In the summertime my thoughts turn toward the place I consider my heart’s home: a tiny hamlet on the Saskatchewan prairie where my grandma raised her three children alone after the sudden death of her husband, and where she remained until her death. I can’t say exactly why this place holds such a special place in my heart–certainly it’s not because of warm memories of time spent with my grandma; she wasn’t that kind of grandma–but it has always felt like home and it always will.
As the temperatures rise and the warm winds begin to blow I’m transported in my mind back to the dusty roads of that village when life was simpler (from my perspective as a child at least) and I felt secure in the midst of my family, all of whom have long since deceased. I remember the cream-coloured plastic bowl grandma washed dishes in with water brought in from the well in the yard. I think about jar after jar of beet relish lining the shelves in the cool, dank root cellar. I can almost hear the tick tock of the white alarm clock next to her bed and feel the warm breeze stirring the sheer curtain ever-so-slightly.
I realized this week that, in a sense, I’m going back to a prairie home in the photographs I’ve been taking. As I putter in my woman cave composing photos and working on post-processing, I find myself at peace. I find myself on the Saskatchewan prairie in my grandma’s tiny house. I imagine myself sitting down for a cup of afternoon tea after having spent the morning tending the garden or at the hot wood stove canning produce. I can almost hear the sound of children’s laughter and the slap of the screen door as they run outside for a game of tag. In a sense I’m imagining myself living the life my grandma lived, I suppose.
Oh I know it wasn’t an easy row she, and so many others who endured the Great Depression in Saskatchewan, had to hoe. I’ve read many first-hand accounts of what life was like in Grandma’s tiny hamlet in those harsh years. But what I found in those stories was not despair–quite the opposite in fact. I read about community, gratitude, and finding pleasure in simple things. Those people had so little; many lost so much; yet when they looked back, almost without exception, they had a sense of nostalgia for those simpler times.
I think we, in our fast-paced gotta-have-it-now lives, could learn much from the lives of those who had so little but felt rich nonetheless. Every time I look at the news I’m struck with the insanity that is our modern-day. Maybe that’s part of why I find such joy crafting images that take me back to another time in another place.