May 23rd – May 30th

 

I left Waskesiu ahead of the storm that was brewing, hoping to get to Emma Lake before the rain. It was a cool, cloudy, windy day drive on the 263 –
who knows when I’ll be back?
sadness,  gratitude – simultaneously –

feeling the sense of place, of belonging, be – longing,  of home – expanding that feeling –
remembering,  re – remembering   – refuelling – filling up – filling up with  okori – source –

Arrived at Murray Point  Tuesday, May  23 just before 1p. This is a place I do remember, many of my favourite childhood memories live here, my connection to this geography grew in this place  –
The campground is closed and under construction. I drive around – the last time I was here was April 2011 in a snowstorm and before that, fall 2003 when I handed the keys to our family property over to the new owners. I had lived here for just under 2 years at the turn of the century. It had been a very rejuvenating and creative time on many levels – a non-grasping time as Gyō-zō would say. I loved almost everything about my time living there. Now the community is much changed – unrecognizable really. I drive around, check out the park, the dock, the beach…
I park by the old water pump and walk towards the Emma Lake art school at Okema beach. I wanted to put up a forest piece along the path. It was a common walk back and forth for cottagers, but more significantly, for me it was one that both my mom and I walked the summers we attended art camps, my mom in ’55, me in ’86.  I wanted to mark the path in some way, however the fallen trees, puddles, debris and neglect made navigating the forest impossible. The only spot was near a fork in the road near the water. Weather permitting I would consider it.
I stopped in to visit with some friends who offered to let me park in their driveway as long as I needed to. With severe weather warnings  for northern AB and SK, I decided to stay put. I made 100 more pieces and waited to see what the weather would bring.

May 24th
When the warnings were lifted in the morning, I attempted to install a piece at the spot I found yesterday, but had to abandon it 2/3 of the way through when it began to pour rain.

abandoned piece between Murray Point and Okema beach    May 24th 2017

Somewhat disappointed but not deterred, I decided to continue wandering and headed east and north to Candle Lake Provincial Park, where I had never been. Once again a difficult drive, lots of traffic, not particularly scenic and super windy.  When I arrived, there were white caps on the water, it was difficult just to walk around and explore. No one was at the campground to greet you, to take your money or show you around. (This would happen over and over again at provincial campgrounds in SK ) I found a site in a beautiful birch grove and hunkered down for the night, to wait out the storm.

Candle Lake Provincial Park SK

I woke around 3a to check what was happening with the weather. It was still windy and raining hard. I saw that a small vintage boler camper had arrived, it  must have been after I went to bed after 10p. They had parked right next to me – strange that I didn’t hear them arrive and that they would choose a spot right next to me, considering that the campground was empty save for one other RV! When I woke up at 6:30a the wind had died down, the rain had stopped… and the people next to me – gone! Were they ever there? dream? ghosts? The whole place felt creepy and I would say for the first time since I began this journey, I felt uneasy – hard to explain. I was out of there by 7a and on my way to PA, where I stocked up on groceries, before  heading  south on highway 2, driving through the countryside looking, seeing possibilities everywhere.
I stopped when I’d had enough of the wind and bad roads at Wakaw Lake Regional Park
I could have been in BC, you had no idea you were in the middle of the prairies. It was the perfect place to do laundry, have a shower, get caught up on wifi… and wait for the next phase of the storm to pass through which it did furiously until the next morning.

Wakaw Lake, SK

 

IMG_3548

May 26th – 30th
I was very close to Manitou beach, Canada’s dead sea / lake. I had been once with my mom years ago and was curious if there was a possibility around there. I was keeping an eye on the weather, and decided to stay for the weekend to wait for the winds to either stop or at least die down, which eventually happened on Tuesday morning.
I spent the time wandering through the town. I bought an old cheese box from the antiques dealer, met Michael Gaudet from GG’s gallery, Millie Strueby from Danceland hall… listening to the stories and history of the area. I walked through Wellington Park, which was beautiful, I could for sure see a piece in the creek. I spoke to Michael about it. I was thinking I could come  back for the Spirit of Manitou Studio Trail weekend in July. He and his wife were founding members of the event and he thought it would be fine to join in. I looked forward to it!  The lake was still too cold and the wind too fierce to go for a swim/float in the lake, so I spent time in the mineral pools which was a wonderful treat for my skin and my driving body!  I so appreciated seeing the cultural diversity of the visitors, people being drawn from all over to visit the healing waters.

Manitou beach, SK                             Wellington Park

When Tuesday morning came I felt rested and ready for what would come next.
I had read about the sand dunes at Douglas Provincial Park, so I headed south to explore the area. Another super stressful drive on roads that maps said were paved, but they suddenly turned into sand…major roads!!  ( truly third world roads in SK! )
I took a break in the small town of Elbow, at the junction where the dammed South Saskatchewan and Qu’appelle rivers come together to create Lake Diefenbaker. Once again I was blown away…in the middle of the prairies, sail boats, catamarans, 852kms of white sand beaches, water as far as the eye could see, golf courses…I could have been on the coast, it was surreal!

Endless water views                  Pelican spotting    Elbow SK

Caterpillar and gnat infestation       Douglas Provincial park SK

I arrived at Douglas provincial park around 3p, once again no one to greet me, take my $, or help me. It was too late and too hot to start a hike, so I found a place to park, got settled, and caught up on some computer work.
The park was infested with army caterpillars, I could hear them falling on the roof in the night…gross!!..and of course the usual mosquitoes and black flies… June in Sask!!
But I had power and water, and  was grateful not to be tenting. The wind had died down, earlier rains had cleared the air of dust, it was warm, Saskatchewan clouds filled the blue, blue sky…so much space, just when I think I couldn’t possibly feel more spacious,  I feel myself open and make room for more –

Louise
Okori

All images  © Louise Pagé     2017

 

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