Alkali Lakes and Gas Station Attendants

Saskatchewan farming machinery posed along the prairie highway are huge and fantastical–like giant Transformers. Far away, sections of fields methodically burn. Little birds hopscotch across the warm pavement then rise together to chase off crows, smacking the giant birds on their heads.

Ethereal mist across Alberta grasslands makes the highway blanch to invisible, sheets of rain hundreds of kilometres away mask your approach; the disappearing self, and a grey falcon settles on signpost.

Innisfree AB: We stopped for gas atop a rise to see the lake below releasing sand into the wind in great gusts of white.

Birch Lake drying up
Birch Lake drying up

We visited with the young attendant who wore a tall turban and sported a long beard. Before it became too busy for me to take his photo and name, he shared that he was originally from Etobicoke. He explained that a number of Alberta lakes are drying up and so they blow off alkali. I asked him about being in the North. He said, yes, especially through the long quiet winter nights, this is North.

Another gas station stop found us meeting 2 women from Japan here on a visa and another who is happy to live in Fort Nelson (originally from Phillipines) and enjoys the small town community.  Asuka and Tomoyo don’t want to go back and while the winter was hard, they were awed to see the northern lights 4 times. Mary asserted (like an old-time Canuk) that Pshaw! This past winter was mild! To all of them , Yes this is North…although they’d been even more north to the Liard River hot springs which was our destination that night.

L to R: Asuka (Toyko), Tomoyo (Hokkaijo) and Mary from Fort Nelson BC
L to R: Asuka (Tokyo), Tomoyo (Hokkaido) and Mary from Fort Nelson BC

One thought on “Alkali Lakes and Gas Station Attendants

  1. Valerie Tourikian June 17, 2015 / 1:14 am

    Catherine, your writing is beautiful and clearly inspired by the beauty of our country!!! Please enclose a picture of the two of you sometime soon!!!


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