The Wind Through Empty Spaces

abandoned farm house

This morning I awoke to such a heavy dew on the tent that it took almost 45 minutes in the morning sun to clear the tent of moisture. But that was the last time in the day that too much moisture was a problem. We set out and about an hour into the walking realized what was different: for the first time in three days we were not walking into a stiff westerly breeze. The last two days, it’s been difficult even to hear one another over the constant, buffeting, hot wind. I borrowed some earplugs from a local SK author at our community event, just so I could keep my ears from ringing in the wind. So, of course, today there was almost no wind.

By the afternoon we were praying for even just a slight breeze to cool us off. The lark buntings and kildeers were prancing up and down ahead of us on the dirt road, and in the mud we could see tracks of coyote and deer. We stopped in an abandoned farmhouse, chasing the reluctant cattle away so we could find the only shade for miles, where I conducted a phone interview with a Saskatoon Talk Show, the John Gormley show. The wind had been active there too, bleaching boards and wearing away at the lathe and plaster walls. The four of us walkers peered through the windows, and tried to decipher the clues that might tell the history of who had lived there, what they liked, their thoughts and dreams, and why they left.

Tonight at our second community event someone asked me what animals we’ve seen. When I mentioned that we had watched a badger lumbering away from us two days ago, she clucked her tongue: “that means there’s going to be rain,” she said. “That would be too bad for your walk.” Then she smiled. “But good for the rest of us!”

4 replies on “The Wind Through Empty Spaces”

What an adventure. Thank you for blogging and sharing your experience as you travel this rugged path. I don’t think anyone would have realized how tough the journey was going to be. Your photo of the abandoned farm house brings to mind a ‘walkabout’ that Aboriginal Australians take to travel the paths of their ancestors. As a photographer, I am very envious of the amazing scenery and photographic story telling opportunities on this journey!
As Hayden’s mum, I am looking forward to seeing all his photos!
Safe travels and happy trails.

Hi Laurie, thanks for the comment – and for reading. Hayden has been such an asset on this trip and he’s learning the prairies close-up (nothing like crawling under barbed wire for that!). It’s been a privilege to have him along. Your comments on walkabouts coincide with some of what we’ve been talking about here, so if I can find time and wifi may blog about that. I like your photo blog as well – Matthew

At this point you were exactly three miles north of where we live. Robert Hannon came from Ontario looking for good farm land in 1910. He homesteaded one place , sold it, lived on another farm, and then settled on this place. He married Elsie Williams in 1915 and they built a house like many Ontario houses. It was a two story house with small rooms that included a parlor, dining room and pantry. Elsie was not well. Two nieces from Ontario Ethel and Verna Williams came to stay and became part of the family. Elsie died in 1943. Bill was young and remembers well the funeral held in the house.. He didn’t like the “viewing” of the open casket in the parlor. A few years later Robert married the widow on the next farm, Mabel Thomson. They moved to Moose Jaw. Ethel Williams had married the hired man Frank Wilson.(No relative of ours) They farmed the land for awhile.The Wilsons and Verna and Frank’s son Jimmy moved to Swift Current. The house has not been lived in since then. The Cameron family lived in that yard in a house trailer in the 1990s. At that time the house started to be demolished. There was lots of good wood- floors, doors and baseboards. It was reclaimed and used for other houses and projects. The top story was removed. The remains of the old house are still there today. Robert Hannon had a 1927 Pontiac car. Bill has used parts of it and parts of another car to build a 1927 Pontiac car. It is very close to being on the road again. Some day the house will be gone but parts of it will be used for awhile.

Hi Audrey – thanks for letting me know the history of that spot. It was one of several where we stayed a bit, and wondered what sort of life, or lives, had been lived there. It did look like it was a substantial house in its day. It’s interesting to know some of how it got to be the place where we took shelter from the beating sun! We’re in Eastend now and taking a day off from walking tomorrow (but a day full of community events). Hope you’re well!

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