Before going on with similarities Minnesota and Saskatchewan, though fairly close geographically, are described differently. Minnesota is a part of the American Mid-West. Saskatchewan is a part of Western Canada.
As I looked at the cover for December Dread I was struck by how the cover design resembles the Small Town Saskatchewan series. Copies of the respective covers are above and below this paragraph.
Living in rural areas of the Mid-West America and Western Canada is different from living in the major metropolitan areas of both countries.
Reading December Dread will help a reader understand the phrase “Minnesota Nice”. Saskatchewan is known as one of the most polite provinces in a polite country.
There is a sense of neighbourliness evident in the books that echoes my experience.
Everyone knows each other. With modest populations in the countryside each person, young and old, knows everyone else in and around town. Whether or not you are in school you know the activities at school.
Classmates, as in December Dread, will often know each other from Grade 1 through Grade 12.
All is not sunshine in rural areas. The closeness of contact and relationship can cause intense and long lasting personality conflicts.
Mira is still scarred by the actions and words of her teenage high school classmates over 12 years earlier.
Bart has had long term personal conflicts over the community run local golf course.
Church is important to the mother of Mira James in Minnesota. It is not a Sunday event. She is participating in her Catholic parish activities every week. When the funeral for one of the victims is held at her Church Mira’s mother is part of the ladies group providing lunch.
Church life as set out by Lourey brought to mind a play Sharon and I attended in Minneapolis a few years ago. It was one of the earlier plays in the Church Basement Ladies series of plays set in rural Minnesota. Those ladies, while Lutheran, gathered in the same way Mira’s mother and her friends to work and socialize in their church.
The line I remember best from the Church Basement Ladies play was that:
“Catholics have all the fun.”
They were referring to an era in the 1950’s when Minnesota Lutherans did not dance. Growing up Catholic in Saskatchewan I had not appreciated we had the fun.
Whether in Minnesota or Saskatchewan, communities gather for meals prepared by the local ladies.
For many rural Saskatchewan weddings a community group provides the wedding supper. In my review of Frostbite Bart laments that his daughter’s “wedding supper will not be dominated by the traditional trinity of sausage, perogies and cabbage rolls”.
In Burnt Out Bart’s wife, Rosie, helps Crooked Lake celebrate its centenary by contributing “her design skills to the float being put in the parade by the Junction Stop, a local gas station”. Parades in rural Saskatchewan will either be dominated by or be wholly composed of homemade floats.
Absent from both series are the big events of cities such as major entertainers and plays and gala meals all conducted by professionals. In the country people make their own entertainment and act and produce their own plays.
I am glad each series provides a positive picture of life outside the cities. Readers will get an understanding why I loved growing up in rural Saskatchewan and continue to reside in a community of 6,000 people.