Three Huggers and Sheerness

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The prairies do not allow for tourist consumers. Only participants. You must live the changing of seasons, bask in the rising and setting of their sun and be sustained by the rich soil to know their beauty.

Isn’t that perfect? I drove two-and-a-half hours, mostly on gravel roads, to take my daughter to a fiddle lesson last week and I couldn’t stop thinking about dear Sheerness. If you know the prairies, you’ll know why this speaks to me. I even stopped to take a picture of the narrow grid road, the slough and the sky, but it didn’t turn out quite like the one my brother-in-law took above.

The photo and caption are taken from Three Hugger’s Instagram account, run by my sister and her husband. Tara and her family own a small family business, making beeswax food-wraps (a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap/baggies), and just spent the last 7 weeks on the road. They drove thousands of miles, parked their camper at truck stops, parking lots and campgrounds, hiked, surfed, explored and sold their wares on the road. Just like that. Which is just like Tara.

If I were going to undertake such a huge adventure I’d do it with much more hubris; I’d announce plans far and wide beforehand, complain loudly about all the packing and then make a big deal about everything. But not Tara. She just does things like this. Come up with a product the whole family can make? No problem. Pull a camper around the continent with a Honda mini-van? Done. Sign-up for festivals everywhere, from San Diego, CA, to Canmore, AB? Check. Make it all look easy and fun, in the most unpretentious and humble way possible? Certainly. That’s my sister.

They are on the last leg of their journey, and just spent the weekend at our place on their drive east. Check out their Instagram, Facebook and Etsy site for more on their wraps and adventures.

PS. I’ve never been to Sheerness but I still want to frame that photo and put it on my wall.

Here

Here

I’ve hiked Andean mountain passes that plunge into lush jungle
I’ve followed wild rivers through the tundra and bathed in their remote falls
I’ve canoed on pristine lakes alongside moose, eagles, and river otters
I’ve poked at anemones and starfish in Pacific tidal pools
I’ve driven down red dirt roads of Prince Edward Island
I’ve posed for photo ops in front of the Swiss Alps
I’ve played in the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean sea

And yet

a long blade
of dying grass
curled
and golden
in the autumn sun
is as beautiful a thing as I have ever seen

-Tricia Friesen Reed

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This could be… Saskatchewan

Do you ever compare where you are to another place? I do it all the time; maybe because it lends appeal to where I happen to be. It makes the ordinary more exotic. For example, I love the month of June in the valley where I grew up. Every year in early summer the rolling fields are carpeted with green shoots of wheat, as if God tips a jar of paint over, letting it drip off the poplars and pool on the land before cleaning it up with July’s dry sun. “It’s just like Ireland,” I’d sigh when I was a teenager, feeling very lucky to live in place so similar to the Emerald Isle. The fact I’d never been to Ireland never dampened my enthusiasm for the comparison.

Now, years later, I still haven’t dropped the habit. When I go to our nearest beach and watch the kids tumble down sand dunes or spot them diving into the waves, I’m reminded of the coast of Maine–not that I’ve ever visited the shore there, of course. None the less, I like to remind whoever I’m with that we could be on the coast. And that despite the logistics (we’re more than 2,000 miles inland), the way we feel when we scrunch the sand between our toes would be no different if we actually were on the Eastern seaboard.

European destinations are among my favourites to bring up; any cafe with outdoor seating qualifies for a mention of France or Italy, and skiing on our local golf course conjures up visions of Norwegian fjords. Suggesting these faraway places enhances the whole experience as long as I don’t bother with the nitty-gritty details of the similes. It’s kind of like adding accessories to a plain black dress; geographical name-dropping adds flair to our outings.

This past Saturday, while checking out a trap-line, I was tempted to do it again: Hey, we could be in the Russian taiga! (Have you watched Happy People on Netflix?) But I decided not to. The snow was falling softly, a buck and several doe sailed through a field nearby, Vivian fell asleep to the hum of the snowmobile–sandwiched between her mom and dad, the big girls were yelping and shrieking in the toboggan we pulled behind us, dry spruce tinder set our bonfire ablaze, and the wind stung our faces out in the open stretches. We were definitely in Saskatchewan…

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Our friends, Shelly and Jason, took us to another friend’s place to run his trap-line with him. He didn’t get anything that day but we got to see how he set his traps, and have some fun in the bush.

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Susanna learned how to drive Ainsly’s skidoo. Here she is with instructor Shelly.

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Belén and Vivi at a bonfire pit-stop.

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And it was right where I wanted to be.

Tricia