We cycled out of Saskatchewan today, this has been a favourite Province for some of us, so it seems appropriate to take a stab at some observations that make it unique.
- Bunny Hugs: we learn that this is the name that they use to describe what we call “hoodies”. I can hardly believe it. I can’t imagine a tough teenage boy using it in a sentence, like “yo, back off, you spilled Coke on my bunny hug!”
- Rugged Skin: this observation comes directly from Terry in Abernathy, who says that this is how Americans correctly identify them as Saskatchewaners. I don’t see it myself, with the exception of rough skin on their hands from farm work – men and women equally
- Land: I have mentioned before that people from Saskatchewan have a unique relationship with their land. Generations of families shape and are shaped by the land that they own. The land and their identities are intertwined.
- Neighbourly: perhaps as a direct result of the land relationship, the relationship with neighbours is fundamentally different. These relationships can be multigenerational and deep. I heard several conversations where people spoke reverential about their neighbours. Though I haven’t seen it, I can imagine that things can also go awry, where a slight or insult can resound through the decades, like the Hatfields and the Macoys.
- Canadian: I have not met prouder Canadians. They affiliate strongly as Canadians, more so than any other Province that I have been to. Even more than standing amidst a crowd in Ottawa during Canada Day celebrations, which was my prior high water mark for patriotism
- Charitable: we have experienced this everyday in Saskatchewan. There is a very well developed sense of duty to be charitable. It is their instinct.
- Community: many of the things on this list seem to coalesce and set the stage for a particularly strong sense of community. Though it send that it can take generations rather than just years to be something other than the “new” guy.
- Winter: like so many places in Canada, Winter shapes the people here. But what I notice is that it didn’t shape the architecture. Houses do not, from the outside, seem built to withstand the rigours of the cold and snow. I am used to Winter designs like in Fernie, where external walls are thick, frames are elevated to accommodate snow accumulation, roofs are built to shed snow. Perhaps there is a standard of particularly strong furnaces, which would negate the other design requirements.
- Trees: there are none. I can’t tell you how many times we decided to stop at the next shady tree, only to travel dozens of km further until we got tired of looking.
- Pride: as a whole, people from this Province are proud to come from here. So they should be. This took a while to sink in, as we are frequently asked “what are you doing here!” They mean “I know why I’m here, why are you?” Curiosity, not judgement.
Today I am waylayed by a worn out tire and finicky tubes. So much time is taken. It holds together well enough for our 125 km trip today, but the tire is not fully fixed until worked on by Jim 2, the incredible fellow that we met last night who we met again. This time we have him over to get out of the poor weather, we are regaled with stories of cycling and wilderness. We make plans to connect when we are in Kingston.