When I was little, growing up on the farm, I remember my grandfather saying, "If times get tough we can always survive on east wind and rabbit tracks." Thankfully, it never came to that because I'm not sure it would have worked out well.
Here are some rabbit tracks, or snowshoe hare tracks, to be more precise, along with paw prints from some other little visitors to the farm yard.
Last weekend, I travelled to Saskatchewan to put my mother's body to rest in the ground of the prairie land that she loved, the landscape where she had lived her entire life.
The prairies have a singular beauty that the uninitiated (those from elsewhere) often miss. The lack of obvious visual activity, such as mountains or trees, causes those unfamiliar with the landscape to miss the finer details of the setting. For example, it never fails that when I visit the prairies I see far more wildlife than in any other locale, including the Rocky Mountains.
This trip was no exception. More than once we spotted husky, well-fed, and well-furred, coyotes loping across the stubble fields. Last fall was not a good one for the farmers as constant rain prevented them from bringing in their crops, many of which still lay in the fields, now covered with snow. However, this situation is a boon for coyotes and foxes because mice and other small rodents can have a field day in the windrows, making for good eats for the predators.
We also saw several herds of deer, many in number, and when we stopped the car to gaze at them they leapt, with ease, over a nearby fence, and trotted away.
There is a reason that Saskatchewan's slogan is, Land of Living Skies. Nowhere compares to the show that the sky puts on every morning and evening. The photo above was taken just prior to sunrise when the light painted the thin clouds in hues of burnt sienna and bright yellow.
In January, mornings come late and evening descends early, but in between the sky is clear and bright most days. Because the landscape is flat, you can't help but notice the sky. It is a presence. At night, we were blessed with a full moon.
Looking west from the farmhouse in the morning, that same old moon hung in the sky like it was reluctant to leave. This sky was a delicate watercolour wash of pink into lavender blue.
If you've ever wondered what southern Alberta looks like, wonder no more.
This shot was taken from the car window, hence the funny reflection. It was far too cold out to open the window while driving so I had to snap this on the fly.
Being away from home, for whatever reason, gives me time to reflect on my life and what direction I'm going with it. Losing my mom, while a sad time, has also signalled the end of a chapter in my life. (Officially, I'm an orphan now as my father passed away about two years ago.)
We arrived home late on Sunday night. By Monday morning I was sick with a deep chest cough and a fever. It has clung to me all week, I'm sure a result of accumulation of grief, stress, and lack of sleep. I needed the rest, but I didn't need to be sick.
I have had something on my mind for several months now, an idea that won't go away and keeps popping up again and again. Until now, I've made that idea sit on the sidelines as I worked on my clients' books and other projects. But leaving it to the leftover time in my days (of which there is extremely little) has meant not moving forward with something I think people will love, and that I believe has value.
I have decided that now that we're in a new year, it's time to pay attention to what is truly important for me. In fact, though I don't always do this, I felt compelled to choose a word to keep me focussed this year. It is, attention.
Paying attention to too many things, plenty of which don't even matter that highly to me, means that I don't have the energy to give attention to the important ones. So this year, I'm giving attention to what matters most and am beginning to eliminate what doesn't. There is only so much time and energy to go around. I want it to go to the right things.
Now that I'm back home, in the land of mountains, forests, and farms, my attention is turning to 2017 and its possibilities and promises.
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