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

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Unfulfilled Fear

I feared the day’s ride from Rosetown to Saskatoon because my heading would be northeast. On previous days, wind would begin the morning pressing lightly on my back from the west and then swing around to the north by noon. Today that would be headwind, so I rose earlier than early and started riding soon after first light. But it was a stormy morning, not raining where I was riding, but I could see rain falling from several small storms all around me. As the morning progressed, the wind stopped its fickle storm-related spats and settled in to constant direction, hard and steady. The astounding aspect of this is that it came from the southwest. I was traveling northeast with wind directly on my back at about 20km/hr, a direction I have never felt on the prairie until today, and it was coming when I wanted it most. I feel blessed beyond all deserving. Someone wrote a comment on facebook, I think it was, quoting the old Irish expression, “May the wind be always on your back.” But why me?

Storms rained all around me, but they never came directly overhead; they rained on all the land it seemed except my little moving patch of ground. They seemed playful as children, darting around me as if to say, “Come run with us.” And run I did, at some 30 km/hr, fairly sailing across the land like a schooner, a prairie schooner.

I stopped at the first eating place I found, in Delsie, and sat at a table near the old-time men. It was easy to see who they were by the overalls, caps that say “Co-Op,” leather shoes where boots used to be before they retired. Their kind are more talkative in Kansas than Saskatchewan, so I held up a plant I had picked from a field, and looked at it with puzzlement.

“Peas,” said one of the men at long last.
“They’re planted as far as I can see, for miles” I said.
“Snow brought ‘em up. We ain’t had no rain.”
“We had fourteen inches of snow. Planted in April. Them peas are living on snow.”
“We got a bit a rain today,” I said trying to sound like a farmer.
“Not more than a trickle.”
“Are the peas for cattle feed?”
“Sometimes. Some for human consumption.”

I hoped to get them going on stories, maybe impressions. I wanted to feel for a few moments how life works on this harsh farming plain. I don’t know how people stand it here in the winter. This is hard country, cold and windy. But they know it’s hard and get ready for it. If someone complains, I suppose he just makes it harder for the others. These people have stamina, they know how to keep going.

Back in the western part of the prairie, in the wheat-growing land, this has been an extremely dry summer. The spring wheat is barely out of the ground, and unless rain comes soon, harvest will be scant. But in southern Manitoba where I’m heading, it has been a wet year, they say.

I rode into Saskatoon and went directly to the bike shop. I had called ahead, and they had a new shifter to replace the one I jerry-rigged back in Drumheller.


  1. I think you wore your rosy glass slippers and rose-colored glasses, got on your rosey bike in Rosetown and scared all the weather away. Flying along at an unbecyclable pace and showing up like a sassy farmgirl with a makeshift shifter. You were humming no, I know, you're in Saskatoon... like as in Loony Toons... yes. You're So far away, and trying to have a trickle of a conversation, discussing peas and rainfall with the natives... not quite poems at the Poets Salon, huh? Love you and miss you, may you sail along, even more swifly like speedy- Saskaschooner!

  2. Yeah for the new shifter. I feel shiftless as I read this.

    Loved your prairie ramble too. Will try to catch the next installment now.


  3. "Trying to have a trickle of a conversation," is right, Kath. Canadians in small towns are not as curious about nomadic bikers as their counterparts in the US. They are not harsh or resentful, just uninterested.

    Lois, "shiftless" is a word that summarizes what many are saying to me here, that my trek makes them feel lacking the will or ability to do or accomplish, incapable, inefficient, lazy. I wish it did not. I only go where itchy legs send me and where failures in other endeavors divert. Your are on who makes me feel shiftless.