On Wednesday last week, I got a message from my friend Ray:
Hey, want to come camping with Craig and I?
I almost said No. I swore off tenting after a disastrous thunderstorm spent in a cheap tent. But Ray’s a seasoned camper, and it’s been a long, long time since the three of us got together. (We’ve been friend since our university days, and while I’ve seen them each individually in the last year or so, it’s been over a decade since all of us were in the same place.)
So on Friday I packed up some gear and hit the road for Duck Mountain Provincial Park. We ended up sitting around the campfire, drinking and shooting the breeze, till well past one in the morning.
Saturday morning Ray treated us to what he termed a “simple” breakfast of delicious bannock, spicy Italian sausage, and bacon fried over the fire…
…and then we spent a couple hours paddling around on West Blue Lake, Ray and I in a canoe, Craig in a kayak. After that we had some “basic” lunchRay’s idea of “basic” camping food included pad Thai, risotto and chicken, and chana masala; his protest was that “it’s all freeze-dried” but that didn’t make it any less delicious., then Craig and I crashed for an hour or two while Ray read in the gazebo. Once the sleepers had awoken, we went to the campground’s store to pick up more firewood, then shot more breeze. We listened to the Riders lose on Craig’s truck radio, had some “simple” supper and more drinks. Bedtime came a little earlier than Friday.
Sunday we got up, breakfasted, struck camp, and parted ways. Craig’s on the hook to come up with a plan for a camping adventure next year; perhaps we’ll end up doing some back-country paddling. I guess we’ll see.
My grandparents used to farm up by Fork River, which is about an hour’s drive from the park. My mom went up to the farm a year or two ago, and said it had fallen into disrepair. I wanted to see for myself how it looked, so I headed on over.
On the way I passed a number of interesting abandoned buildings, and snapped photos of a couple of themLater this summer, when I’m on my retreat, I really want to try star trails at one of them, but it’s a long drive. We’ll see..
Then I got to the farm.
I didn’t drive in, but left my car at the end of the driveway and walked in. I snapped photos for a panoramic view of the yard first.
The driveway is overgrown with grass, and the yard was full of grass and weeds, waist-high at least. The outbuildings were in bad shape; a couple have collapsed, and the garage’s roof has come down inside.
But the barn’s still somehow standing—given how many swayback or collapsed barns I’ve seen in this province, I’m impressed at how well it’s holding up. I waded into the waist-high grass, damp still with either dew or a recent rain, and took some photos.
The willows behind the house are twice as tall as the house now. In places in the yard, the grass was flattened, which suggested to me that animals have been bedding down there. The prairie life seems to be taking the land back, which, on the whole, I’m OK with.
I almost chickened out. Part of me was afraid of what I might find up there at the farm. I spent a significant chunk of my childhood there, and I didn’t want decay and collapse to ruin the old memories. But I’m glad I went.
After about half an hour at the farm, I walked back to my car and headed home. What a weekend. Thanks, Ray, for the invitation.
Interested in prints of my photos? Let me know, and we can work something out.
|↑1||Ray’s idea of “basic” camping food included pad Thai, risotto and chicken, and chana masala; his protest was that “it’s all freeze-dried” but that didn’t make it any less delicious.|
|↑2||Later this summer, when I’m on my retreat, I really want to try star trails at one of them, but it’s a long drive. We’ll see.|