Old Fashioned Summer Holiday

Just as long as I’m with you, babe.

Smoke and Horses


While in the Canadian Rockies


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 “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

[John Muir]


Out At The Ranch

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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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