The land is ready. It has dressed in mist.
The GPS says we have 700 kilometres to go. I’ve never tried this route before – Val Marie to the wild forests of Manitoba – and yes, the road is long and lonely, but I am not sure we will be the only travellers today. Weather is also on the move: clearing, misting, restless, drifting…
It douses living things with dewdrops and runs away down a rolling road, laughing. We shall meet again, I fear.
This is Canada, with quiet prairie towns and towering churches.
This is Canada, with prairie potholes adorned with living things.
This is September, which is supposed to be autumn. Not a chance!
Prairie snow. It paints road and field with the same brush, and a fox stands in the grass, wondering.
I’m uncertain too. Contrary to popular belief, prairie is not flat. Approaching a riverside town invariably means descending into a steep-sided valley. And getting out…you get the idea.
It is not as if there is another road. We have to simply continue, down, down, down. So here we are, stranded in the valley of Fort Qu’Appelle between two snow-laced slopes. I wonder how the Hudson Bay Company’s merchants coped with similar weather when this little town was a 19th century trading post. Perhaps they were sensible enough not to try.
There has been much human drama here over millennia. Not much today, however; the snowstorm knocked out the electricity. We debate abandoning our journey in a chilly hotel but cars begin inching up the slope. Onward we go, and winter around dances autumn with glee.
It is dark yet bright as we approach the Manitoba hamlet of Onanole. Weather catches its breath. All await the fiery morn.