I grew up in the city of Regina, the home of the RCMP. My roots are firmly planted on our farm near West Bend, Saskatchewan. I remember grain elevators that stood tall and proud. Oceans of mustard, canola and wheat and the smell of fresh baked Cinnamon buns. West Bend is 6 miles from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, and 28 miles from Wadena where Pamela Wallin grew up.Every summer and special occasions, we would venture out to the farm. Truth be told, I never worked a day of farming in my life. We played pirate ship on my grandfather's hay wagon and ate out of the garden at will. We chased rabbits in the winter and tried to snare us a gopher in the summer. We breathed in the air and ran for miles. I asked important questions, like why don't the cows sink in the mud?
My grandmother had at the ready freshly baked buns and store bought milk and ice cream. (We didn't like the cow's milk.) We played in the slough, fishing frogs out of the mud by hand. We slopped the hogs and chased the chickens. I learned to gather chicken eggs for my grandmother without getting my hands pecked. Here's the tip: palm up, then turn and take the eggs.Model Farm, was the gathering place for all occasions and it was exotic to me. This church seemed to have the tallest ceiling in the world, with gold and silver, and intricate paintings. Mind you, I was 3 feet tall.
|Model Farm: The Gathering Place still stands today|
The service was spoken in Ukrainian so I have to admit, I did not understand a word. But I was in awe, none the less. I remember in preparation for Easter Sunday, my grandmother Kate would take a big basket of food to the church to be blessed. I felt like we were the richest people in the world. I felt sorry for other city kids who didn't have a farm.
|Model Farm, West Bend -|
the tallest ceiling in the world when I was 3.
|Our farm house used to stand here. These trees were behind the house.|
West Bend is now a hamlet. Very few people live there. Model Farm is still there and is still being loved and cared for.
|My daughter Caitlyn visiting Model Farm.|
|Once a bustling town, West Bend is on its way to a relic of yesterday.|
As mighty pirates on my grandfather's hay wagon, the art of creativity and invention became a part of life. I learned the pioneering spirit of my grandparents. And yes, I learned to persevere. Sometimes too much.
Rural Saskatchewan has changed with the economy. Farms are larger and industrial. The economy has diversified. Mining is in. It's not sad. It's just different. The land has a different meaning and purpose than it did.
An evolution has occurred in the human experience. Today, someone asked me, what did we do without the Internet? I answered, we had a smaller perspective. And maybe a kinder one. My perspective was a blue sky and a mohair couch in my grandmother's living room with channel 3 and Ed Sullivan.
|A family photo shoot for Mother's Day in 2010 in a farmer's field.|
Although my daughters grew up in the city and have no real memory of a family farm, we have a memory of the land and a memento of the tradition. Last Mother's Day, my daughters arranged a photo shoot in a farmer's field. We drove a couch out to the field, a chair, and spent the morning playing. For that morning, the farm life that I loved as a child came alive again.
My daughters, now 25 and 22, have grown up in the information age, ruled by cell phones, texting and the world wide web. I had a red telephone in my room to coordinate with my black and white velvet flocked wall paper.
I never felt poor, because my frame of reference was the community in which I lived. Today's children have access to more products than ever before, all at their finger tips. Their first house will cost them over $250,000; mine cost $36,000.
I faced the occasional school ground teasing, and they face cyber bullies who cowardly operate under pseudonyms. Social media has bypassed the power of the conventional media, and politicians now Twitter. How is anyone supposed to get the whole picture, I wonder? Do you really feel informed by Twittering politicians? Has Twittering lowered the bar assuming the masses will get the message, or will the message be lost in all the noise?
Change is happening. But what are we changing to. Do we know the path, or are we just walking it? What are the values, traditions and conventions that we will hold near and dear, and what will our children's children learn through our actions? What are we learning by being "on" all day long. What price have we paid in raising our families this way? What are the ramifications of instantaneous politics? Do we know where we are going to, and do we know when we will get there. Do we know what we are giving up, and are we OK with that?