To get to spend time this week right in the heart of it, standing and gazing at it, walking through it, the sounds of it crunching below my feet, touching it, smelling it (antihistamines included, of course) – in the gloriously warm autumn sunshine, the sound of geese overhead, I swear it has unlocked levels of my soul, and given me peace I haven’t felt in ages. I don’t want to leave. At all. I think I like it better than, even, the ocean. This great expanse, and what it does to the sky and the clouds, what it tells you about the nuance of colours and shades, and what it does to elevate the spirit.
But my fortune is even great than that, this time, because not only have I been treated with hospitality and cheerfulness, and hosted for two performances, but the man who has been showing me around these parts, is both a professor of agricultural economics and a third-generation farmer himself. And that, my friends, is an exquisite and important combination, because he has zoom-out understanding, and zoom-in understanding, and their interplay is the crux of it all.
My friends, farming is everything. It is about feeding the world, it is about climate, it is about development, experimentation, ingenuity, inventiveness, communication, attention to details, attention to trends and patterns, it is about nature and humanity and how they interact. And to have him rub some wheat between his palms to separate it and show me the grains, hand them to me, and have me see them, hold them, smell them, taste them – while he talked about so many aspects – has been nothing short of profound.
What more, there are the personal stories of the farmers. Their arrival as homesteaders, their migration, their backgrounds, their stories of survival. Yes, there is the story of colonialization here too, how they were part of that bigger picture, and what that has meant here on the ground. There are their stories of families, their tragedies, the stories of mental health and medical history, the story of the stubborn and the sick, the stories of births and deaths, departures and returns.
And these all intersect. The land and the people are woven together.
If I were a historian, an anthropologist, a meteorologist, a biologist, a psychologist, a zoologist, an economist, a painter, a poet, a songstress…. Everything I would ever need is right here.
I don’t want to leave you, Saskatchewan. But I must continue on….
Thankfully you liked me a little too, so we can meet again, soon.