Maybe it was watching Great Canadian Rivers: Milk River on the Knowledge Network.
Maybe it was the day at work I spent listening to Corb Lund sing about cattle on the old Milk River Ridge and husking Taber corn.
Maybe it was the subsequent conversation with a coworker about how she used to drive from Calgary to Taber on the weekends to get fresh Taber Corn.
Maybe it was realising that this November will be four years since I've been back and that's the longest I've ever gone in my life without a visit, but somewhere in there I started to miss Southern Alberta. Missing it turned into an ache and then it became down right painful. That's right, I miss it so much it hurts.
Big Bro and I at the Alberta-BC border on the Crowsnest Pass
My mom hails from Milk River, a small town situated along the river just a few kilometres north of the Montana-Alberta border. My mom was raised on the family farm a few clicks east of town but by the time I came around, Grandma and Grandpa had retired and moved to town. The farmed passed to my uncle, Phil, and now to my cousin, Ryan. Still, I've always called it "Grandpa's Farm" and I challenge anyone in my family to tell me that it's not (except Ryan because, well, see above).
Grandpa may have retired to town but that didn't stop him
from still working the fields every chance he got.
The only years I don't remember going to Alberta in the summer, I was in Ireland. Those years, however, we often went to Alberta for Christmas so really, I'm pretty sure that my visits to Alberta would average one a year until Grandpa passed away. Although I have never referred to Alberta as 'my other home' like I do when talking about other places I've lived, it really was a second home (although with funny tasting water). The majority of trips were made by plane, but there were a handful of road trips and even a trip on ViaRail.
My most vivid memory of the trip was the drunk guy getting kicked off in the middle of the night.
Hmm, maybe I should do the trip again and make a better memory.
Growing up I used to complain that Alberta was so boring, that it was so flat. I was a west coast girl, with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, what's there to see in Alberta but wheat, cows, more wheat and more cows? In one moment that whole opinion changed; I was walking south from Milk River Town towards the river, I would have been 17 at the time, I looked out towards the Sweetgrass Hills and it hit me: yes, visually Alberta could be considered plain compared to BC but, my goodness, was it ever beautiful in its own way.
Big Bro in the wheat fields. Somewhere there is the same picture of me but I can't find it.
I loved staying at Grandma and Grandpa's. You'd wake up in the morning, climb the dark stairs out of the basement, and open the door to a bright kitchen. Coffee and tea would be made, cereal would be lined up for the choosing and the cinnamon buns would be waiting for the icing. Oh, the cinnamon buns. They were to die for. Years later I learned that grandma would make a batch and freeze it. When she had company, she'd just warm up a few in the morning, drizzle a little icing and voila, Grandma's 'fresh' cinnamon buns. They were the best part of breakfast.
At some point during our trip, Grandpa would take us out to the farm. If we went in the car we'd be stopping in for a visit to the house, but if we went in his Ford truck we'd be driving out to the fields. He'd tell stories as he drove: who owned what fields, if and how the owner was related to us or someone we knew, what crops they grew every year or if they were experimenting with something new. On and on he'd prattle, eventually landing on stories about great-grandpa and great-great-grandpa living on the farm. I wish that I had thought to write some of the stories down because all I have now are snippets from my foggy childhood memory. I'm never sure how much of the story was told to me and how much is my own memory trying to fill in the blanks.
Writing-On-Stone in the winter. As the name of the park suggests, there are pictographs carved into the rock face.
My one and only time at the Calgary Stampede.