Excerpt from Travels with Elly (MacDonald) - Saskatchewan
“Between the blush at dawn and dusk the long kiss of land and sky, bare against each other.”
From “The Prairie” in This Land by Ken Odland
The sun shown brightly as we crossed the border into the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. Temperatures approached 30° Celsius, about 10 degrees above normal for September. Immediate impressions, as seen from the highway, were checkerboard fields of amber, ochre, and green.
Fall is harvest time in the prairies and many farmers were taking advantage of the fine weather to collect their crops. On distant horizons, columns of dust rose behind tractors pulling reaping machines. Grain elevators, always beside railroad tracks, were prominent landmarks in most small towns.
British Columbia’s landscape is mostly mountainous; Alberta has mountains to the west and prairie to the east; Saskatchewan, at least the southern section, is endless flat prairie. Two tongue-in-cheek sayings that capture the essence of this flatness:
- (1) If your dog runs away from home, you can watch him for days.
- (2) Saskatchewanians, when visiting British Columbia, complain that the mountains block their view!
A scenic drive through southern Saskatchewan doesn’t exist unless you have a particular attraction to grain fields, combines, and cows.
I love this route, Dad … just keep driving!
After a five-hour drive, one of the longest of our trip, we arrived at a Saskatoon soccer arena, site of a weekend Fly Ball tournament. Sandy’s friend from Edmonton had several dogs in competition.
Since the trailer was conveniently located in the parking lot, Linda used our pullout cot for an evening, rather than sleep in her already crowded van with the dogs. Fly Ball involves tw,o teams of dogs, four to a team, competing against each other. Two 51-foot lanes are set up with four hurdles spaced every ten feet. The first two dogs are released simultaneously by their handlers, run and jump the hurdles, retrieve a ball by pressing on a tread peddle, and return to their handlers. Then the second two dogs are released and so on until all four dogs have run. The team with the lowest combined time wins. Handlers strive to minimize the time between the returning dog and the released dog passing the finish/start line. Judges sit at the line to ensure the returning dog’s nose is across before the released dog’s nose reaches the line. Anticipated releases are critical to keeping team times low.
Dogs barked enthusiastically, obviously keen to race. Elly, as a spectator, occasionally barked right along with them. I asked her, “What are you barking at?” I’m not sure, but isn’t this exciting? Arf, Arf, Arf!
Read more about Travels with Elly HERE.
Read more posts about Larry MacDonald and his work HERE.