Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at

Route Map

Route Map

Monday, June 22, 2009

Remover of Obstacles

I took a day off in Saskatoon, and it rained almost the whole day. Those farmers back in Delsie, the ones complaining about the draught, wondering about the biker woman who held up a pea plant in their midst and kept asking city-folk questions—I wonder if they’re in the same café asking what sort of goddess came among them and how she left on that loaded bicycle just before the needed rains fell. Is she, like Ganesha, a remover of obstacles to their harvest?

Meanwhile, as I rode away from Saskatoon this morning, the clouds still hung heavy over the prairie. I stopped in another café, this time in Clavet, where another cadre of old-temers surveyed the results of yesterday’s storm—35mm in Saskatoon, enough to set the peas in high gear. And it rained widespread in Saskatchewan, enough to get all the crops excited.

I rode on the wide paved shoulder of the Yellowhead Highway, a fine biking lane that could lead me safely all the way to Winnipeg. But traffic was heavy, and I wanted to get away from transportation and into the farming country. I wanted to become, for a few days, a part of the Prairie Casino, where bets are placed on huge tracts of land, bets that rain will water the crops, that hail will not trample them, and that the price will hold.

So after Calvet, I turned south onto a narrow paved road headed for Bradwell and enjoyed its quietude. I would follow such roads all the way to Yorktown, I thought, sleeping several nights in small villages along the way. But after Bradwell the pavement stopped and I swerved in loose gravel. A grader came along smoothing the road, (you can see its windrow of newly moved gravel in the photo) taking advantage of the recent rain, which had softened the surface. But the rain had also left muddy places, which I had to maneuver around. It seemed an obstacle removed from the farmers’ path to a good harvest had became an obstacle to my progress.

I came to the village of Allen, where a more major road joins, and where I was certain the pavement would return. But gravel continued another 24km to Young. Something about a long straight gravel road, narrowing to a vanishing point far away on the prairie, often sinks my spirit, as if saying there is no end unless you make one. But after two hours it did end, and I joined a good paved road leading to Watrous, where I write this. It is pouring rain outside, and the No-Vacancy sign has turned on at the motel.

I am leaning toward flying home from Winnipeg around July 9 and deferring the second half of Canada to another year. I am five days behind schedule, and it seems I will not get there by winter. But that is mostly an excuse. Really, I am getting tired and feel homesick. I am part loner and part lover, and maybe the lover is winning out.


  1. That long gravel road looks endless, I would catch my breath looking at it... and catch a plane soon in response!! We love all you being a lover! All to our benefit, and I can't wait for your Salon program "Vancouver to Winnipeg, the loner, the lover and the makeshift shifter rides again"! I really should contain my excitement or I will scare you away, and you will think I am incredibly selfish... and that I just want your help at the salon...

  2. You are a goddess, and you did bring the rain, and the farmers are happy, thank you from the farmers. A friend of mine recently became a farmer, and because he lives in New Mexico he has a watering system, and his farm is rather small, but I can't imagine praying for rain when I don't have a watering system and all that you can count on is mother nature.