Tag Archives: riding mountain

A Salad for the Eyes!

AUTUMN LEAVES

Reid Dickie

For the eighth or ninth time this summer I took the leisurely drive home from Dauphin yesterday through Riding Mountain National Park. The day was partly cloudy. The park is spectacular this week with autumn painting the landscape with a glorious panorama of colours. Around every bend a new flourish of yellow and scarlet intertwines with subtle variations of orange, brown and red against a palette of greens.  It’s a salad for the eyes!

I always enjoy the drive through the park although in a few places the highway makes it seem like all four tires are going flat. The speed limit of 80 kph is appropriate and allows for sudden stops to view wildlife along the way. Trucks with three or more axles are not allowed to drive through the park.

The road now bypasses what was colloquially called “soapstone hill” – a short section on a steep hill near the north entrance. For decades the highway over the soapstone was unpaveable because the asphalt slid down over the slippery stone. Next to the bypass, there is now a new parking and viewing area that affords a gorgeous vista of the old lake bed below and Dauphin beyond.

This is the weekend for a day trip through the park for a full measure of Manitoba’s fall colours.

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Dauphin Sinkhole/Landslide – Late Fall Pictures

Reid Dickie

I ventured up to Dauphin in late October and took a few shots of the Dauphin sinkhole which I first reported on back in mid-June. Today the earth has settled even more, the timothy field above it has been cut and baled while the grass in the hole has ripened to a golden colour. The site has been well trodden by the curious for the past four months and trails have developed through and around it. The Vermillion River, once raging and mean, creating landslides along its bank, is now a mere trickle.

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Another Manitoba Sinkhole

Reid Dickie

Our engorged rivers are reshaping the Canadian landscape to the extreme this year. Water, in its eternal compulsion to conform to gravity, etches its slow-hewn language through valleys and onto flatlands. Now a new sinkhole has opened up along the Souris River in an undisclosed location near the town of Souris, Manitoba.

Similar in features to the Dauphin sinkhole, it appears calling either of these a sinkhole is a misnomer. Landslide appears to be the official explanation of the phenomena at both sites. The adjacent rivers and their abundant flows this year have eaten away enough of the banks for masses of earth to slide into the valleys. At the Dauphin site, the Vermillion River takes a sharp deep turn just below the landslide. At the Souris site, the valley wall appears to have collapsed and slid toward the river.

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Giant Manitoba Sinkhole Is Getting Deeper! Update June 16

Reid Dickie

Compared to my visit to the sinkhole south of Dauphin a week ago, it is much deeper today. The hole covers at least three acres, the size of two Canadian football fields, and in some spots is now a hundred feet deep with more of the timothy field fallen into the pit. A large section of the field around the centre rim has already shifted down about a foot. It will end up in the chasm soon, too.

It’s difficult to indicate the scale of the hole but the open area you see in the pictures of the sunken field is a small part of the earth that shifted. In the bush around the field and at either end there is much physical turmoil suggesting the sinkhole extends as far as a quarter-mile along the Vermillion River. Along this portion, the river forms the boundary of Riding Mountain National Park. The river, swollen with Riding Mountain rainwater, has caused considerable erosion and property loss along its banks. Though the bottom of the sinkhole is dry with no evidence of river water, there could be a strong link between the moving earth phenomenon and the roiling water. So far, nothing official from a geologist.

Today was muggy and hot with thunderstorms rolling across the prairie. Tomorrow promises to be the same. As you can see from the pictures, the land is lush and green from the rain this year and the timothy continues to flourish a hundred feet below where it germinated. The aura of the site is one of inevitable change, the ever-unfinished business of the earth creating and re-creating itself moment by moment, sinkhole by sinkhole. Earth energies have been loosed and they abound amid new chaos for elemental spirits. Fascinating place! Watch a short video of the site.

 

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Giant Manitoba Sinkhole Update – June 13

Reid Dickie

ReadReidRead is no longer the only place you can get fresh information about the 50-foot-deep sinkhole south of Dauphin. (Updating my opening statement on June 25/11, the only place to get pics and info is my blog and youtube channel. Still! No one has picked this up! Amazing. It gave me over 2600 hits last Sunday but interest is abating now. More info and video on this site soon.) I talked at length today with landowner Anthony Genik who says he’s done a couple of media interviews and there are frequent visitors to the site now. Anthony says the walls are caving in and sliding down a bit more. He thinks the pit is deeper now at the north end, “by a few feet,” which contradicts earlier reports of further drastic sinking. However, there are still pieces of the timothy field breaking away around the outer rim and tumbling into the hole. “It’s still settling, still moving,” explains Anthony. The bottom of the pit is bone dry, no sign of water seeping in from the side or below.

Anthony says the talk about a geologist coming to look at his land “is just gossip, so far.” Since he’s not sure what to call the pit in his field, Anthony is keen to talk with an expert and get some clarity about what happened. It could be a sinkhole, which is what I’ve been calling it, or it could be the result of rotational slump, a phenomenon that usually occurs on coastlines. Anthony said while the central portion fell straight down without much destruction, the northern end received violent shifting with great devastation in the forest.

Whatever we decide to call it, the excellent timothy crop continues to grow tall and green fifty feet below the rest of the field at the bottom of the chasm.

I will be making another firsthand report after a quick trip out to the sinkhole one day this week.

I thank Cheryl Haliski McKay for today’s pictures of the phenomenon. Watch my short video of the sinkhole.

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Signs Along the Road

Reid Dickie

Three signs from my two-day flood tour.

The first can be found just as you are leaving Gladstone heading west on Hwy #16. There is a group of Old Order Mennonites west of town that use horses and buggies necessitating this caution to the motorized.

The next sign is part of a heritage site on Hwy #5 just south of McCreary along the east side of Riding Mountain. The Satterthwaite homestead sat right on the Burrows Trail which followed the open beach ridges left by old glacial Lake Agassiz. More information on the Satterthwaite family and homestead can be found on my Day Tripper page.

Mark’s words are broadcast across the prairie from this old red barn next to Hwy #10 coming out of Riding Mountain National Park south of Onanole.

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Be Happy on the TCH

Reid Dickie

Since her death nearly 18 months ago, Linda has communicated one simple and helpful message to me repeatedly: Be Happy! It has come in many forms – from her beautiful gentle voice saying it in my head to suddenly implied by gestures I see in others to full-blown experiences of the spirit world in trance to small bliss currents that happily billow through my consciousness. Whatever the messenger, the message is the same: Be Happy!

Last Friday afternoon, as I was driving down the Trans Canada Highway coming home from my flood tour, I was beset with anxiety about returning to the city hive and its noise and bother. I’d spent the morning sitting in a camp chair about a quarter of a mile up the north side of Riding Mountain, looking out over a forty-mile view that included Dauphin and the Duck Mountains beyond. Idyllic, quiet, peaceful and the opposite of what I was heading into. Just as these thoughts arise, a sporty candy-apple red SUV passes me. You couldn’t miss this vehicle. Its licence plate said, “B Happy.” I chuckled heartily and thanked Baby for reminding me in yet another inventive way. Thank you Linda, my angel.

Reid

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Giant Manitoba Sinkhole Update

Reid Dickie

I saw this giant sinkhole just outside Riding Mountain National Park south of Dauphin, MB firsthand on Thursday evening. Here is my initial post about it. Today I have some new information about the pit. Already fifty feet deep, the pit is getting deeper! One account thought it was now over 100 feet deep. Here is a picture I took of the sinkhole on Thursday and one of the ford of the Vermillion River which runs near the giant pit. Stay tuned for more on this. Watch my short video clip of the sinkhole.

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Manitoba Flood Update June 11, 2011 – My Driving Tour

Reid Dickie

Last Thursday I took a drive into rural Manitoba, destination Dauphin, to check out the aftermath of the torrential rains we received at the beginning of the week. There’s still water everywhere!

I travelled out the Trans Canada Highway west from Winnipeg to Portage. At the TCH crossings of the Assiniboine River, the water was as high as it’s ever been this spring. The Portage Diversion, carrying water from the Assiniboine into Lake Manitoba, was filled to the brim again. There appeared to be topping up activities along the dike. I turned onto Hwy #16 and didn’t encounter much new flooding until around Woodside, past Gladstone and almost into Neepawa, where the Whitemud River had spilled its banks. For miles and miles ditches and fields on both sides of the highway were flooded, as far as the eye could see in some places. The Whitemud drains the southeastern foothills of Riding Mountain, exactly where heavy rain fell Monday and Tuesday, causing flash flooding along its course. The earth here is already saturated, flash floods now more possible. This picture shows the brown murky water of the Whitemud, which has a distinct sewage odour, flooding the lower section of a rest stop on Hwy #16 before the Arden turnoff. Manitoba Water Stewardship (MWS) says the Whitemud will remain high until the runoff abates.

I turned north in Hwy #5 along the east side of Riding Mountain, crossing many of the streams that feed the Whitemud. Most of them were full and fast flowing. As I passed Ste. Rose du Lac I could see their ring dike which they just recently reopened. That evening my cousin Vonda and I took a drive east of Dauphin to view the flooding around Dauphin Lake. Dauphin Beach and Ochre Beach are inundated with many waterfront properties diked with heavy stones piled along the beach to protect their property from wave erosion. Many properties were flooded, sandbags were available at several locations  and people were busy hauling them away. The worst areas are Ochre Beach and Crescent Cove. The picture above is an aerial view of Crescent Cove on Dauphin Lake that appeared on the front of this week’s Dauphin Herald. The other pictures are ones I took of Dauphin Beach and Ochre Beach and show water levels that are still high but have subsided from the storm earlier in the week. Click to enlarge any picture.

Yesterday (Friday) I drove home through Riding Mountain National Park where I spotted deer, a coyote and a moose lifting its dripping head out of the swamp water with a mouth full of water weeds, a classic Hinterland Who’s Who moment. Trucks three axles or more cannot travel the highway through the park due to some soft road conditions. Overall, it’s still a pleasant and easy drive through a beautiful lush forest.

My next encounter with flood water was in the valley of the Little Saskatchewan River south of Erickson. Some of the fields were still flooded and the river hurtled along filled to the brink. The same river flows through Minnedosa which was diked in several areas. I drove south to Brandon and surveyed their situation. First and Eighteenth Streets are open and still thoroughly diked to about twelve feet. The water has receded in some areas around Brandon but a new crest of the Assiniboine is expected this week, returning the river to its record highs of a month ago.

As they await the next crest, towns and cities all along the Assiniboine from St. Lazare to Winnipeg are on tenterhooks. The town of Souris has declared a local state of emergency and sandbaggers are working day and night against the Souris River. In this picture a Souris family prepares to leave their diked home as the flood waters rise. Wawanesa is under the same conditions though MWS says the Assiniboine is now cresting in both those towns. More rain is expected early next week so they remain on alert. See NASA’s view of Souris River flooding.

The place least worried about this is Winnipeg. If the Assiniboine gets too high, ‘Magic’ Duff Selinger, Manitoba’s unelected premier, has promised to open Hoop and Holler Bend again to relieve the nasty river of a few hundred cubic feet of water per second so he can don his Moses outfit and blink and grin again. This man is so dumb he thinks this cynical ploy will work twice on Manitobans. We got it the first time – it was a fake-out, a publicity stunt. This time there is more at stake. The government has bungled Lake Manitoba water management so badly this year, both with the actual level of the lake and dealing with the tragic human aftermath of man-made flooding, they need a saviour move at Hoop and Holler Bend to divert attention away from their big mistakes on the big lake. MWS reported yesterday the Fairford River outlet from Lake Manitoba is flowing at its highest level ever. Grain of salt, folks. I just can’t believe what these people say any longer. The above After picture is of Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba after recent devastation from high water and winds. Compare it to this Before picture from the 1980s.

It’s becoming the flood that never ends. Build an ark people, build an ark. Get a grant or maybe even a buyout after the flood from the province to build it. Which reminds me the widely touted parting of the Red River by Moses Selinger has been moved off the back burner, I hear. Stay tuned.

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Giant Sinkhole in Manitoba

Reid Dickie

The Fisher boys thought they had a pretty good crop of timothy for hay coming along with the wet weather and all. One morning last week a large portion of the crop sank fifty feet straight down leaving a gaping maw in the field. The Vermillion River, swollen with Riding Mountain rains, runs nearby and may have contributed to the phenomenon.

My cousin Vonda who lives at the foot of the north side of Riding Mountain, and I went looking for the sinkhole using directions from the land’s renter. We found a fallow field and trudged across it for a quarter mile toward a crop thinking the sinkhole was nearby. It wasn’t. When we got back to the truck, the land owner had turned up on an ATV wondering who was walking his field. We said we were looking for the sinkhole. Anthony Genik said, “You guys aren’t very good trackers, are you?” We weren’t as we’d driven right past the field less than a quarter mile back. We introduced ourselves and Anthony directed us to the pit, giving us a guided tour.

The sinkhole is huge, its edge clearly defined. Anthony estimated the hole is more than fifty feet deep in some places, it covers about three acres (the size of two Canadian football fields, no end zones) and it appears to have dropped right down. The trees around the field sank as well, also straight down, none falling over. Anthony said a geologist is coming out to view the sinkhole and offer possible explanations for it. Whatever the scientists think, the sight of the sunken earth made me realize our insignificance and yet gave me a thrill to be present with it. Watch my short video clip of the site.

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My Weekend

         This is a very bloggy thing for me to do but I’m reporting on what I did this weekend. I rented a Ford Fusion from Enterprise (a company I recommend) and drove 800 kms in rural Manitoba since Friday morning, visiting two cousins, making new friends and seeing old friends. Friday I drove to Dauphin, MB, north of Riding Mountain National Park on the edge of which lives my cousin Vonda. We share the family spirit connection.

        I spent two weeks of every youthful summer at Aunt Ina and Uncle Derk’s farm just north of Riding Mountain near Vonda’s farm. The shape of the mountain, basically a bit of end moraine left by the receding Ice Age now furred with rich green forest, loomed on the horizon and left an indelible impression. It felt warm and generous being next to that familiar shape again. Here’s a wide view of Riding Mountain bulging along the horizon.      This is Friday’s sunset outside my hotel room door.

          Vonda’s farm sits at the mouth of a deep and wide valley that opens out of Riding Mountain Park about two miles away. On Saturday afternoon, armed with bear spray and her dogs Rebel and Hawkeye, we took a long walk along the top of the valley through stands of oak and poplar. A creek swollen with melting mountain snow burbled down the valley.

        At one spot above the dugout and a small slough we heard an amazing sound coming up the valley wall. It sounded like ducks maybe or crows reading James Joyce or grouse at a lek dancing and singing. It was very horny, urgent, unrelenting. It turned out to be frogs mating as this vid I found demonstrates the sound and its source. Image it loud and incessant arising from an unknown place 200 feet below on a warm, still afternoon. 

      This is a shot across the valley with creek on left, slough in centre and pasture above. The frog song echoed up and across the valley.   

 

        After a hearty home cooked meal and bottle of wine, I spent another night at the Canway Inn, which I don’t recommend. Dauphin has better lodgings. Sunday morning I drove through Riding Mountain National Park on Hwy #10. The speed limit is a leisurely 80 km through the 60 km park. There was little traffic, saw a couple of deer and enjoyed the pace away from the hive. 

         Highway #10 eventually got me to Brandon where I visited my cousin Duncan and his lovely companion Christine. Brandon is rambunctious with housing development in every direction, as a tour from Duncan proved. Many of the new streets don’t have streetlights, some the streets aren’t even complete before the houses are ready. The place is “growing” so quickly that the city of my birth has become a tawdry example of unremitting urban sprawl and big box stores dumbly built on a floodplain in a valley, many now threatened with flooding by the mischievous Assiniboine River. Ha!

      Luckily Brandon has rich and living heritage and I always find a new example of it every time I visit. We were driving down 2nd Street near Princess and a row of old two-storeys caught my eye. Three of them had the same elaborate Eastlake Stick style bargeboard under their front gables. Brandon has other fine examples of the style. I jumped out and snapped all three.

Brandon’s finest example of the style is the former Paterson/Matheson House at 1039 Louise Ave. You can read more about this pile on my Houses page.

I’ve long admired the old stone fence next to my cousin’s house in Brandon. One of its sections needs a good stonemason to get it vertical again.

                I drove out Highway #10 south of Brandon to Riverside Park, a favourite stopping place next to the Souris River. The park is no longer beside the river but in the river. The Souris is flooding its banks frequently this year. It empties into the Assiniboine near Wawanesa. This is a picture of the flooded park.

And here the mighty Souris floods on

         As I was leaving the park in the ditch two wild turkeys were strutting around, feathers fanned and fierce. The weather was cooperative, it’s too early for serious highway construction to become obstruction, too early for wood ticks and there wasn’t much traffic for a holiday weekend.

     I enjoyed the driving but part of the weekend was to test the intensity of my wanderlust this year, at least giving it an initial airing to see how far its range needs to extend. Still pondering that. The familiar scenery, the memories associated with the region and the wonderful spirit of the people made the trip a double dose of spring tonic for me.

      To end here’s a shot of the mixed forest along the top of the valley next to Riding Mountain.

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12 SACRED PLACES

12 SACRED PLACES

DAY 2

TWO FEATHERS MEDICINE WHEEL

August 7, 1997

“Entering the awe”

                Overhead a red-tailed hawk cries and soars on the updrafts, “Every moment sacred” its constant message. Here on the ground I am hatless, shirtless, my entire being brought into the moment, present once again among the sacred.

                Situated on the highest hill around, about 25 km west of Leader, SK, Two Feathers Medicine Wheel rests almost exactly on the Saskatchewan/Alberta border just upstream from the confluence of Red Deer River and the South Saskatchewan River. Since I had never seen it referred to by any specific name, I called the site Two Feathers because on my first visit here in 1996, with the wind howling high, cold and fierce, I found two small feathers impossibly stuck in the grass, resisting the wind’s onslaught. Later I discovered people call it Roy Rivers Medicine Wheel because he first homesteaded here.

        

On the right the central cairn of Two Feathers/Roy Rivers Medicine Wheel looking west above the Red Deer River on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border

              When Linda and I traveled through here in 1994, I picked up a free local tourist guide. I always take any free stuff along my journeys. It said, “Visit our medicine wheel.” Okay, where is it? I asked around, found out the present landowner’s name, contacted them for permission and directions and easily found the place first try.

            What a place! The 360-degree panorama is breath taking. I can see for miles! Below the Red Deer River shines like a silver mirror, deep ravines cut the rolling prairie to the north and east, pasture and cultivated fields complete the landscape. Tiny Empress, Alberta sits below the site on the riverbank. The usual prairie flora cover the hillside; prickly pear and pincushion cacti abound making hiking boots essential. Tipi rings dot the surrounding hills.

Illustration of Two Feathers/Roy Rivers Medicine Wheel

             The medicine wheel consists of a tall central cairn, over four feet high, surrounded by a single ring of stones that features a double line opening to the south. The cairn, constructed of beautiful, lichened stones, has an indent in the centre of it. My intent is to seek personal guidance on my life purpose. My heart pounds from the arduous climb to the place and the excitement of the moment.

              Present and welcomed, I start my ritual. Walking the outer ring of stones singing my power song and rattling in reverent prayer, I feel higher and lighter with each cycle as I spiral toward the centre sunwise. Songs, which arise spontaneously from my lips, become mere whispers as I step inside the cairn and sit in its “nest.” Easy communing here. In a few moments, I am elated, bubbling over with laughter. The message is direct, clear and powerful. Laughing and crying with gratitude, I repeat over and over “I understand. I understand.”  I feel utterly cared-for and loved, directed and encouraged.

           Lying on my side in the central cairn my sobs and joyousness soon transform into perfect peace and complete humility. I hear laughing voices ripple up the hillside toward me, stone elementals chatter and in the distance, the cry of the red-tailed hawk, guardian of the sacred. All I am is a speck on the wind.

             When I feel able, I slowly stand and carefully step out of the cairn. I circle the stones again, singing my power song and thanking the local spirits and the Creator for this day. I float back down the hill in a haze of mosquitoes, weeping, yet feeling ecstatic, utterly at home in myself and in the world.

             I have visited Two Feathers Medicine Wheel three times and each time been given the gift of guidance and foresight. Two quotes from my notes after the visit suggest its significance: I felt as if I was “entering the awe” and, later, “blissful to tears.”  My intuition says this sacred place is over 2000 years old. Though no signs of recent medicine making were visible, the place resonates with wise and ancient wisdom, born from the shaman’s drum and the humility of the vision seeker, from the howl of the wolf and the shiver of the quail, from sun, moon, wind and Spirit.

DAY TRIPPING

RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK/MOUNTAIN ROAD 

May to October 2010

            Just a 45-minute drive from my hometown of Shoal Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, otherwise “The Park,” is familiar and comfortable. I worked in Clear Lake for a couple of summers in my youth; my parents had a trailer there for a while. It is part of my history.

            This summer I drove through The Park five times, always north to south and always in the morning. Untainted and beautifully preserved, despite having about a dozen new hiking trails, The Park still offers a pristine landscape that teems with wildlife. On my drives, I spotted moose, deer, coyotes and, elk.

Grayling Lake in Riding Mountain National Park,  summer 2009. One of the last pictures Linda took of me.

              If you start it just as you enter The Park and drive the 80 kms an hour speed limit, the first Deep Forest CD lasts all the way through the drive and ends just as you leave.

            South of The Park and just past Erickson is Mountain Road, Provincial Road 357, once renowned for Philip Ruh’s magnificent Catholic Church, which burned down some years back. The highway takes you across the rolling foothills of Riding Mountain then, step by step, delivers you off the Manitoba Escarpment back onto the floodplain at Highway #5. The descent clearly features the various beach ridges of Lake Agassiz as the lake filled and receded over millennia. Finally, the last mile is a glorious chute around a gentle bend that is a thrilling finale to the ride.

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12 SACRED PLACES

12 SACRED PLACES

DAY 1

MEDICINE ROCK

 August 19, 2010

“I am afraid to touch it”

             I’m not sure how I first learned of Medicine Rock but I’ve been drawn to it in the past without success finding it. Four fruitless searches for the site – twice on my own, once with Linda a couple of years back, once earlier this summer – turned up nothing. I was beginning to think Medicine Rock didn’t want me to find it. That happens. But this time – aha! Fifth time is the charm. I have help this time. After four failed attempts, I find someone who actually knows where it is and can direct me.

Medicine Rock festooned with foliage and the offerings of countless generations.

            Harry Harris at the Alonsa Conservation District gives me immaculate directions to Medicine Rock, which deliver me there lickity splickly. I’m good at following good directions. East of Riding Mountain and south of St Amelie, MB I drive on good gravel that becomes not so good gravel that becomes no gravel at all, just dirt. The Mighty Avenger gets a good prairie trail workout heading into the bush then further into the bush then just a little further into the bush then a bit more bush, all the while churning up a fine black dust behind us. Next to a rough hand-painted sign leaning up against two oak trees, a path leads into the bush. Medicine Rock, at last!

            I smudge with sweetgrass in the car, get out and stand in the wonderful silence.  I wait in the warm afternoon for a slight loosening of the contraction of being we all have and can feel as tightness just behind our eyes. Until I feel the knot loosen a bit, I’m unsure if I am welcome. I wait.

            Turning, I see, 40 feet down the road I came in on, a half-grown black bear. It stops, looks at me and sits down. I say, “Holy shit, there’s Bear.” Bear is one of my power animals. Then another half-grown bear comes out of the woods, yawns, sits down and paws the air next to the first. I get into the car and wait for mama bear to show up. The two cubs eventually amble across the road and into the woods away from Medicine Rock and me. A few minutes later mama bear bounds across the road after the cubs, paying no attention to me but certainly knowing I am here.

            I am thrilled to see one of my power animals as guardian of Medicine Rock. The powers of courage and strength radiate from Bear, appropriate since many of the travelers and hunters who left offerings here over millennia sought those same powers. I wait in the car, alert, quickened by the knowledge I am not at the top of the food chain, a situation that occurs about frequently enough. In a while, I re-smudge and emerge into the afternoon to wait for the welcome. I feel a prickle down my spine and my face tightens into a big smile. I am welcome. Everything feels fine. I walk the short path to Medicine Rock singing my power song.

            Medicine Rock is a huge boulder, six feet high, ten feet across and eight feet deep, nestled in an aspen and oak glen twenty steps off the road. It is thickly garnished with verdant and wild foliage that grows from tiny cracks and narrows shelves on the rock. Encircled by dense growth, riff with elemental forest spirits and tangled in the music of aspen, oak and lark, the old stone is alive, its heart beats once every century. Content, it radiates power. Immediately I am brought fully into the moment, humbled, in awe of the ancient stone. I am afraid to touch it. I tremble.

            Walking around the stone on a recently mowed area, I hear a red-tailed hawk overhead, ever-present frequent guardian of sacred places. When I ask the old stone if I can take a few pictures, there is subtle acquiesce from Medicine Rock that escapes the grasp of language. Most inner events at sacred sites are state-specific, that is they exist only in one state and cannot be translated easily or at all into another. At this moment, my physical sensations are shivery and lightness, emotionally I feel very balanced with little bliss currents pulsing through my awareness.

            One of the on-site signs explains the Ojibway legend of the mischievous little people who inhabit both the material and spirit worlds. Medicine Rock is thought to be a gateway between realms. To keep the little spirits from becoming malevolent, tobacco offerings are left on the cracks and crevices of Medicine Rock. I leave one of my hand-made feather flyaways on a bush near the old stone, sing my power song again and thank Spirit for getting me here.

            Medicine Rock gives me a little gift. Just as I am about to get in the car to leave, I look down and there is a round piece of chert on the ground, about the size of a loonie and covered in little black polka dots. I pick it up and it’s a small scraper with evident chipping along one edge to make it sharp. It is small enough for a child’s hand, perhaps learning the life skills. I ask the scrapper to travel with me and it agrees. Thank you Medicine Rock.

             (Over the past few hours while researching and writing this report, I have wondered where the little scrapper might be. I have lost track of it. Searching for something unrelated just a few minutes ago, I accidentally picked up my briefcase by the bottom, spilling its contents all over the floor, scrapper included. Wonder spawns wonder.)

Side view of Medicine Rock

             I drive away elated and fulfilled. Since this is my first visit, I came with no intent other than to discover and explore. My experience at Medicine Rock is worth all the attempts and now becomes another useful part of my personal mythology. As a shamanic resource for me, Medicine Rock generates enormous strength, which I can now access to augment Bear’s contribution. When I need to return, alone or with a spiritual ally, Medicine Rock is an easy site to reach in dry weather, impassable when wet. The road leading into the bush just past the bush through more bush is black dirt, zero gravel.

 DAY TRIPPING

ASSINIBOINE VALLEY ARBORETUM

 July 28, 2010

            On this warm July evening along Highway 83, the wide Assiniboine Valley a few kilometers south of Miniota, MB offers its beautiful vista including several fields flooded by the river. At the south end of the valley, just off the highway, I discover the Assiniboine Riparian Forest Centre, an endeavour of Manitoba Hydro’s Forest Enhancement Program.

             Situated on the high banks of the Assiniboine and not flooded, the Centre covers several acres with dozens of varieties of trees and bushes, all well planted, mulched with straw and very healthy. Over 600 trees were planted in 2008 with more added this fall. Each variety has a written description and picture of it when mature, easily read from the winding well-maintained pathway among the flora. Along with Manitoba’s familiar coniferous and deciduous trees, the arboretum features many fruit trees, berry bushes and some hybrids.

            A maintained pathway, accessible from the arboretum, offers a pleasant stroll through the forest along the banks of the Assiniboine, a river with many secrets along its wide valley. The trail has benches and picnic tables, school and public tours are offered. The Riparian Forest’s grand opening is set for Spring 2011.

           

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