Prince Albert National Park 

“Tradition.  Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as ….. as a fiddler on the roof!”

Today’s guest blog post is written by a dear friend of mine who’s way with words always brings smiles and tugs at heart strings in her Christmas missive. When I conceived of these 150 guest blogs about National Parks I knew instantly that Janice would be a perfect pick for a post about Prince Albert National Park. 

Her blog post about Prince Albert National Park hinges on the consistency that goes back half a century. The ties that bind in a setting that relaxes the soul but fills the body with all that great food! 

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Tradition is what takes us to Waskesiu every June for a wonderful, relaxing, reconnecting weekend with some fabulous friends.  Ron and Wanda have been in our lives for over 40 years.  During that time, they have shared many of our triumphs and our sorrows, they know us well.  Each spring we plan out our meals:  both couples manage a breakfast and a supper, with one evening to eat out, and the other breakfast to eat up our leftovers before heading home.  Wanda’s breakfast menu never changes – it is her tradition and we respect, honour and appreciate as being a part of her family history.  She uncovers her electric skillet so Ron can cook the bacon to perfection

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before she begins her eggs,

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hash browns and toast for our breakfast meal – which, if you can imagine the fragrance of aspen and pine, marrying the tantalizing scent of bacon as if wafts through the trees.  It is always a treat to look forward to.  By-the-way, this is exactly the reason we are here in Waskesiu.

When growing up, Wanda’s family (consisting of Mom, Dad and 5 children) would head up to Waskiesu for their holidays.  Wanda’s Grandparents would join them from Prince Albert, as well as a few tag along aunts, uncles and cousins, making it a bit of a family reunion.  Grandma and Grandpa would usually rent one of the small, one room, Baker’s Cabins. 4

These rustic white cabins are a mainstay of the town, and have been there for many years – changing hands a few times, but the name stays the same because of tradition!  For breakfast, they would pull out their skillet (guaranteed it was not electric back then!), and somehow manage to produce bacon and eggs for the whole troupe!  This was one of Wanda’s early family traditions, that has been passed down to the next generation, and beyond!

Greg and I joined Ron and Wanda some time ago when our boys were younger.

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We have such fabulous memories of bathing the boys in the sink of the small cabins, sitting out on the deck playing Keiser as the little ones slept, eating decadent food like chocolate covered peanuts, playing on the beach, swatting horseflies and savouring ice cream cones piled high with goodness.  And the walks!  My goodness the miles we have put on by checking out the  familiar sights of the town

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and marina

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each visit, hoping (not) to encounter some bear or other wildlife on our travels as we try to catch all of the places that sell ice cream in one trip!  The scenery is always absolutely stunning!

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These are just some of the unforgettable reflections that are tucked away in our filing cabinet of thoughts to be treasured forever.

Ron, Wanda, Greg and I have become Grandparents this past year, which is just the beginning of another wonderful change in our lives.  Our little boys have grown into amazing young men and are starting to branch out and form their own traditions and memories.  It has been over 10 years since the four of us have headed up to Prince Albert National Park for our annual Waskesiu weekends.  I am glad that we do not take the time to count the calories we have consumed, the games we have played, the laughs and stories that we have shared in that time, because the number would be astronomical!

I do know that we appreciate, and are thankful that tradition is a part of our lives – which gives us the permission to take the time for bonding and cherishing those that are most important to us.

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Take the time to find you own traditions and enjoy the journey.

Janice

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A quick bit of background on the park:  Prince Albert National Park encompasses close to 1,500 square miles in central Saskatchewan and is located about 120 miles north of Saskatoon.  It was declared a national park on March 24, 1927.  This year-round park offers a diverse collection of wildlife including bison, bear ((Editor’s Note — of which Janice is terrified of seeing so we know she didn’t take the photo)),

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and timber wolves, as well as almost 200 species of birds.  There are numberous lakes to swim, fish, boat, canoe, icefish and skate on, with trails to hike, ski and horseback ride through depending upon the season you are visiting in.  Inside the park, you will find Waskesiu Lake which was an early Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade post between 1886 and 1893.  Just south of the town site, you will find one of the oldest golf course in Western Canada, the Waskesiu Golf Course which opened in 1935, and still hosts one of the largest match play events in North America.  A unique Lobstick Tree,  which greets golfers right in the middle of the first fairway,  is so named by First Nations groups that would traditionally remove the middle branches of spruce trees to produce a “Lobstick Tree” which would then be used as navigational markers.

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This park is also home to the cabin of renowned naturalist and conservationist Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney).

Janice 

Editor’s Note  

 

Inspirational Riders

Last night’s rain preempted a gravel bike ride, that would have pushed me hard, with two friends who have inspired me. They have been, in turn, inspired by two friends.


Let me set the scene for you. It’s full of people with inspiration, courage, energy, sadness and hope.  Continue reading

Summer Sunday Snap Chat

The calendar reminds me that the days are getting shorter. This wheat field is a visual that reinforces that. 

The sunshine hours are so precious and I’m always happy when I’m outside “puttering”. Both the veggie and the flower garden are a source of food and beauty. 

When I’m not puttering I’m usually beside the mason working on the rock wall. I have a love hate relationship with rocks because after three years of back and arm  strengthening work I’m like so “over it” but I can still see the beauty in the rocks. 

The beauty in the next picture is more than skin deep which is good because the skin is messy! First encounter with an Arrowroot  biscuit and while she really enjoyed it the result ensured a bath at Gran’s house.Whether it’s with the camera or your memory it’s good to focus on the positives and the beauty in life. It’s far too easy to get weighted down with all the negatives and the “busy”. 

Bernie 

Ps I know this isn’t snap chat but that’s what I called my little chat that went with the snapped pictures! 

Equipoise Lost 

Sometimes in the midst of chaos there is great beauty. The question is can we stop and recognize it. I think that all the great philosophers must have been gardeners. It gives one time to ponder and draw parallels. 


As I grapple with some chaos in my life I am reminded that it’s all about balance. Madly off in all directions with no moderation at all doesn’t allow for equipoise. We all need to build in a daily reminder of gratitude. Then we can sort through the issues and figure out priorities while always keeping our core values staring at us. 


I found 5 Vimy Ridge memorial poppies amongst the 2′ tall weeds. Helps bring perspective and balance. 

Bernie 


Life’s like a …

The sunlight dappled through the raspberry patch and while it was a beautiful colour it added a level of complexity to berry picking. The evening tinged light made the ripe berries hard to distinguish.  

She thought maybe life’s like a raspberry patch and not a box of chocolates. Chocolates are so pedestrian;  mass produced and if you read the key there aren’t even any surprises. It’s all so uniform and easy and she thought that’s not like life at all. Life isn’t easy. Those chocolates are tasty but they lack the smell, feel and taste of victory.  Because each bowl of raspberries is a little victory on so many levels and that’s much more like real life is.


No there was much more to it than walking out and picking the big juicy berries on the top. She thought of all the background work that most people don’t ever consider as they eat that berry. How all that time and those little decisions ripple along and collide with the factors we can’t control. The best maintained berry patch can be levelled by a hail storm so intense that there is nothing left but beat up old canes. The new strapping plants growing so pristinely for next year are desecrated.  

That’s what life is like she thought. Hail could so be a metaphor for a crisis like a car accident that claims a young life and cripples someone in their grief. Raspberry blight was like that bloody cancer. The one that robs young, old and in betweens of the life they wanted to live. Instead it replaces it with something they never dreamt could happen to them. Cane rot requires the whole patch be burnt and relocated which she reflected, was what those who had lost their relationships or their jobs were often forced to do. 
Better to live through a drought, she thought, even though that had its downsides as well. Less berries with a lower quality and perhaps there was some lesson to be learnt there as well. That smaller bowl was worthy of the same respect as the big juicy bowl full of prime berries. That analogy seemed to elude her grasp and yet sat in front of her face but the metaphor wasn’t jumping up at her.  Ps late at night these two thoughts intruded: racism and or white privilege. 


Pulling her mind back to the picking of the berries she mulled over that the work of keeping raspberries. The mulching, weeding, cutting back of the floricane at the year end so that the primocane could flourish the following year and the disposal of the canes. Those maintenance items were like seeing brushing your teeth, eating properly, getting enough sleep and stretching. Those self care items that people neglect on themselves but will take care of for others or as it turns out for plants.  Perhaps the bees were sent along to help like friends do in real life. 

But if the care of them was like self care she rationalized then the use of the berries was like the sweet things in life. Preserving the berries for a cold winters day or eating them fresh with farm cream was hugs and laughter all around. And if life handed you little raspberries then make lemonade. Now that was an analogy she could get behind; that some times difficult situations force us to respond to find the best possible outcome. Yes life definitely was like that. 


Bernie 

Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time alone in the raspberry patch! 

Definitely Not 

I am most definitely not having a staycation. By it’s very definition it doesn’t describe what I’ve done in my week “off”.


This first week off is always spent balancing between full on construction work (more on that later in the other blog)  and gardening. The peas, beans and raspberries are all ready so I’m squeezing in picking and processing around loads of mortar mixed and rocks set. Add some laundry, house cleaning (well only a tiny tiny tiny little bit of that to be honest) and some financial catch up and hat has filled almost every moment of my first 7 days off.

Obviously I have yet to weed the garden!

I did make time to go to Lathey Pool with my baby and her baby. Outdoor swimming, followed by an ice cream   sundae at the 8th street DQ, was a summer tradition for well over a decade at our house. My friend discovered Spencer’s first tooth at George Ward Pool. Alyssa’s first set of swimming lessons was at Lathey pool — apparently it looks a lot smaller as an adult than as a child! We had a lovely time introducing Baby A to swimming. She likes it a lot better than the tub apparently. 


Soccer and biking (last official ride of the season) have both put in an appearance this week and a couple of evenings by the fire pit were lovely. But no other staycation type activities as it always seems like there is a lot of work to catch up on. 


BUT before you give me the gears about not slowing down to smell the roses know that a)I love time in the garden and the kitchen, b)time spent at home, to me, is quality time cause I’m pretty darn lucky with where I live and c)we have something else planned for next week and d)I find beauty where I look. 


So stay tuned for the big reveal on The Home Page of 1918 Eaton’s Eager Blog . Exciting times!!

Bernie 

Family “Secret”

I suspect it seems odd that I’d be willing to talk about a family secret. No one remembers where it originated from but everyone enjoys it so obviously it’s not a sinister thing like you were all thinking. 

My Nanna used to make something called raspberry vinegar and luckily passed the recipe to our mothers and they passed it on to us. I’m happy to say, that for my part, my kids love it and I’m sure they will continue to make it.


It’s certainly not mainstream because googling it brings up raspberry vinaigrette which I made last year and is a totally different story. This is a drink that is slightly sour and slightly sweet which doesn’t even make sense.

Neither does what the magazine Country Woman did to it. Several years ago my sister, who had a subscription, submitted the recipe. They changed it up so much that it was not even recognizable as the same drink. I wrote them a follow-up and let them know how disappointed we were in what they had done to such a fabulous drink. I don’t think they ever corrected it. I do understand what they were trying to do as it is a very time intensive process. It’s not labour intensive just timely.




Basically you take a pail of raspberries, add vinegar and water. Let set x 24 hours, hang to extract juice x 12 hours. Add sugar, boil and pour into hot jars. 

Then when you need some liquid sunshine from the garden add three parts water to one part concentrate. Enjoy! 

Bernie 

PS – so if you are lucky enough to have some raspberries and need specifics about quantities leave me a comment (which gives me your email) and I will probably share our family secret. 😉


PPS — if you ever find a jelly bag in a store please let me know who carries them. Illusively hard to find but so much easier than cheesecloth