Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn Rich

It is five hours from Edmonton to Saskatoon, give or take pit stops. Generally, I stop once in the halfway point of Lloydminster to top up on gas, grab a sub sandwich for supper, and that is it. I have no time to waste--on the way there, I have love and cuteness waiting for me. On the way back, I want to have a few hours to chill before hitting the sack and starting the work week over again. I have never been one to waste time; and I sure as heck am not going to do so on a long, flat, prairie highway.

This drive was different.

It included a few extra stops. On purpose. And it was absolutely lovely.

I was grumbly leaving the city. I had decided to take a coworker home who would otherwise be at the mercy of public transit on a Friday afternoon. She lived right off the main freeway that I would be using to leave town; no big deal. However, in the ten extra minutes it took to drop her off, and stop off at the neighbouring library to quickly grab an audiobook (I had forgotten to load podcasts onto my phone), I hit rush hour, and was about half an hour behind by the time I got to the outskirts of E-town. Unimpressed.

Really, Lord? I do the unselfish thing, and You reward my efforts with traffic?

(Yes, I know it doesn't work quite like that, but in the moment...... and you know you've been there, too.)

I knew I wanted to make a brief extra pitstop for sunset pics, and I knew where I wanted to take those pics, and now I was going to be pushing it to get there in time. The sun drops fast, and I have learned time and time again that you can't chase a sunset.

Marshall Granary at Sunset by gina.blank There was construction in Lloyd and a line up at Subway, delaying my grab-and-go efforts. I just barely made it in time to the granary I had been planning for my pictures. I captured the granary in the warm orange sun, and then spied a country road leading right into the rich glow of the horizon. It afforded several pictures, including a few with a country truck puttering home from the fields. The sun dipped down a bit more, and the moment was over. I had been hoping to get a silhouette of the granary, but still--in the quiet of this rural community, I crossed the tracks back to my car, satisfied. The rush-rush feeling I'd had up to this point was gone, and I hadn't missed the colours.

Thank You.

On Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed a leisurely walk with my eldest niece along the trails lining the South Saskatchewan river. As I was taking in the fall colours--both in and out of the camera--I decided it would be nice to make a couple extra stops on the drive home and see what became of it.

Well, stops aside, the drive home was something else.

As I started west, flock after flock of birds made their way south overhead; rippling black lines of motion across the clear, blue sky. Something in the air had given these creatures the cue that this was the weekend to rise up from their lake homes and start the journey to a warm winter. But such a gentle sight.

Battleford Valley by gina.blankI stopped in the Battlefords, at the top of a hill overlooking the valley. I've always driven past the turnoff, wondering what was down the road of this hill. Peace and loveliness; that's what.

Shrubs and grasses--a mix of green, yellow, brown, orange, red--speckled the hill all the way down to the valley where the North Saskatchewan River flows. The waters of this river are the same as those that passed by my own house in Edmonton just a day or two before, and it brings an odd feeling of connection.

The sun is warm. Close your eyes and you wouldn't actually know it's autumn--I should have worn flip flops today. I traipse down the trail a bit. It smells of late summer--crisping leaves and warm grass. The sound of traffic fades away fast, and all I hear are a few grasshoppers above the mild din of the hidden freeway. I snap a few pictures, but mostly I just want to stand and take it all in. It's so warm, and quiet, and lovely.

After breathing deep, and scanning the 180 degree view one more time, I make my way back to my car for the next leg of my prairie trip home.

By the time I pass Lloydminster, the sun has started an obvious descent over Alberta. There is a slight haze in the air--from experience, I know it's probably forest fire haze, though it doesn't smell like it yet. But through my sunglasses, it gives everything a warm, reddish hue as I drive. I have continued to watch flocks of birds moving south and west through the sky. In a rolling field to my right, I see two horses galloping swiftly along; in the dips of the hills, there are patches of fog settling.

Behind the Trees and On the Water by gina.blank I spy a small body of water and turn in--I need to be able to stand in the presence of all of this, pictures or not! As I move around the back of my car, I spy something in the water. A beaver, and I don't even think he's fully grown. I watch him a minute--his cute little face even looking in my direction--but as soon as I move to open the trunk, he swooshes down into the water--gone.

I focus on my sunset, watching three or four little beavers swimming lazily in the water as I move back and forth along the side of the road. It is significantly cooler now--a mere three hours later, and I almost need my jacket. The sun has disappeared behind the trees, and the sky has changed from yellow to orange to pink to purple in less than 15 minutes. I stand for a moment, and breathe deep again. It smells crisp and clear, and just a touch like dew.

Wisps of Pink and Purple by gina.blank
When I am overwhelmed with God's rich glories, I find myself using the words 'humbled' and 'awash in awe' together.


That would be this weekend; most especially my journey home. What had I been grumbling about on Friday? I have almost forgotten in all the blessing.

I return to my car and drive, wrapped in the peace and beauty of the Creator.