22 April 2005

Across the Prairies to Saskatoon

[the prairie in April]

We've made it to Saskatoon after a, well, epic drive across Alberta and up through western Saskatchewan.

It's hard for a non-native to talk about the Prairies without falling into clich├ęs, so I'll just say it: the prairie is incredibly flat, and it's incredibly beautiful. And the beauty lies in the flatness. The whole way to Medicine Hat I kept telling Dave, who periodically remarked that things were looking rather flatter than they had been around Banff, that he'd as yet seen all but nothing (beautiful as the Alberta grazing lands are). Then he took to observing that, while a certain levelness was never very far off, the fabled flatness of the Prairies was broken by some rolling patches, wasn't it? But by the time I took the following picture --

-- there was no more room for light-hearted debate. Saskatchewan has the purest relationship to earth and sky of any region of the world, and you feel your mind adjust. It should be humbling, but it also makes you feel more important. And we've been comparing notes on how friendly the people are, which has got to be the effect of this unearthly, yet so earthy, enviornment.

[barns on SK Hwy 21]

All this, of course, should set the simile-producing gears going in my brain; I can't help thinking that my prairie simile --

As when upon the western plains : the threat'ning thunderclouds approach
And all at once a dreadful rain : pours down in thick and lashing drops
It floods a peaceful river valley : drowning man and beast alike
And from a lonely knoll : survivors gaze : and weep for ruined life
With just such sudden force the English : fired against the charging French . . .

is rather inadequate, and not only because it was pretty cloudless. But then the idea behind the similes is to use Canadian landscape to express action (in contrast to Homer, who in his similes mostly expresses character through non-human animate life); and what sort of action is worthy of, or equivalent to, the Saskatchewan sky? Perhaps the battlefield the morning afterwards? That could be quite moving; but the Tour episode ends the night of the battle.

Quite a lot of driving.

[me hurtling down the road]

The Calgary-Saskatoon road music was mostly from the tribute album to Fred Eaglesmith (including White Rose, performed by Slaid Cleeves); Radiohead's Amnesiac; and of course the Blue Rodeo live album (disc 2) which we listened to several times. Blue Rodeo is really one of the great live bands of all time.

1 comment:

Mamie said...

Great pictures...big sky with nary a cloud...and I love the 'prairie simile'...