Rural Manitoba: City Meets Country
“You’re from Toronto eh?” he asked while serving us a freshly baked pie he had stopped by with. “I went there once. Too many people. Took the bus in, sat down on a nice little bench in Nathan Phillips Square, and you know what?” he waited a moment here to ensure he had our attention. “50,000 people walked past me and not one of them talked to me!” He looked flabbergasted, we weren’t surprised. Jordana piped in “Well, did you talk to any of them?” His tone hardened “I couldn’t! They were all RUNNING!!!!!” A few hours later, we met his delightful son, who also inquired about our hometown. “Where ya’ll from?” he asked, “Toronto” we coyly admitted. A look of disgust poured over his face, and he responded as honestly as one could “Eww”.
Life here in rural Manitoba is indeed a far cry from the isolating hustle and bustle of our urban life. Just being out of cell phone service for a day seemed surreal. But beyond that, my old friend and her husband to be live in a perfect country home with 13 acres, a hippie van, a truck and a dog named moose, a fluffball of a cat and a montage of hilarious tales of country life.
Our evening was filled with an adventure through small rural towns entertained by the people that made them beautiful and quirky all at once. We were offered Ninja Turtle tarot cards to the scent of slow cooking kabalsa and a guestbook from a tiki hut one of our friend’s brothers once owned. The layers of familial love were insurmountable, but not in the conservative family Christmas photo kind of way. It was an endearing, occasionally offensive kind of love that glued these folks together into something that we weren’t used to seeing. Community. Despite the mileage between houses, the community feel was omnipotent.
As we cruised through Portage de Prairie (pronounced without the French accent, warn the locals) we remembered how simple life could be and how enjoyable nothing but the company of good friends, food and family truly was. Suddenly, our incessant necessity for “stuff” dissolved and we learned how to just appreciate what is. From peering into local hockey games to “stunting” on giant things we spent our time in rural Manitoba laughing harder than we’ve laughed all trip. A good dose of laughter yoga in the prairies.
Sunsets in Saskatchewan
A long day on the road soundtracked by sampling rap songs from the 90s and practicing yoga in the wheat fields of Saskatchewan was met with the most remarkable sunset we’d ever seen. We pulled off the highway, hauled our convenient and necessary faux fur car seat rugs onto the grass and sat beneath the setting sun. We began to chant. And chant. We chanted so hard we muted the sounds of cars and trucks rolling by. We muted the sounds of our silly neurotic thoughts about our future, our trip, our business and our lovers (and ex-lovers) back home. We muted the drama, the stories and the chaos and we arrived. Yes, it was here in Saskatchewan we arrived fully to “us”. No more faking it. The true colors shone through and we were getting really real with ourselves and (for better or for worse) each other.
Art in Alberta
The evening led us from powerful Saskatchewan sunsets into the arms of the most loving and joy filled home we’d ever met at Red Roof Studio. Labyrinths and pheasant hunting dogs meet a sustainably built art studio packed with images of goddess women and the children they once were. The owners bursted with happiness, met us at the door in the late hours of the evening with a glass of delicious wine and tales, oh the tales, of the journeys they had gone through from Holland to Duchess, just outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Amongst the company of a houseful of friends and family, they were celebrating the success of their wee art gallery receiving thereward of “Best Rural Business” here in Alberta. From agricultural crop researchers to painters and artists and photographers and concert hosts, they confirmed that the artistic dream we all think a myth, is indeed true. The adobe-smothered home was overflowing with sculptures, photos, instruments, paintings and animals. Each new moment introduced us to a new dog or cat that would arrive and topple its furry self over one of us girls, usually Jordana, our resident dog whisperer. We felt so alive here. Dancing on the clay floors amidst the paintings of women she’d sketched throughout her years- ironically enough, paintings of a blonde, a brunette and a redhead with their backs to the world- paintings of women who decided to follow their own path and turn their back to what was expected of them. Arms wide and hearts wider, the open fields of the prairies had changed something. There was a wild openness, a new depth, emerging from the three of us. And all it took was a tour through the moose jaw tunnels and powerful chanting mantra meditation on the side of the TransCanada highway.
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