After ticking off all the things on my ‘to do’ list in the city, I got ready to make a solstice piece. The plan was Mud Butte. I had been watching the weather and speaking with my contact in the area – I loved the possibilities of the wide open prairie and unimpeded views for the longest day of the year. So on June 19th I left Calgary once again and headed north and east, staying just outside of Hanna at Fox Lake, a beautiful wetland campground for the first night. After an early start the next morning, I drove a different route through Coronation on my way to Gooseberry Provincial park. When I arrived, I explored the park for installation possibilities, it was very hot and just a whisper of a breeze. After ascertaining that an install anywhere within the park would be difficult at best, I returned to my campsite and started assembling pieces for my solstice piece the next day. As I made them I bundled them and put them outside under the picnic table to give me more room to move in the RV. Around 9:30p totally out of nowhere a storm blew in, I scrambled in the rain to cover and weight everything down, then hoped for the best. The storm seemed to last forever, I lost power at one point. The shear viciousness of the thunder, lightning and wind was terrifying!
I finally fell asleep around midnight when the worst of the storm seemed to have subsided. In the morning there was blue sky, sunshine and debris – everywhere. But my pieces survived – I was happy!
However it was still very windy, and even though the drive to Consort was challenging I decided to continue with my plan to put up a solstice piece at Mud Butte…
surely the wind would die down at some point and when it did I would be ready!
On the way to mud Butte relentless wind!
Here’s what I wrote while waiting for the wind to die down:
June 21 2017
I have been sitting on top of Mud Butte in the special areas of AB, just S of Consort, N of Oyen since 11:30 this morning. It is now 7p and there has been no sign of the wind even remotely letting up. Initially when I got here I went and scouted around, looking for the best possibilities. The sun was hot and intense, the wind cold and vicious, I could barely stand without being blown over. While I waited, I spent the day mending my sweater, going through paper work, purged, consolidated everything, read some online stuff that I had been saving for a rainy day, meditated, it has been a very productive day, even if it wasn’t what I had planned.
It seems as though the wind is getting worse, even though the storm seems to be mostly south and west. I am going to continue to wait, as long as it doesn’t rain, maybe it will be an early morning install!
Clouds & sky Mud Butte AB Summer solstice June 21st waiting for the wind to stop
June 22 2:15p
Well I ended up waiting until 4a, then raindrops on the roof woke me. My contact had warned me to leave at the first sign of rain, getting stuck was a real possibility.
I’d had some teenage visitors around 8:30p. I didn’t get that they were malicious, just obnoxious. Another car showed up shortly after the first one, I was thinking if they were going to party that I would leave. Instead they went down into the butte and stayed pretty much to themselves. Eventually they left, after the sunset, sometime around 10p, but I became hypersensitive to more people coming….what if?
By this time I’m committed to staying and doing an early morning piece – when the wind stopped! surely it would stop!
I dozed off and on. I thought I would see amazing stars, but it never really get dark until around 2a. The big dipper was so close, it felt as though I could reach out and touch it. When the clouds came in shortly after, the rain followed. The wind just kept howling. I quickly secured everything, shut off my propane and headed south to Oyen where the tourist information centre would be open at 9. I could check the forecast, and decide what to do next. I arrived at 5:30a just ahead of the storm, the wind had been pushing me all the way. I parked, made a cup of coffee, and then slept until 9:30a. The weather was looking bad everywhere, so I decided to stay put and wait for the storm to pass. I checked into Satori campground, met the owner Jerry Kuhn who had some interesting stories about the area, had B/F, showered did some writing and slept some more, then had dinner, meditated and started thinking about what next.
After checking the weather report again, I decided to go south and give Empress another try. Jerry Kuhn had mentioned a medicine wheel that had piqued my interest, and I thought if anyone knew how to get to it, it would be Pat Donaldson. So off I went. The rain had stopped, even if the wind had not, it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. The windshield had been completely washed of all the bugs by the intense rain, the sky was blue and clear, it would be a great driving day!
After meandering around Acadia Valley and checking out the municipal dam again, I arrived in Empress and went straight to That’s Empressive to see what Pat had to say about the medicine wheel. She knew exactly what I was talking about and gave me the person’s name and number to contact. She introduced me to another woman from Kindersley who used to farm in the area, who was also a wealth of information. We had a long visit and interesting conversations. By the time I parked Bill and hooked up at Pete Fiddler campground it was 3:30p.
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting caught up with phone calls home. Talking on the phone was a way to not have to listen to the relentless howling wind…would it ever stop?
I just watched the sunset in the Red Deer River valley – glorious sunset – not a cloud in the sky, after tumultuous clouds and rain on and off throughout the day –
Now it’s like a different day altogether. Two days ago I was on top of Mud Butte waiting for the wind to stop, and now the silence is so silent – I strain to hear something- anything – yet I hear nothing – the kind of silence that is deafening –
The valley and the river that I overlook is exquisite – islands, sandbars in the middle of the river – gets my imagination soaring –
I’m sitting in the dark not wanting to disturb anything –
even pen on paper seems loud –
I am going to stop writing so I can absorb this awesomeness –
just be in it – memorize it
Just BE where I am
BE the silence!
Red Deer River Valley AB Pete Fiddler campground Empress AB
I woke up to watch the sun rise and the sky fill with light, then dozed again until 8a. I was still unsure as to where to go next, so I made a call to a shaman friend in Coleman who knows about medicine wheels and sacred sites. After a long conversation, I decided that I would create a piece at Sundial Medicine wheel around Carmanguay AB, instead of trying to find this other one, but first I would go to the Great Sandhill dunes in Sask. The weather was looking good south and east.
I stayed another day in Empress, assembled a couple hundred more pieces and reorganized how I travel in the RV, ready to head out again tomorrow.
All images © Louise Pagé 2017