Prince Albert Voice
When I was a little girl, growing up at Candle Lake, hot weather never bothered me at all. Once I hit my teens, bronchitis hit me like a sledge hammer in my lungs every February and it never really cleared up until May or June. And once the bronchitis was gone, hot and humid weather hit and I had trouble breathing for another set of reasons. Prior to my teens, weather didn’t seem to bother me much. And for the last decade or two, I have not had very much adverse reaction to the weather as far as breathing goes. Until this summer. Perhaps one of the reasons I’m noticing how difficult it is to breathe is due to the humidity. We seem to have two temperatures this summer: rainy/cold and sunny/hot/humid. There doesn’t seem to be a moderate in between where we can all just be comfortable. The challenge of hot and humid has led me to explore some easy, at home solutions to helping me stay cool. Hopefully you will be able to use some of these ideas to help you find your cool zone too.
It’s my favourite time of the summer season. We have just finished the strawberry harvest and now the blueberries and saskatoons are ripe and practically throwing themselves into buckets as people find their patch and load up. I see people in ditches, diligently gathering grass to braid and dry and it makes me think how grateful I am to live in Saskatchewan. A lot of people comment that “Saskatchewan is so flat!” Maybe that’s true in the south but from the Qu’Appelle Valley north, I would say that assessment is very wrong. Have you ever travelled from Blaine Lake to Saskatoon? It has some of the most beautiful rolling hills I’ve ever seen. Or have you been down the valley to look at Saskatchewan’s oldest tree? It’s worth the drive just to see the scenery. Hills roll into farm land and then, the epic ending to your journey is a beautiful giant tree with a sign posted giving information on the history of how it came to be there.
My Dad loved auction sales. He’d return from work on Friday night, and Saturday morning we’d all wake up early to have breakfast and prepare for our trip to Prince Albert from Candle Lake. Part of the preparation included perusing the Prince Albert Shopper to read the auction sale listings. One of us children would read where the auction sale was taking place, the time the sale started and then the list of items up for auction. Sometimes we’d visit four auction sales in a single morning and still attend another in the afternoon. All six of us kids looked forward to going to the city. It meant an opportunity to go shopping for groceries, school supplies to complete assignments or just to see something different. For my father, it meant going to Leon Gobeil’s Highway Auction for the afternoon. If you have ever been to an auction in our area, you’ll likely remember seeing my father, casually leaning against an item he planned to bid on with a cup of coffee in his hand and a smile on his face, his trade mark red hard hat securely affixed on his head. Everyone knew my dad from his hard hat! And I grew up not liking auction sales because they were boring.
He told me it was the last day he could hunt Moose and he’d already been up before the sun, trekking the animal that he hoped would feed his family and Elders in his community. He tried to forget the discouragement that had begun to set in over the last couple of weeks as each day he came home empty handed, no food for the table and no meat for the freezer. As the frost began to burn off with the rising of the sun, he came into a clearing. Surrounded by trees and shrubs of every height, he took a moment to draw in a quiet, deep breath. He prayed and urged his heart to not beat quite so loudly in his chest so he could listen for the Moose he hunted, maybe catch its scent or even hear the big animal’s breathing and munching as it foraged for food, just like the hunter. When he opened his eyes, there stood the Moose, looking at him. They observed one another for quite a few seconds and the hunter understood – the Moose was sacrificing itself. It understood hunger as well. The hunter quickly raised his rifle and one shot cut through the air as the big animal hit the ground with a heavy, solid ‘thunk.’ The hunter quickly walked to the animal as he watched its last breath frostily fill the air. He thanked the animal for its life and for the meat and clothing it would provide. Not one part of the Moose would go to waste and the hunter left an offering of tobacco as he set to work preparing the Moose for harvest.
You may find this difficult to understand but I collect rocks. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved rocks. I hold them in my hand and I keep the ones that feel ‘just right’ and bring me happiness and comfort. When I was a young girl, I’d collect them all week long and take them, as gifts, to my Uncle Lambert, a man I adored and still hold in high esteem in my heart, even though he’s since passed. Later, as years went by and we were reminiscing, Uncle Lambert would recall with a laugh, “If it was shiny and it sparkled, you’d pick it up or buy it!” One of the reasons I love rocks so much is that they remind me of him. He had more than an avid interest in them and he could talk for hours about them. It was my Uncle Lambert who took me to my first rock show in Prince Albert. It was held in the old PA Arts building, just off Central Avenue. Now the building is closed and has been undergoing the slowest renovations I’ve seen over the last decade or two. Hopefully the building can be declared a historical landmark worth restoring to its original beauty and charm. In the meantime, I’ll keep picking up stones and rocks and deliver them every once in a while to my Uncle’s final resting place. Hopefully one day he will wake up and see the wonderful collection I’ve accumulated for his perusal.