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The International Writers Magazine: Alberta

Morning Rain
Mia Efantis
The rain keeps on falling up here in north-western Alberta, quickly filling up the prairie sloughs for thirsty cows and free-range antelopes to drink. An unusual summer indeed for this part of Canada

Alberta Sky
Pipestone In the meantime, the farmlands around Grande Prairie have taken on a look of Ireland’s green pastures. Not sure if you heard about the celebrity dinosaur dig at Pipestone Creek, about 40 km west of town. Actor Dan Akroyd and a few other Hollywood types were up to their knees in mud over the weekend, digging for dinosaur bones, and making a big yahoo to raise money for a new museum of palaeontology near Grande Prairie.

Maybe they should go to Kenya next where they're desperately needed to help the starving children.

Coming back after a year feels like returning to a land of big diesel rigs and greasy oilmen with their mud-plastered jeans and greedy appetites. Grande Prairie buzzes with giant machinery growling by along the main arteries at great speeds, mostly on their way to the next twelve-hour shift at the oilfield. Commercial establishments and big box stores have increased around town by about 20% since a year ago. The sprawl is now spilling into the surrounding fertile ranches, and across valuable land of north-western Alberta, which is known for producing some of the highest quality grain in the west.

This is a medium-size regional city that services the remote communities of north-western Alberta. It’s surrounded by an abundance of fertile prairie land, which provides sustenance to farmers, mostly of early German and Danish settlements, as well as Hutterite and Mennonite colonies. The great ocean of prairie around this part of Alberta is dotted with oil wells and other earth-intrusive machinery. The land is being drilled deeply, prodded hard, trampled over, and pegged with oil wells and towers. A tough job for machinery and men for sure, but an even tougher one on our precious land here. Did I hear a native elder once say that poking holes in mother earth's belly was bad?

Having traveled east and west many times, I experienced the vastness of our beautiful country first hand, and feel lucky. Sometimes I find it difficult to impress its enormity on my relatives back in Greece. When I tell them that traveling from Toronto to Calgary is further in distance than going from Athens to London, they don't believe me.
Train grain

Well, those mighty Europeans have their glorious history, but we have our physical space, freedom and abundance of natural beauty.Some of us also have,children, and shall remain optimistic about the future for their sake. Alberta is still a beautiful province with an unmolested endless ocean of prairie land that rises and falls all the way from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba to the foothills of the mighty Rocky Mountains. That’s a great distance of 1,200 km straight of fertile prairie land. Besides oily cowboys and drill holes, there is a beautiful sense of earthiness out here, with wholesome wheat and endless space to roam free. There are also hoodoos, badlands and dinosaur bones for celebrities to play and brag about. So why not join them sometime?

© Mia Efantis August 2011

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