April's Here

FTLConm - Tisdale - April 1, 2001

As I look over the pages of Ensign over the months I see a fixation with the passage of time, perhaps even an obsession. Partly this is due to the realisation that we live in a remarkable and historical period, people will look back on the turn of the century and consider this as some turning point in the way things were and I suspect they will be quite right.

The second emphasis on time is that our lives, each of us really have no way of knowing what the span of our life might and all we can be certain of is that today we are here. Recently there was a discussion by some actuary types complaining about the apparent inordinate amount of money spent on everyone during the last three weeks of their lives. Lindy Thorsen of CBC Regina's noon hour phone in show had this as his topic one day and it troubled me. For who is to say what moment, in what life is more important than any other. To a dying person those last moments of life are without a doubt in my mind the most important as they might have the opportunity to draw together and savour the culmination of their existence Similarly if we who are not in our last years of life become ill or injured do we not value our lives just as highly and do we not expect efforts to be make to prolong and give us even a few minutes more of precious life.

On Ensign you have seen stories marking the last month of the century the first day of a month, the last day of a season and for the most part these stories are intended to give you a glimpse of this moment in time for once the pictures are taken, the page arranged and the text composed the page lives on. Ensign has been enlarging its pages each day since late May of 1998 and each of those days is available for you to revisit and experience once again.

This concept came to me some time ago when I began realising the importance of putting a line about the daily weather on the top of each front page. Then when I began putting each day's weather line on a single page and realised how interesting it is to check and see what was it like last year, and the year before on this day. One of the things that I discovered in this process is how unspecific memory is.

Though we take this moment for granted and think that we will indeed remember it we are fooling ourselves. Our memory is not nearly as comprehensive as we often think and serious study into it has revealed that much of what we have been told about our memory is also just not accurate. Our experiences of each day are recorded but if they lack specific significance they will not be carefully sorted and recorded into our long term memory system. Each night as we dream our mind takes experiences and attempts to organise these into memories, often keyed with emotion, and some effort to establish significance but that process is just an attempt because in time some things which were not deemed as significant become much more important later and we have no way of predicting this process in advance.

Ensign has been organised along the dimension of time and you can go back and see in the three years before when the geese showed up, when the snow came and went and what things looked like. This page today gives you a moment in time as I drove around this morning and clicked some images that caught my eye. The dry grass and partly melted snow on the neighbour's yard, the bend in the railroad and the fields beyond in the 10:00 morning sun, the few geese standing around talking about customs, lost luggage and sales tax, the castalanous cumulus clouds over head and the light getting through the unleaved trees revealing the old barn and at last a frozen pond of melt water by the intersection of highways #3 and #35 that shows that the sun has been warm enough to melt the snow but the temperatures have been low enough to keep the water in place.

We are not going change Ensign's obsession with time and its passage, perhaps no other element in life experience is as important, and that certainly seems the case to me as I grow older passing beyond middle age and realising that my days even if I don't stumble into illness and accident are far less ahead of me than behind. But in the mean time there is something you should know about.

You have no doubt, noticed the series of articles on the province, first it as a place and now a series about its people. These stories will continue until all the twenty-three identified groups have been discussed. This is the process of getting into a different mindset. Ensign has for these past three years focused here on the Tisdale, Nipawin and Melfort communities and it will continue to do so but it is being joined by a second publication.

Saskatchewan News is in its formative stages and soon will each day appear just as Ensign has each day but its focus is on the entire province and it will have a slightly different style and of course reports from around the province with attempts to develop correspondents who will keep us informed about happenings on a much wider scale. Though it will inevitably have political commentary it will also have pictures, stories and human interest material that will contribute to the way we as the people of Saskatchewan see ourselves. (Saskatchewan News is not available today, the name domain server for it is having some problems in Ottawa and we expect it to be back up and running tomorrow.)

An additional change to Ensign as well and Saskatchewan news is that both will move from their resident server, now in Winnipeg to here in Tisdale. This change will take a week or so to accomplish but will drastically change the accessibility of both sites as we will no longer have to rely upon the good graces of a Winnipeg Cable company. Ensign first began its life being served off of a server in Regina, then migrated to Winnipeg so it will be welcome when if finally comes home this week.