A love letter to the prairies
|Image + words by Lynette Suchar|
Saskatoon was always my small hometown that I had to leave. It felt stifling. There wasn’t enough adventure. I’ve moved around and lived in Calgary, Toronto, Mexico, Montreal, and yet, here I am, back in Saskatoon. This move back was because of work opportunities but a few years after returning, I find myself, for the first time in my life, with roots here. I feel a strong sense of community that I’ve never felt before. I have authentic, loving friendships. Professionally, I’m contributing to society in a way I never imagined would happen here. I’ve heard stories from many people who left their own prairie hometown for bigger and better things, only to be drawn back home.
So what is this pull? There is an energy about this part of the world that is very grounding. If one isn’t careful, it is easy to become complacent and feel stuck, which happens in a place of comfort, like any long-term relationship. But if you are the kind of person who is curious and has a desire to learn and grow, this energy that has pulled you to back to the prairies fuels a fire within. There is a magic to the prairies that can’t be denied. The thing is, it’s a subtle magical friend, not an in-your-face attention seeker. The prairies tease you back, offering you a blank canvas, an opportunity with the colours of comfort and possibility. What you choose to see and create is up to you.
But maybe we have to leave this land in order to appreciate the vast beauty. The prairies are made up of a strong and stable foundation that allows us to plant our feet firmly on the ground. And with strong roots we can fly freely. This foundation has allowed me to leave, take chances, learn about myself and other cultures. It has also taught me how to be an authentic person. I hear over and over that people from the prairies are so friendly. I never noticed that before either until I came back and was surprised by how often people nod, say hello, or ask how I’m doing. Little gestures, maybe not meant to be deeper than they are, but connecting gestures, nonetheless.
I spent a lot of my childhood on my grandparent’s farm, playing all day outside, helping my baba in the garden, and making up imaginary stories in the lilac bushes. I was exposed to an aspect of life that otherwise would’ve gone unnoticed: a freedom, an appreciation, a connection with nature. As an adult, I find the most peace and gratitude when I’m back on the country roads, driving to the farm or the family lake, knowing that the expansiveness ahead of me will refuel me.
Every summer, I crave the big blue skies with white and grey clouds hanging overhead, as though they were suspended from space by opaque strings, perfectly placed and gently floating above, lulling me into a deep meditation. I crave the golden yellow and deep violet fields that whiz past as I drive. And if I’m present enough to remember not to rush to get to where I’m going, if I can remember that the ride is the destination, not the last spot on the map, I will pull over to the side of the road, pull out my camera, take a deep breathe of the fresh, grassy, humid smell that can only be found on the road in the prairies, and I will capture the moment. Of course, I can only capture part of the sensory experience but every time I look at those photos, I can smell the air, and hear the singing birds, and feel the rumble of a grain truck rolling out to the field. For me this is peace, it fills my well, and allows me to carry on, travel to new places, and create a legacy. It gives me the confidence to know I always have this place to come home to, like arms wrapped around me, reminding me of what’s important and that everything will be okay.
When you’re in a place in your life where you can recognize the magic of the prairies, you don’t see the landscape as bleak and dull. You start to recognize the beauty of the openness that gives you the gift of space. This space allows you to exhale fully, to pause, to reflect on where you’ve come from and where you’d like to go. This space becomes the grandest adventure – spontaneity awaits as you jump in the car and drive on some country gravel road, alone or with your best friend. I know that no matter where I end up, I am so grateful to where I came from. Every time I look up to the living sky full of bright stars I know this place is special, maybe a secret kind of special that only those that are from here know. I love leaving but I love coming home.
Lynette can't wait to share her #prairielove with you at Prairie Love Festival, September 10 + 11 at FortWhyte Alive in Winnipeg. Click here to see Lynette's festival offerings.