Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1996 Centennial Western Stock Growers Association Cattle Drive


I'm finally back up and about after spending yesterday in bed with a stomach ache. Two days of missed blog entries, I wonder if that's going to start being a trend? I can't imagine spending a lot of time at it when we are camping, but who knows, maybe the habit is well entrenched. In just a month the earliest campground to open in the area has it's opening day - that's right - just a month! I'm not sure if we'll go the first day, but will try to get a night or two the following week (weather permitting of course - it is still a bit iffy that time of year). The campground is a small KOA, with not much walking available, but there is a really nice walk about 10 minutes drive away on the Gallup Canal which parallels the St. Lawrence seaway.

walking along the Gallup Canal
what can be seen of one of the many sunken
boats along the canal

 
I thought this Inspiration Peak a good quote to remember. It can be applied to how we train our pets as well, although they prefer to see their spirit of approval come in bite size chunks.
I have yet to find anyone, however exalted their station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.
Charles M. Schwab, 1862-1939
American Steel Magnate
Today's word of the day is vespertine (VESS-per-tyne adjective - 1: of, relating to, or occurring in the evening ; 2: active, flowering, or flourishing in the evening). I missed seeing the moon as it made it's grand vespertine entrance. The sky was clear the evening of the giant full moon but I had forgotten about it and went to bed early, before it's evening unveiling. I miss a lot of celestial events because of my early bedtime.

My pleasures today are all ones that I experience on a daily basis. It is good to keep being thankful for the small things in life: a good cup of coffee ; the water in the tub reflecting the sun ; the beautiful land that I live on ; sun shining into the house ; the birds overhead ; the song of summer birds returning here to nest ; the satisfaction of completing a little job ; the love of my husband ; and the list goes on.

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I missed two challenges, one for the 20th: Your biggest insecurity ; and the other for the 21st: Something you love about yourself. My biggest insecurity is probably my weight. I know it's shallow, and I hate being affected by the fashion industry, but there you have it. The crazy thing is that when I was much younger I looked great, hot even, but was sure I was too fat... I agonized over it... The other challenge missed is something you love about yourself - that could be my sense of humor, no, I think it would be my ability to see both sides of an argument or issue.

31 Day Challenge for March 22nd is "your favorite holiday".

Helena and I near the end of the
drive - civilization
encroaching.
It was a very sad day to see
Medicine Hat emerge in the distance.
Hands down, without question, the 1996 Centennial Western Stock Growers Association Cattle Drive. I can't imagine another vacation coming even close. The cattle drive took place in Southern Alberta, starting on the property just south of my great-grandparents homestead. The trip was a voyage back in time to explore my roots and experience the landscape that my ancestors lived in. We were 1500 riders, riding four days riding through CFB Suffield also known as the British Block. CFB Suffield is a huge unpopulated area used by the military for tank practice. There was so much space that the 1500 riders dispersed such that it seemed there wasn't even another soul around. We didn't see a home or even a road till the last of those four days.
The meals were catered with filling breakfasts, a bagged lunch to carry with us on the horses and of course a beef supper. There were trucks that carried our gear from camp spot to camp spot. Everything was well organized and professionally done (the group of people who organized it were a bunch of ranching folks with no experience in these things - they did a marvelous job). I went with my friend Deirdre, and Helena, the woman I bought my first two horses from.

This was a magical experience for many people. Every night there was a stage for participants to share their experiences. Old ranchers remembered what the open ranges were like, young cowboys wrote poetry about their prairie mistress, musicians wrote songs extolling the beauty of the wild open spaces. I talked to farmers, ranchers and even real cowboys and everyone was wrapped up in the magic of the prairie. I think that the prairie, unlike any other landscape, affects people on a visceral level - the barren wildness evokes strong emotional responses.


 
As we rode across the open expanses of grassy prairie you could imagine what it was like for settlers in the early days. I have always loved the prairies more than words can tell. The sights and smells of the grass and sage bring a welling of emotion. It really is where I'm meant to be (not in Eastern Ontario with its dairy farms and cornfields.) Four days riding through this landscape was, well, incredible. The last day we rode through Medicine Hat, through downtown and on to the fair grounds. It was an exciting but bitter-sweet ending to the best holiday ever. It is hard for me to even write about it without feeling a yearning combined with a sadness for what is being missed. It is a sure way to bring tears to my eyes.

This is my favorite photo of me. Unfortunately the colour has altered
from being in a frame for too long. I hope I can find the negative.