1) the ash among the Mitchell homestead
I spent Sunday through Wednesday in Alberta. Firstly in Calgary before moving on to a wee camp outside Cochrane and finally a quick visit to Edmonton before flying home. While near Cochrane I had the honour of staying at W.O. Mitchell’s homestead. Born in Saskatchewan, Mitchell (often known as the Mark Twain of Canada) is best known for his iconic 1947 novel, Who Has Seen the Wind, which chronicles the life of young Brian O’Connal growing up in small town Depression-era Saskatchewan.
2) the home where I bunked the night; 3) early the next morning … snow has fallen
4) always take the path less trodden; 5) my bed for the night
6 & 7) there is a small library with a memorial to Mitchell; 8) the next morning, a mule deer eyes me
9) on the porch; 10) the main room
The Globe & Mail quite rightly called this novel, required reading for all Canadian high schoolers, “One of the finest Canadian novels ever written”. Here, here!
The novel has never been better quoted – set to Joni Mitchell’s song, Both Sides Now – then during the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. As Donald Sutherland reads, you get a sense of the devasting lesson life under the big flat sky of the prairies births, even to young boys.
I would walk to the end of the street and over the prairie with the clickety grasshoppers bunging in arcs ahead of me, and I could hear the hum and twang of wind in the great prairie harp of telephone wires. Standing there with the total thrust of prairie sun on my vulnerable head, I guess I learned – at a very young age – that I was mortal.
W.O. Mitchell, Who Has Seen the Wind
And spending a night there, amid the paths and trees he wandered, and rising to the the season’s first snow settling on the ash and pine, I understand. I understand.
10) the snow falls … a short video I took
11) do you see the wind?….