War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

heating up

still on the road after a month. the prairies we crossed in July, so green under the cool summer, now just beginning their progress into autumn. the wheat, the oats, the canola, the flax turning, slowly this year.

yesterday, picking up my newly welded Boler from a farm a 1/2 mile from the Montana border in south Sask, farmer turns to me and tells me how bad it is this year, how bad it has been for years. “a loaf of bread costs $3, and all I get is x for my wheat. want to buy a farm?”

farmer is the 5th generation on the land. ready to sell, sell, sell. I say to farmer, “be careful what you wish for, this land is branded onto your soul. rent it out for a year, try somewhere else, something else, then decide. you can never come back once you sell.”

farmer looks at me and I’m thinking that farmers and soldiers have this in common… they grumble about the very thing they love.

the girl and I have had many obstacles thrown before us on this journey. 5 days ago, on a rainy prairie Sunday, late, on a road that sees little traffic, no cell coverage, no inhabited farms (see above), the Boler’s hitch broke in two places, dragged the Boler only by its chains.

girl begins to cry. mother begins to cry. we’re tired, heading to a little village we love before turning homeward. it’s been a tough journey. lots of highs, far too many lows. I survey the damage, dry my tears, pull out my infantry thinking cap and tell girl not to panic, we have warm clothes, food, shelter of a sort (albeit broken and on an angle and smack dab in the middle of a deserted road with no shoulders), sleeping bags, lights etc.

then I get girl to help me unhitch the trailer. with all our might we manage after 1/2 hr. to get Boler halfway up onto its jack. I put a block of wood under it. the damage is significant. I then undo the chains which are really tight after the friction of the accident.

we drive to the nearest farm and find out it’s abandoned, then decide to go to town for help. again, both of us crying, we’re so tired, so hungry, so emotionally drained from a tough tough summer. suddenly, we see lights on the road a long way off. it’s two Parks Canada people. they are late coming home from work. they never are on the road this time usually but there was a celebration at one of the parks and they stayed to tidy up. they take one look at us, tell us not to worry, direct us to their office where they feed us bison and barley soup (me), p.b. and Saskatoon jelly toast (vegetarian girl), then telephone 2 husbands who take things in hand.

the superintendent of the Parks invites girl and me to stay the night, takes us in, feeds us, gives us her bedroom, the run of her house for the next three days, while the husbands manage to get the Boler on the flatbed, take it into the yard and then find the young welder who miraculously mends the thing. superintendent is amazing. kind. compassionate. generous. so are the other parks people, their spouses. they show us over and over that we are never alone.

girl and I leave our precious village three days later, all the villagers knowing us. we bid everyone farewell, thank you, and promise to return.

today, driving across the prairie, I speak with the Padre on my cell (it works on the TransCanada). he has checked in on me this summer. I ask after him and he tells me things are heating up. pre-deployment. family stuff. wives. husbands. children. tension. stress. anger. fear. depression. separation. illness.

all year I’ve watched the soldiers prepare for war. I’ve likened it to a pot on a stove slowly being turned up. hotter and hotter. I have felt the burn of this myself.

war is greater than us. has a life of its own. war magnifies and diminishes us. war is siren. war is bastard.

war is that big pot that simmers then bubbles and bubbles and bubbles. war splashes scalds us.

war burns
the closer
we get.


1 Comment (Closed)

Bob Devine

I don`t know if this has ever been mentioned to you before but after your tour I sure hope you keep this site active. It makes my day when I check your site every day and see you have a new post.

Aug 22 2009 · 00:41

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled heating up. It was posted here on August 20, 2009.

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