We’re driving toward a place where I haven’t been for 55-ish years. I don’t know exactly where it is, and it’s unlikely I’ll recognize it when and if we get there.
The road undulates, like the surrounding countryside. I’ve told stories about trips my family took on such a road, though it was gravel not paved like this one, to visit Dad’s sister, Dolly, her husband, Hanley, and son, Jimmy, at their farm near Old Wives.
I sat in the front seat of the Oldsmobile—an attempt to keep me from getting carsick. It never worked. The combination of dust and constant ups and downs got me every time. Today I am not plagued with such a malady, but as our Escape dips and rises a thought occurs to me.
“I’ll bet dollars to donuts that this is the same road!” I exclaim, using one of Dad’s euphemisms.
It’s got to be. How many roads like this could there be on the not-so-flat prairie heading from Moose Jaw to a now-abandoned community called Old Wives?
In my mind, I see my aunt’s farmhouse with the glassed-in front porch. I can almost feel what it was like to stand in the farmyard. I remember the cream separator in the crowded kitchen; a windmill; a haystack that my sister and I climbed on with cousin Jimmy; two horses: Dinah and Blanco; and little else.
Today, we see a porcupine meandering alongside the now-paved road, a coyote, a fox, tumbleweeds a-plenty, flocks of geese flying in formation, and land as far as the eye can see. I’ve no idea if we pass the land where my aunt and uncle farmed, and it doesn’t matter.
We talk to a man who has an empty bomb casing in the back of his vehicle, recently found around Old Wives Lake. During the Second World War, part of the Old Wives Lake area was used as a testing area for pilots in training. Now, it’s a migratory bird sanctuary, and an impressive one at that.
It’s bitterly cold and windy around the lake but we stop long enough to look around and let Molly stretch her legs, promising ourselves we’ll return in the spring when the weather’s more conducive to exploring and taking photographs.
We take a different, but no less scenic in my eyes, route back toward Moose Jaw.
“Look at that sky,” I say more than once. “You don’t get a sky like that in B.C.”
”You only get this much.” Gerry gestures with his hands. “It’s not big, like this.”
He’s learning to appreciate the beauty of the prairie, too. It had to happen because, well, how could it be otherwise?