Saturday, 15 September 2012

Spirit River: If only it wasn't so cold.

Today I took a little dip into Spirit River. A virtual dip, I mean.
The name intrigued me. Also 'spirit' and 'river' are two words
I ... well ... I just like! I'm not sure what I was expecting,
something wild and tribal I think. Instead I found a tiny little town
with great big farming machines, somewhere in Alberta, Canada.
Someone in that tiny town visits my blog, so I decided to pay them a visit.

I didn't find the actual river. But, courtesy of Google, I took a trip
through the town and its history and its happenings. I tried imagining
what it would be like if I was actually there, not just looking at it
through my computer screen and imagination.

First of all, I would be very very cold. The winter photographs
looked a bit like the Christmas cards my parents used to send out
years ago. And I would be very brown. Everyone else in the town
is white, with very rosy cheeks. I did click on a picture of
a Greek Orthodox church to see if there were any Meditteranean
skins to keep mine company, but no, everyone there was white too.

"Everyone", in the case of Spirit River, refers to a little over
1000 people! Just 1000 people. It sounds better than New Zealand!
(Whenever I get fed up with the crowds of humanity I can't help
but encounter in Bangalore, population how-many-million?,
I dramatically announce that I am moving to New Zealand
where I heard there are more sheep than humans. I like sheep.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I am agoraphobic. Travelling down
the road is hard enough. Getting on an aeroplane is not currently an option.)

But I digress. So there I am, little brown me with my nearly
bald head, in a snowy town of 1000 snowy-white people. Yet
I don't believe this would be an issue. Every face in every picture
is smiling. And they appear to be very happy people. They have
huge expanses of clear blue sky above them, fields of green
(outside of snow-time, I presume). Their lives seem to be full.

If I were to create a story from all the pictures I looked at,
this is the story I'd tell:

When they're not farming, they play golf. They ride horses
on the trail, whatever that is. They have parades and ride around
in the most gorgeous antique cars. My, how those cars GLEAM!
Absolutely stunning. Their motorcycles are all polished and lovely, too.

They win hockey tournaments, and go curling, whatever that
may be. I'm assuming it's some sport played on ice, although I think
it would be more fun if it were a more energetic version of spooning.
They plant trees and they garden; soon they will be swimming.
In a heated pool, I hope. They have knights and an unlimited supply
of ducks. They're in touch with God and they sing with glee,
and though their history may not be monumental in the global
context, they treasure it.

That was my favourite part of Spirit River:  visiting its history.
It was a bit like reading Little House on the Prairie and  
Anne of Green Gables at the same time. I saw little barns
and cabins that could actually be lifted up and transported
on wheels to new venues. I saw grain elevators that looked
as though God had plonked down a few giant milk cartons.
I saw a lovely evocative photograph of Pearl and John Jarvis,
seated in a field in 1932, and my mind is already imagining
a story to go with it. I saw the Molinga triplets and wonder
whatever happened to them, and if their descendants are still
out there, giving birth to multiples. I looked at the Whites,
playing musical instruments in their home, and thought
how similar we all are - tens of years later, thousands of miles
away, I do the same thing with my friends (minus the violin).

I read about the fire of 1921 and wonder if the whole town
burnt down, and then I think that if it had, there must have been
something special about the place for them to want to rebuild it.
I read about the young man who died horribly when a combine
harvester accidentally poured a load of grain over him while
he napped in the empty box of a grain hauling truck , suffocating
him. But I also read about people from this tiny town - young
people who had left and moved on, and now, decades later,
are finding cousins and grandparents all around the world.

I even found real estate listings of big sprawling spreads
of land and beautiful wooden houses. Within my budget, too!
Clean air, happy people (and not a lot of them!) and wide open
spaces. Apparently they age extremely well. I saw one picture
of a white-haired lady busy on top of a ladder, painting the church!
They keep their cars clean, and they recycle. It looks like heaven
from here. Even the curious fact that this town of 1000 feels
the need for a taxidermy shop could not put me off.

But ah, if only it wasn't so cold. (Well, that and the agoraphobia).


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You got a really useful blog. I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.

Nazneen Tonse said...

Thanks!!! That's lovely to hear. I wasn't sure what you meant by my "success" but for me, if someone spends time with my writing and says it has been an inspiration, then I consider it a success :-) And also very motivating for me! Thank you for taking the time to write and tell me!

Town Spirit said...

This is absolutely wonderful. You need to know how touching this was to someone from Spirit River. As a total stranger, you managed to reach right into the heart of the community, the place. Looks like you were here in time for June Jamboree! Please, will you allow Town Spirit (the blog about Spirit River) to post this piece so that local people can read it? If you ever want to visit Spirit River again, hopefully Town Spirit can get you here without the journey through the snow! Thanks. Absolutely wonderful.

Nazneen Tonse said...

Wow. Town Spirit, your comment has given me goose bumps! I am so delighted that I was able to connect to the spirit of Spirit River! And I'd love you to share it with everyone else in town. I'm honoured.

Town Spirit said...

Goosebumps all around then. I'll post it tomorrow. Thanks again!