienced unbelievable hardships on this land.
As we travelled the straight endless highway, two such instances came to mind.

On a beautiful winter day, my aunt and her daughter set out to visit their neighbours. They travelled over the snow in a horse-drawn caboose (like a boler trailer on skis). During their visit, they noticed storm clouds forming and decided to head for home. The drifting snow became so blinding that they lost their way. The next morning they were discovered only a short distance from their home, both frozen to death. In my mother's old family album is a little black & white snapshot of them both lying in a home-made coffin. How incredibly sad.

My grandparents, with ten children, travelled on foot from Manitoba to Saskatchewan. A team of horses pulled a wagon with their milk cow in tow. The children took turns walking and riding. At night, Grandma and the girls slept under the wagon part that was canvas covered, while Grandpa and the boys slept under the wagon. After endless miles, a wagon wheel broke. They were tired, discouraged, and alone. With no one in sight, little money, and little food they felt overwhelming despair.
In their distress, they cried out to God for help. They waited..........
As the young boys were walking down the road, kicking stones, a sudden gust of wind blew across their path. Amongst the dust and leaves was a small piece of paper. Imagine their amazement when they realized it was a ten dollar bill. I wish I could have been there to witness the family's rejoicing over this miracle that God had sent. Now they had money to get the wheel fixed!
Over the years they experienced many other hardships on the prairies, but this happening always reminded them that God is faithful.