Big Sky Country … Alberta, Canada

People call Alberta “Big Sky Country,” and for good reason … the sky looks big!

It doesn’t matter that it’s the same sky we all see by day or night from wherever we are … in Alberta the sky just looks different — bigger — like some natural optical illusion designed specifically to “wow!” us out of our daily cares.

When I was a little girl I lived with my grandmother for a year. At the time (late 1960s) she dwelt in a prosperous farming community north of Edmonton. As teenagers my brother and I often spent our summer holidays visiting her. And periodically throughout my adulthood I would head out west to visit her in an effort to rekindle that feeling of rootedness that comes with spending time in the company of the older generation in old familiar places..

Through these times I collected many good, and not-so-good, memories, and stored my impressions of the area neatly away in my heart to be revisited, as I pleased, when I had a mind to do so.

When granny died in 1994 my trips to that community stopped. And then, two summers ago, my brother, mother and I, somehow all feeling the need to reconnect to the area if only to bring a sense of closure, made the four-hour trek north by car from Calgary. It was during this journey I learned to appreciate the idea that “you can never go back.”

You can never go back and expect that what lives in your memory will have remained intact in real time.

The bustling farming community I remembered had, it seemed, disintegrated into little more than a ghost town. The stores granny used to frequent on Main Street were empty … all commerce seemingly redirected to shopping malls that had invaded the outskirts of town. The second-hand book store was still there. I bought a book.

The old wooden grain elevators that once stood like sentinels at the bottom of Main Street had been replaced by huge, ugly metal silos. Granny’s house, vegetable and flower gardens — her pride and joy — abandoned, weed-infested, unloved.

Was the house really that small? Wasn’t there a porch at the back door? Wasn’t the picture window in the front larger than that? The driveway was longer, wasn’t it?

It seemed like my mind was playing tricks. I liked what I remembered, not what I was seeing.

In the end the only memory that remained intact was the huge Alberta sky.

The image highlighted here was taken about 100 kms north of Edmonton on a windy August day in 2010. I was struck then by the beauty of a vast, fertile landscape melting like butter into the horizon of a big  blue and white sky.

I still am.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

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