Land of Living Skies

IMG_2392 IMG_2394 IMG_2398 IMG_2400We cross the border, ride out of Montana and into Saskatchewan.  I can feel the change — in my very foundations I can feel the difference in the nature of the land here, like the bones of an old farmhouse can feel the wind change directions.  I brace myself and almost cry out at the glorious width of sky that presses out in all directions, reducing the land to a thin scrap of bristling green laying flat and low as far a distance as I can imagine.  The only relief to be seen for miles now is the pronghorn bedded down in their tawny pools of hide and horn, cozy in tall grass prairie.

What a prairie.  Oh, holy definition of space, time, stone and wind.  Black earth, clear heavens, a warm green body beneath a living sky.  Dust, breeze, dirt and aurora borealis; a swaddling of star and cloud.

Draw me in.  Hold me close.

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We cross the border, ride out of Montana and into Saskatchewan.  The border crossing guard reminds me why Canadians are beloved all the world over.  He is sweet.  I make him laugh!  We forgot our papers for the dog and he says he’ll turn a blind eye…this time.  We confuse him when he asks who is a resident of which country.  We laugh again and eventually roll away North, telling Tater Tot he’s lucky he didn’t have to stay in Montana.IMG_2492

We cross the border, ride out of Montana and into Saskatchewan.  The sky changes.  I remember everything I love about my home province, everything that makes it feel like home to me, my roots realign — draw themselves up out of Idaho and creep along behind us, down the highway, counting the dashes of yellow line until home.  I try to find words for some of my feelings and fall short because on occasion, home is an abstract thing, a notion, a feeling, a willow wisp we chase down to the broad flat rivers that carry us to the place that owns us.  I’m coming home.  On the road there, to home, my heart travels everywhere, looking for the one anchor, the one strong tether that encumbers the drift of the human spirit, the terra firma that roots the soul.

It is the sky that holds me.  That infinite thing that changes from cloud to blue to night sky to milky way to galaxy — the thing to root my very soul.  And oh, what a sky.


We cross the border, ride out of Montana and into Saskatchewan.  We cross that glimmering ribbon of international agreement, civility between nations, invisible line-of-democracy-hand-shaking-truce that makes me something different than my husband, and he, something different than me.  I am from here.  He is from there.  I am Canadian.  He is American.  Someone, a long time ago, reached out and drew a line in the dirt between him and I and our families and now, no matter where we are, we straddle that line.  The border runs from East to West with a few wobbles in-between; it runs right over me, it cuts me in two, cleaves my heart right down the center as though my bones form the structure for a rickety continental divide — these rivers of the heart run in two mighty directions.  Everything is in two pieces.  My tongue is split.  The barometric pressures of my mind are confused.  Is this up or down, or is everything sideways?IMG_2624

We cross the border, ride out of Montana and into Saskatchewan.  The sky changes, as I have come to expect it will, on these long drives home while we draw Norther and Norther, as though the toes of our boots are magnetized, pulling us up like the moonrise.  I quit looking for deer, antelope, fox, hawk, owl and coyote.  I begin to watch the clouds.  This is the land of living skies!  Alleluia!  Amen!  I could weep for the wide open of the sky here.  There is no place like this in all the world.    The sky can be cut into the four great quadrants of a compass — North, South East and West.  In each quadrant, the light splits the sky differently, as light will.  The land is given four different faces, a myriad of hue, a range of contrast, four different faces in four different moods built of two basic features:  earth and sky.


We cross the border, ride out of Montana and into Saskatchewan.  The sky changes, as I have come to expect.  Saskatchewan is for dreamers.  This dreamer has come home.

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  1. april and max mancha says:


  2. Roberta Malkiewicz says:

    “Follow the yellow lined road”, “Follow the yellow lined road”
    Your somewhere over the rainbow.
    Breathtaking skies!

  3. beautifully inspired and holy writings.
    so perfect, riding out of montana and into saskatchewan.
    i see your heart….

  4. thank you for sharing such beauty
    with us….breathtakingly beautiful!!

  5. I spot me a little bit of lake diefenbaker 🙂 i did my graduate field work down there (originally from ontario) and that’s my favorite part of the lake. Saskatchewan is a beautiful province – you’re so lucky to call it home.

    • You are correct!
      I love Dief.
      My family has a cabin on this lake and we’ve been adventuring on many of its beaches for a very long while.

      Sask Landing is beautiful — a great skating section of the lake too, in the winter.

  6. I am glad you are getting to return home for a bit. xx Beautiful!

  7. Achingly beautiful skies!! I am glad you are visiting home. xo

  8. incredibly beautiful, tumultuous skies– a heart could not resist cracking wide open standing on the prairie beneath them. this is raw beauty filled with a sense of unending possibility. thank you for opening your home to us.

  9. I remember driving out West from Quebec when I was 13 and how I fell in love with the vast openness of Saskatchewan! So happy for you Jillian that you’ve had time to go home for awhile! xx

  10. Going home… our hearts could burst with the joy of returning to our roots!

  11. lovely lovely…though flat land was not my natural state I have always loved the expanse and the fierce peace of it xx

  12. Just Breathtaking….

  13. DANG those pictures!!! i’ve gotta look again when i’ve got more time, but you captured it all beautifully (as one would expect). i can see some of those pics printed on my wall at home! glad you got to come be here for a bit. love you.

  14. nathalie says:

    The colors, the clouds, the feeling of real space…all this and more in your photographs that become more and more beautiful! Thank you for sharing this trip!

  15. Welcome home xoxo

  16. you make me feel so jealous!!

  17. Sigh. Those big skies are just truly stunning…swoon.

  18. Mandy Jean says:

    Breathtaking! I love these visions from the road, they fill me with wanderlust. The first photo must be made a print! Happy trails…

  19. Such wide open space. Large enough to fill all of your whimsical dreams. Dream away, wild, beautiful dreamers.

  20. Such wonderful photos! Makes me swell with pride to be born and raised in Saskatchewan.

  21. Lauran V says:

    Glorious skies! I’ve never such beauty!

  22. i wish my screen were bigger so i could see these images huge. or better yet, in real life! i have come to LOVE the prairie!

  23. Sweet sassy molassey, that photo of you strolling beneath the stormy sky is a real doozy!


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