I live almost 600 km north of the prairie around Estevan, Saskatchewan.
Where I lived near Meskanaw trees were plentiful but most were considered a wasteful use of farmland. They were bulldozed down and then gathered up into vast windrows and burned.On our home quarter, my Dad grew bountiful crops of grain. The soil is a rich dark loam.
Your book reflects the ambivalence of our country towards trees. From greatly valued to disdained trees are very much at the heart of the Canadian identity. I love that a red maple leaf is the symbol by which the world knows Canada.
All the best.
Thanks for your patience with regards to my reply. A great and thoughtful message such as yours certainly doesn't deserve a quick, formulaic response. And these things take time, especially when I'm at home with young kids who are climbing all over me, as though I myself were a tree!
But it's truly wonderful to hear from someone who knows the plains of Southern Saskatchewan as well as you do. Your phrase "where the bare land rolled" is so perfect, I wish I'd written in myself. And it's just fascinating to hear your own family's history with farming and with the few trees of the area. Your dad sounds like a sharp guy, and I'm so pleased to hear that that line of trees has survived to this day. This is very much what Greenwood is about, our ever-evolving concept of our relationship with the natural world, from subsistence, to exploitation, to appreciation, to interconnectedness. Sounds like your father had evolved well ahead of his time.
I'm writing to you from Galiano Island, from a little timber frame house that I built mostly myself (I hired a proper electrician, because I don't have a deathwish!) The house is done now, but I still take great delight in various carpentry projects that I can take on, when I'm not writing. But I share that same sense of peace and tranquility when sitting among trees that you describe, and I too feel it nowhere else. And you're right about the way that our trees and forests are bound to the Canadian identity, from the maple leaf on down. It brings me great pleasure that this book is being published internationally (Germany in a couple months), and I get to share that sense of awe with the world. It's very rewarding.
It was great fun to write about Saskatchewan in this book. I've never lived there, but in my youth, I spent a good deal of time in the Estevan area and it made a huge impression on me. I've also passed through on my numerous cross-Canada journeys (once on a freight train, but that's a story for another time...), and I was always utterly astounded by the place. It's magical. And I just hope I captured an ounce of that magic in my book.
Thanks again for reaching out, Bill, and for reading and reviewing my book. It's the best part of being a writer, hearing from such interesting and engaged folks as yourself. And please stay in touch!