“Mommy, mommy, come quick. The sky’s on fire!”
No! Cale said he would burn the stubble tonight. Had the fire got away on him? I dropped my knitting and ran outside.
Marjorie was right. The sky was on fire. The setting sun was painting the clouds red, yellow and orange, all edged with gold.
I remembered my first prairie sunset, 10 years previous. I had never seen the like in England. A chinook arch, a continually roiling mass of reds and yellows, golds and purples. It left me breathless.
“Oh, my!” We stood still, hand in hand, awestruck.
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The back story:
We prairie people say there is nothing to match a prairie sunset. The setting sun ushers out the day in a blaze of glory, a spectacle of yellows, oranges, reds and golds, an ever-changing palette that slowly fades into blues and purples and indigos before winking out.
It is never twice the same. It inevitably brings gasps of “Wow!” and “Look at that!” and “Isn’t that amazing!”
It’s guaranteed to cause us adults to drop our adulthood and regain that child-like wonder at the mystery and majesty of the world around us.
What did my maternal grandmother think the first time she saw a prairie sunset? I like to think she did as we all do, that she stood in awe of the spectacle unfolding before her. A glorious welcome to Canada.
One thought on “Fire in the Sky”
This story instantly reminded me of another âprairie wonderâ that I experienced the first time I set foot in Saskatchewan on September 10, 1967. There was a most unusual smell in the air as we got off the west-bound CPR train in Reginaâs Union Station at 5:30 a.m. that morning. So I asked my prairie companions â Valerie Best and Carol Ruhr â what it was, as I had never smelled anything like it back in Quebec, and the air on board the train for the previous few days was an aroma all to itself, liberally mixed with smoke from the diesel engines. Valerie and Carol took a sniff and calmly said: âOh, thatâs the harvest.â When you live on the prairie, you donât smell it, as it gradually permeates the air from day to day, but coming off the train (or an airplane today), it hits you with a marvellous force.
I wonder how many pioneers who arrived at that critical time of the year likewise experienced their first smell of our prairie harvest. Even today, newcomers to our province in August or September are likely to catch this unique odour, as Mother Nature repeats this annual phenomenon.
The smell, like the sight of the changing sky, is all part of what makes the prairies unique and, as you point out, makes you recall similar times from your distant past. Even over a half century later, I recall this amazing event as if it was yesterday.
My various recent ailments â eye surgery, Covid, and sore ribs from a fall on the stairs â are all starting to heal, and I should be back in good shape early in January. Something to look forward to in 2023. Good heath comes second only to an adequate supply of food.
Frank Korvemaker, M.S.M.; SAA (Hon)
Archaeologist / Archivist / Construction Historian
59 Compton Road
Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 2Y2
Tel: (land line)  586-1405 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Corporate Archivist for the Saskatchewan Association of Architects
For Information on the Association: http://saskarchitects.com/