Every year I have visited Barb and Jerry's farm I have taken a picture over this fence, picture of the rising sun - something of a tradition for me I guess.
I began packing up - gathering things that had exploded out of my bags when I arrived three days ago: cords and clothes, a book and camera and computer bits... soon all was where it was supposed to be...
All the coffee that could be drunk had been drank and there was nothing left to do but say good-bye. With hugs all around, I was on my way - south - with a heavy heart.
Before I reached Beiseker I was lonely. Missing my family. Already missing my friends. I sat on the side of the road and watched a crop dusting plane make a few runs over a field... gave a quiet word of thanksgiving for all who are a part of my life... and headed south.
Down the Deerfoot and across Memorial. Familiar roads from so long ago. Passing the Calgary Zoo my loneliness was mixed with nostalgia - remembering our first trip back with the boys - seeing images of them in various places at the Zoo knowing they would not be caught dead doing some of those things at the "cool" ages they are now... smiling to myself at the memories.
I negotiated my way to St. Matthew's United Church where my friend Paul Rumbolt was leading worship - a Cowboy Service - in recongnition of Stampede Week in Calgary. Paul preached a word to me. His text was Jesus' parable of the wheat and the weeds and he focused on the line "let them grow together". He spoke of how all of creation is filled with wheat and weed. good and bad, including us, and how we need to let them grow together - nurture the good - the weed will die in time. Part of the service included a sharing of the Cowboy's Prayer. I'd heard it before - but I heard it in a new way today. Not sure what it was - but it moved me.
Oh Lord, I've never lived where churches grow.
I loved creation better as it stood
That day You finished it so long ago
And looked upon Your work and called it good.
I know that others find You in the light
That's sifted down through tinted window panes,
And yet I seem to feel You near tonight
In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.
I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,
That You have made my freedom so complete;
That I'm no slave of whistle, clock or bell,
Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street,
Just let me live my life as I've begun
And give me work that's open to the sky;
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
And I won't ask a life that's soft or high.
Let me be easy on the man that's down;
Let me be square and generous with all.
I'm careless sometimes, Lord, when I'm in town,
But never let 'em say I'm mean or small!
Make me as big and open as the plains,
As honest as the hawse between my knees,
Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,
Free as the hawk that circles down the breeze!
Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.
You know about the reasons that are hid.
You understand the things that gall and fret;
You know me better than my mother did.
Just keep an eye on all that's done and said
And right me, sometimes, when I turn aside,
And guide me down the long, dim trail ahead
That stretches upward toward the Great Divide.
If there is a proper way to leave Alberta this is it - along the foothills. Here the memory of the praire stays with you on your left as you head south - and the rolling foothills invite you to a new place - new heights of being with new perspectives on the world.
Was I the only one going south? The traffic heading north was bumper to bumper. All those lucky people returning to Calgary for work on Monday morning!
Past Frank Slide, through Crowsnest Pass and the road starts to unfurl into a series of sweeping turns that draw you in and demands all your focus. Sparwood, Fernie, Elko and the turns keep coming.
Onward into sun that was starting to brush the tips of the mountains that lie before me. Along the Moyie River, passing Yahik, shivering each time I crossed the river - struck by the washes of cooler air.
In Creston my stomach called and I needed food. ABC Country, right on the west end of town beckoned with a burger special. Eating my burger I contemplated the map and wondered where I would stop for the evening? Salmo I said to myself. A group of Gold Wing riders arrived as I was leaving and conversation with them confirmed my plans. They had left Vernon that morning and were just getting in now. They told me there were lots of campgrounds ahead.
Finally, as the sun began to slip behind the higher peaks I found a place to stay - Karibu Park Cottages and Campground, just north of Slocan Park in a little community called Winlaw.
I no sooner had the tent up and got back from a shower and settled into my sleeping back and the storm started. Lightening so loud the ground shook. And lightening so bright I could have read a book! The thunder would roll and then it would be as if someone was flicking the light switch! I wondered briefly how safe I was in such a situation... I fell asleep counting the seconds between the thunder and the lightening... on the Sabbath Road...
PS: Jerry and Barb, thanks for all you are, and all you have done for me. Not just on this visit, but on all the other visits as well! I count you as my two closest friends and cherish you deeply. Hugs!!
The route from Calgary to Fernie was not recorded.
The GPS was off so I could charge camera batteries.