It strikes me as odd sometimes that the area of my beloved province of Saskatchewan that I hold most dear is not the city I grew up in, but instead is an area southeast of the city where we traveled to often to visit my grandma, aunt, and uncles when I was a kid. The land is flatter here–endless miles of farmland as far as the eye can see–it is the place of my imagination, the place I feel my roots the deepest, and the place I call my heart’s home.
“When I’ve satisfied my need to immerse myself in the Moose Jaw of my childhood, I drive back up Main Street and turn right onto the Trans Canada Highway heading southeast toward Stoughton.
As I turn onto the Highway 39 exit, I hear a ghost say from the backseat. “This is the road I spilled my milk on.”
Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, 2012
Last week, as we turned onto Highway 39 I couldn’t help but remind Gerry that this was, indeed, the road I spilled my milk on about fifty years ago. The skies were dark and it seemed like we were on borrowed time waiting for the rain to come. I captured a few photographs while we had, at least some, decent light. I find such beauty in the prairie–even the dark, cloudy, and moody, prairie–so the scenery still fed a deep part of me as we drove south.
We drove past tiny villages with names so familiar to me: Drinkwater, Rouleau (where the grain elevator showed the town name as Dog River; a carryover from the now-defunct TV Show called Corner Gas that was once filmed in the tiny town), Wilcox, Corrine, Milestone, Lang, Yellow Grass, McTaggart. We stopped whenever something captured our attention, taking our time and exploring.
Finally we arrived in Stoughton–the little village where my beloved aunt and uncle had lived and where we visited often when I was a child. We drove by my aunt and uncle’s old home; there was a For Sale sign on the lawn and, yes I did check out the real estate listing and ever-so-briefly pondered what if? I captured a not-so-good image of one of the two remaining grain elevators in town and we walked through the cemetery where they were buried and paid our respects.
Then, we headed toward the hamlet of Benson which was about 20 minutes south. My grandma raised three children by herself during the harsh years of the Great Depression in a tiny house in Benson; it’s a place a travel to often in my mind when I feel the need for a prairie fix.
Little did I know there was heartbreak waiting there.