Sentinels

The Gulch, Trail, BC (Darrell Noakes)

As long as I remember, these towering sentinels have stood watch over the town. At bedtime, I would gaze into the darkness to find reassurance in those patient silhouettes. Beneath them, the industry that gave the town its life and its livelihood banged and thumped and hummed hypnotically. Embraced in that lullaby, secure in the shadows of those dark sentinels, I could drift off to sleep.

It’s funny how the things we grew up with, become the familiar.  The rhythms we were born into stay with us all our lives. Continue reading

First storm of the winter

Broadway area of Saskatoon during the first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)

Broadway Bridge and downtown Saskatoon, first heavy snowfall of the winter, November 22, 2014 (Darrell Noakes)

The warnings started on Friday: Heavy snowfall, 10 – 15 cm of snow expected. After Friday’s freezing rain warnings, it would be best to listen to what Environment Canada had to say.

Snow started falling Saturday morning. Throughout the afternoon, periodically glancing at the weather radar consistently showed a large green blob, with Saskatoon dead in the centre. Well, at least it was a green blob, denoting only the lightest snowfall throughout the region. Outside the living room window, large flakes were drifting lazily toward the ground, occasionally whipped into a frenzy by gusts of strong wind. Continue reading

Winner: Gold Saskatchewan Article

It’s too bad we couldn’t be at the Western Magazine Awards gala in Vancouver this evening. I had been to two awards banquets previously. Each was a marvellous affair, an opportunity to socialize with some of Western Canada’s excellent and dedicated writers, photographers, editors, art directors and others who contribute to the success of publishing.

But, we couldn’t get away. So, instead, we were following along on the WMA’s Twitter feed, when this appeared:

Continue reading

Great day to tour the countryside

Autumn colours and ferry, Highway 782, St. Laurent, SK (Darrell Noakes)

Autumn colours and ferry, Highway 782, St. Laurent, SK (Darrell Noakes)

We have been experiencing an uncharacteristically warm autumn. Yesterday, for example, it was reported on the news that Saskatchewan broke 27 daytime high temperature records. I guess it’s only fair. We had such a long, cold winter, followed by a delayed, cool spring. So far this fall, we have yet to get an overnight frost. Winds have been light, too. As a result, leaves are turning brilliant shades of yellow and orange, clinging to their trees, except for occasionally drifting lazily to the ground.

You can’t let this kind of weather go to waste. On Sunday, we took a drive up to St. Louis, mainly to check on progress of the new bridge, but also to see how things were looking at Riverlot Orchards winery and their new bistro overlooking the river. We decided to tour up the river valley as much as possible, taking the bridge east of Rosthern, then cruising up Highway 782 past Batoche and St. Laurent. Even at a leisurely pace, it seemed that the winery materialized into view quickly. Continue reading

Ghosts

Trail, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

What if you could go back in time?

What if, one day, when you were a grown-up, you went back to your old home and climbed the ladder into your parents’ attic?

And, way in back, in a dim corner, barely illuminated by the flashlight in your hand, there was a box, a trunk, a large, dusty wooden trunk, with a lock that used a skeleton key?

So you contemplate whether or not to open it, to turn the key and open the lock, carefully, because you don’t know what might be in there, and the attic was a place that you seldom entered when you were a kid, not only because it was hard to get to, but because it was a cold and dark and drafty and scary place, and only the grown-ups were allowed in there. Continue reading

Water under the bridge

Cottonwood Falls Park. (Darrell Noakes)

Cottonwood Falls Park, Nelson, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

Deep in the recesses of my mind is a distant memory of a place my parents took me to once. It was a beautiful place, a canyon with groomed pathways, a lush garden, and a long waterfall that saturated the air with a cool mist. The water seemed to flow out of the sky. It splashed over rocks into a creek and then ran under a bridge and out into a wide, deep, slow moving river that shimmered with hues of green and blue.

I doubt I could have been more than two or three years old at the time, and we spent barely an afternoon there on a hot summer day, and we never went back. The memory of that place has persisted all my life. Whenever I think of the home where I grew up, I think of that place. Sometimes it enters my dreams, where I can still see myself running up and down the pathways of the canyon.

Whenever I asked my parents where that place was, they always shrugged. Continue reading

Bike Alley

The Bike Alley is a whimsical exercise in community development from within, says its creator, Dan Haley, owner of Casa di Cioccolato in Trail, BC. The bicycles line the alley behind his chocolate and tea shop at 346 Bay Avenue. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

“You should take a walk down there,” says Bruce, pointing to the lane in back of the old Arlington Hotel, a popular watering hole where a group of us had just wrapped up lunch over beer.

“Let’s see how many you find,” he adds as he and his sister, Sandra start across a deserted street.

“We’ll meet you over at the other end in a few minutes. We’re headed for the Artisan store. See you there.”

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

So, while the rest of the group went left, I hung a right and traipsed on down the block.

It’s pretty quiet for a Saturday, especially on a holiday weekend. There’s practically no traffic. Pretty much anyone who stayed in town must be at the Arlington.

As I reach the entrance to the lane, I spy a bike tied along the guy wires of a telephone pole, then a line of bikes overhead, pinned to the building wall. Further down, more bikes. Continue reading

First day of spring

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

It’s supposed to be the first day of spring today. Instead, it looks like winter is coming back for another blast.

After a sunny morning, it’s turned cloudy. The forecast calls for snow and blowing snow, northeast winds 30 km/hr gusting to 50, a low of minus 20 degrees Celsius tonight and a wind chill of minus 28. We’re not expected to see daytime temperatures go above freezing until well into next week, nor overnight lows above freezing until sometime in April. The past two weeks were so nice, too, in contrast with the minus 30 lows that ushered in the month.

I thought that if March came in like a lion, it was supposed to go out like a lamb! Continue reading