Unprecedented amounts of rainfall have inflicted widespread destruction that has severely damaged houses, businesses, roads, farms and crops. Some places such as Moosomin (where we lived for 10 years) were particularly hard hit as residents were pummeled by monsoon-like rains not once, but twice. Many residents had not finished dealing with the effects of high water when a second flood occurred. As bad as Maple Creek was when it flooded in 2010, the damage was confined to a relatively small area. That is not so in eastern Saskatchewan where up to three million acres have been flooded. Manitoba is reportedly worse off as flooded cropland is expected to exceed 3.5 million acres, the amount of land that flooded in 2011.
On a more positive note, I was reminded last week of how blessed we are we live in this part of the world. On Friday, we had an opportunity to camp with our daughter and son-in-law in the Cypress Hills Park. We typically like to spend as much time in the hills as possible, but this year we had not yet visited the center or west blocks.
Living away from Maple Creek, Amanda and Kelly had not been to the interprovincial park for a year or two. As they prepared our supper over a campfire, our daughter remarked that a person forgets how beautiful the park is until it is revisited and experienced first hand. Her words were so very true and they launched a conversation and long trip down memory lane as we recalled our family camping and hiking experiences.
When it comes to hiking, a favourite subject is always “dad’s shortcuts.” I don’t think I am alone when it comes to males always searching for shortcuts, whether it’s driving or walking . . . and work should be added to that list as well. In that regard, I am always amazed at how an event can be experienced by a group of people who see it unfold through two totally different perspectives. In the case of our family, there is the factual account of what transpired (known as dad’s version) and there is our children’s viewpoint which seems to be a mixture of truth and bizarre fabrication that grows as each person tells their side of the story. It is unfortunate that my children were too young to fully appreciate the brilliance of a good plan, even if it required a little adjusting while en route to our destination. Now, when I look at our children camping and traveling I see that same sense of adventure has rubbed off, and I know I did my job as a father.
Our oldest son (and to a lesser degree his brother) was a pyromaniac, especially when camping. That’s the very reason Jordan continues to be elected the official campfire starter when we all get together. I think spinning and twirling burning sticks – especially in the dark – is an uncontrollable desire that is put into all children. As we age, males learn to channel their quest for fire into safer hobbies such as model rockets, rifles, fireworks, and hot cars. Thankfully, none of our children ever suffered a serious burn on camping excursions. I am also very grateful that there were never any emergencies that required the attention of the Cypress Hills Fire Crew. They are a great bunch of guys, but it’s best to personally invite them to visit your campsite instead of sending a smoke-signal message.
Actually, our children’s conduct as adults is evidence that they actually listened to mom and dad and learned to respect nature, fellow campers and even fire (but developing a healthy respect of a flame took a little longer). Our children were certainly full of energy and curiosity, but they also respected the outdoors and to my knowledge did not damage flora or fauna. They flattened some vegetation with tents, but always cleaned up before they left a site. That’s what I like to think and to my knowledge they never received an education at the hands of local conservation officers or park police that required them to make a monetary and mandatory donation to the province.
I have to confess that they (with the help of friends) finally managed to set a cardboard box trap that successfully captured a squirrel. The problem was they did not know what to do with the critter once it was caught. After a few minutes (and thoughts of eating the animal), it was obvious the only solution was to release the paranoid and hyper rodent before it broke free and reaped mega vengeance on its captors. It is well known that a squirrel’s wrath will not only disfigure a person, it will totally embarrass and humiliate the victim.
However, times have changed. Two years ago, a friendly squirrel climbed up my wife’s chair and took a peanut off her shoulder. It was fun and cute until the animal decided to check out our camper. Then it took quite a bit of convincing to get him to leave his new cache of food. The little fellow certainly did not have any fear of containers or structures that could serve as a trap, so I think it’s time to get some boxes and string and take a group of kids camping.
Seriously, we live in a very beautiful and diverse region of Saskatchewan. If anyone says they are bored, I show them the local newspaper and point out all the upcoming events in the area and annual Staycation Section. I also show them the Secrets of the Southwest tourism booklet which features many unique attractions and businesses in the region. If I hear the b____ word again, I’ll roll up the tourism booklet and use it to swat some sense into their squirrel brains.