Canadian Road Trip

Checkerboard squares of lush rolling farmland,
fields of mushrooms, strawberries and corn,
solitary silos and lonely red barns,
tall, slender windmills,
stark white against blue,
their graceful limbs turning
and churning up wind.

Emerald pastures, rimmed all about
with white picket fences where horses writhe
on cool verdant grasses, with hooves wildly flailing,
relieving an itch or two,
while frisky young foals frolic and kick,
then sprint to the fence in a mad, manic moment.
Lazy, fat cows, content with their cud,
swishing tails swatting the pesky pests
that light on their hides now and then.

Fields overflowing with crops, overcrowded,
give way to the wild-flowered woodlots and forests
where white birch and pine
stand stately and tall
on the rocky Canadian Shield.

The edge of the shield begins to appear,
with ledges of colourful striated rock.
Pinkish and grey and brownish and black,
sparkling with crystals of quartz.

Then come the lakes – the clusters of lakes,
bits of blue peek between maples and pines.
Placid and peaceful, pastel or deep blue,
adorned with their loons with their babes on their backs,
crooning their sad, soulful song.

Deeper and deeper into the forests
the outcrops of boulders now grow into walls
and cliffs overhanging the calm, tranquil lakes
that sleep at their cold, rocky feet.
The trees, growing shorter, are farther apart now,
the lakes disappearing,
the blue and green fading.
We are leaving the shield
as the forest gives way
to the wheat fields of great Manitoba.

Wheat fields are golden
with soft, yellow grasses
that flow in a dance with the wind.
Blackbirds and ravens make dark silhouettes
on the tops of the fence posts
while young, hunting hawks glide above.

Prairie dogs prowl, then sit up at attention,
their small noses sniffing the soft, prairie breezes
that blow very gently
‘cross acres of wheat,
ever golden and bright in the sun.
Wide open spaces
with nothing to break up the view
but the birds on the posts.

Wheat fields are gone as Alberta appears –
the land of the endless Big Sky.
Eternal horizons in blue panorama
as far as the eye can see.

Then off in the distance
majestic, tall shapes
growing larger and looming,
the grand Rocky Mountains,
beckoning, beckoning -
come into my fold,
be cocooned in a womb
of towering rock,
enveloped, surrounded,
swallowed and safe.

Cascading waterfalls
cut through the rock face,
veils of white silk
on a mountainous cliff.

Salmon are leaping in clear rushing streams
where big-antlered moose wade in to their knees
and black bears scoop fish with one paw.
Eagles soar silently ‘tween snow-tipped peaks,
jagged and pointy, protruding through mist.
Coyotes and cougars continue their hunt,
preying upon the unwary.

From farmland to forests,
from forests to wheat fields,
from prairies and Big Sky
to mountainous terrain,
from ocean to ocean,
this great land of contrasts,
a wondrous wonder,
a breathtaking vista,
such beauty, with awe to behold.

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