As much fun as it can be to revisit your own memories and youthful haunts, I also enjoy witnessing those moments when your friend’s do it. Last summer we took a trip to Saskatchewan with some friends. One of them grew up in the area near Elbow Saskatchewan, and was recounting tales of past shenanigans and showing us some of the spots where him and his buddies used to hang out. Six of us (four adults and two kids) piled into his van one morning and we took a drive to the Quapelle Damn on Lake Diefenbaker. Then he spied an unmarked truck trail that ran parallel to the lake through some tall grass and trees. We took this ‘road’ just to see where it lead, trespassing be damned! The trail soon petered out into even taller grass so he spied an open patch he could turn the vehicle around in, but then someone had to pee so we got out of the vehicle to see if there was anything to see. We found a well worn foot path through the grass and down the dune to a very lovely beach below.
It was a very blustery July day; the kind where a toque and mitts and a slightly warmer layer would have been a welcome addition to help buffet the wind. Once you went down the path the dune acted as a windbreak, so it was pleasant to sit in it’s shadow with your back to it, toes in the sand, facing the tumultuous waters of Lake Diefenbaker. The sun tried to shine but there were too many clouds darting across its path to bring any warmth to the day. I wandered away from the group and took a walk back towards the dam we crossed in the vehicle, combing the beach for any interesting tidbits the wind might have helped the lake give up. I found some interesting stones, some coral-shaped formations made out of the sand and scattered all over the beach, some spent shotgun shells, feathers, but not much else. When I wandered as far as I wanted and turned around to head back, I was greeted with this sight:
Between the low ceiling of clouds overhead threatening rain at any moment, the wind making white-caps on the long stretch of pale beach, I was really confused for a moment as to where I was. There were gulls fighting the gale above us, shouting into the wind with their efforts. You could hear the water lapping loudly on the shore to the right and to the left tall grasses were dancing frantically in the wind on top of the dune. It could have been the ocean! For a moment I was transported back to Weymouth in England, or West Mabou Beach in Cape Breton. The only detail missing was the tang of salt in the air! It was incredible. The previous day Jason and I spent basking in the sun on the opposite side of the lake. The water was calm and fairly warm, the sky mostly clear and you knew were definitely in the prairies. You could hear the native birds and the bugs and all the summery prairie sounds, but on this day the roar of the wind and water drowned all other sound out. If you closed your eyes, you’d swear you were seaside, not in southwestern Saskatchewan.
In the middle left of the painting are two figures off in the distance. That is Jason (the Bearded Dude or BD) and our friend Steve, who grew up in the area and was showing us around.
This is not the sea, but for a few mesmerizing moments that day, it really could’ve been!