It seems to me this has been a summer of almost no bugs. I doubt if I have slapped a dozen mosquitoes all year and there haven’t been that many flies, either. There were a few fish flies at Little Loon Park, but no mosquitoes. With all the rain we have had, you would think there would be droves of the little biters. In the city, there might be a spraying program the public is unaware of, but all through the Dakotas and even at Greenwater Park – no bites! I’m not complaining, mind you – just commenting. Mosquitoes used to be an accepted though unpleasant feature of Saskatchewan in the summer. Have I just grown too old and tough to attract them, or are others finding the same phenomenon?
Then we spent a night at Redberry Lake Regional Park, and found out where at least some of the mosquitoes have been hiding. Of course, we were taking a shortcut from our campsite to the park centre and wound up walking through a marshy area at the edge of the lake, sometimes in ankle deep water. That might have stirred up a few of them.
Jenny came up on Saturday, and we made a motor home trip north. First, we introduced her to the Crooked Trees, north-west of Hafford. Jenny hadn’t seen them before, and was quite impressed. We thought the trees looked older and more weather-beaten than the last time we were there; there were a few branches that had to be tied up to clear the walk and some others that were quite rotten. There is very little new growth in the centre, likely because of the lack of sunlight, but quite a bit around the outside. The young saplings are just as crooked as the old ones, though there is the odd one that is straight and normal-looking. We had to wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to cut out some of the old trees that aren’t going to last long to make room for young ones in the centre.
We went from there to Redberry Lake to spend the night.
Next day, Sunday, we went to Blaine Lake and north. We paid a visit to the General Store, about twelve miles north and two west of Blaine Lake. It is in a farm yard and has a weathered-looking building (really, quite new) containing lots of antiques, plus a museum on the second floor. Also in the yard is a café where we had a pleasant lunch. Above all were the personalities of the family running the place. It’s well worth a visit on your trip to the area.
The Thickwood Artisan’s Tour was on and we called in at Pam and Bruno Klassen’s place at Pebble Baye (Yes, it’s really spelled with an “e”) on Iroquois Lake. Pam makes jewellery from just about anything you can name and sells it at very reasonable prices, according to Doreen and Jenny. I have a short attention span when it comes to jewellery, so went to Bruno’s workshop. He makes fascinating objects out of fused glass – plates, suncatchers, trays, and other ornaments. He is very enthusiastic about his craft and explained it in detail. He has a ring saw that will cut glass or tile, and a kiln to cook his projects. He will put a wine bottle into a ceramic mold and cook it; the bottle collapses and becomes a candy dish or whatever. He may cut strips of different colored glass and interweave them, then put them in the kiln and melt them down to make a suncatcher. Strangely, glass likes to be a quarter inch thick. If he puts some pieces in the kiln that are one eighth inch thick, they will run together until twice as thick. If he uses quarter inch thick glass, he can put it in a dish-shaped mold and it won’t run down the sides to puddle in the bottom, no matter how long he cooks it.
From there, we went to Shell Lake and got a site at Memorial Lake Campground. The weather was lovely and bugs not too numerous, so we spent the whole evening just sitting outside, visiting, around a small campfire. Jenny had brought her computer with her, and I had a book, but neither one got touched for the whole weekend.
This morning was coolish and overcast, but still pleasant and it took us a couple of hours to finish our flapjacks and two or three pots of coffee, again just visiting. We are too inclined to shut the door against bugs and just sit inside reading when we go camping. From now on, we are going to make it a point to enjoy the outdoors more.
We drove over to Parkside’s Honeywood Nursery; we had been there three years ago on an artisan’s tour out of Shellbrook but Jenny wanted to see it again. There is the “World’s Tallest Tiger Lily” sculpture outside of Parkside, relating to lilies developed by Dr. Porter at the nursery years ago. There are fields of lilies, many of them past their prime but many more out in full glory, every colour from white to black and the spectrum in between. We spent four hours there, walking around and taking pictures.
It never ceases to amaze us how many interesting things and places there are, just a few miles from us. These make the best outings – just a few days but packed with attractions.