20th September 2018
Weather: whatever it is doing, the prairie knows it. You just have to hope that the roads can withstand it.
South of Assiniboia, lonely grid roads flanked by black-eyed susans roll towards remote border huts on the US border. Vaguely I recall fighting the selfie-snapping crowds at tourist hotspots in Banff – this is the other Canada, the raw Canada: stark, blunt and unforgiving, with a gruff charm all its own.
It carves human beings who venture into it, whittling us with rain and wind. In turn, the native people of this land once carved petroglyphs into its bones.
For a place so open, its secrets are subtle. History is a matter of tipi rings and extinct lakes, but also written within flesh and bone. Once upon a time, so the story goes, pronghorn were pursued by the lightning-fast American cheetah. Like the vast majority of North American mammals, the cheetah became extinct at the end of the last ice age, but its prey has survived, its incredible speed now redundant.
Pronghorn are not deer or antelope but distant relatives of giraffes.
Cheetahs were hardly alone in the Pleistocene prairie: lions, sabre-toothed cats, dire wolves and short-faced bears also roamed. Today, the most visible predators are a bewildering array of raptors.
And what would the grasslands be without the sweet song of the meadowlark?
The skies are still uneasy. Mule deer roam amidst droplets.
If you go the prairie, you adapt to fit in with its moods. The road to the park is too dangerous in these conditions. We watch the vast sky fade into night over Val Marie, and hope for sunshine with the sunrise.
4 thoughts on “Canada: Whispers in the Grass”
Adele, lovely images! I didn’t know that about the Prong-horn! Thank you for setting me straight! Hope your weather got better. I don’t remember what it was like back there! I think it was wet, wet, wet and lots of crop got left on the ground! Disaster for the farmers but good for the animals that thrive on the seed. Geese, Ducks, etc are the first to come to mind! We have had a decent Autumn. Today is clear and cold. Frost out here over the past couple of nights, but just -1 or so. The sunshine is great!
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I could do with some sunshine here! Very dark and gloomy in England at the moment. While the jet stream moderates our climate, it cannot do much about our latitude and midwinter days are very short. Glad you’ve had a good autumn. We’ve had an odd year with a late cold winter, severe summer drought, and then a mild autumn.
Sorry to hear that – tough place to farm, the prairies. It always seems to be far too much weather of one kind or the other. We did see a lot of geese, especially nearer the Winnipeg side of the highway.
This is what I like about Canada – you can still find some pure wilderness, the last frontiers. So unlike the most of the Europe.
I know what you mean. It’s that feeling of forest / mountain / prairie that goes on forever.