Writer’s Block: The Town Welcomer
One young girl treasures the Prairie sentinel that looms over her hometown as a welcoming beacon.
Carrie looked out the rear window of the family car. She saw the grain elevator slowly shrink into the distance behind her. Soon, she couldn’t even read the white letters of her town printed across it. The car drove farther and farther away, past fields, pump jacks, towns and farms. “I hope they don’t get rid of our grain elevator while we’re away,” she said. Her younger brother Michael, who was sitting next to her in the backseat, looked up from his video game. “I hope they don’t either. I want to see it go down!” He threw open both of his fists at Carrie and made an exploding sound.
Carrie turned away from her annoying brother and looked out the window. Her town had two grain elevators, but yesterday she watched a demolition team use a track-hoe excavator to bring one down—now only one was left standing. There wasn’t even an explosion. The grain elevator just fell over and shattered into a big pile of wood. The broken pieces poked out of the pile like Pick-upSticks. What would it look like if both were gone? What if someone tore down the last grain elevator while they were away?
As they drove, Carrie liked to read the names of towns to her mom and dad. “Here’s Kinsella!” A little later, “Here’s Irma!” and “Here’s Fabyan!” She was excited to cross the border into a new province. “Welcome to Saskatchewan” the sign read. “Saskatchewan” made Carrie think of the tongue twister, “Six thick thistle sticks.” Uncle Connor lived in Saskatchewan and that’s where they were headed. Carrie thought the big fields of Saskatchewan were beautiful. The car whizzed past yellows and all shades of green. She even
saw a field of blue. “Flax,” her father said.
Like Alberta, not every Saskatchewan town had a grain elevator. “Most of them don’t store grain anymore so they have been torn down,” her dad explained.
Soon they were in Prince Albert at Uncle Connor’s house. The first day, after hellos and a snack, they mostly played video games. Michael loved that Uncle Connor had all the different types of video games. On the second day, they played more video games. Carrie was officially bored. She loved to play outside, especially baseball, but her cousins really weren’t interested in outdoor games, so there really wasn’t much to do. On the third day, they went swimming at the pool, which was a lot of fun. It was nice to see her cousins again, but Carrie missed home, and she was happy when it was time to go back.
Her mom drove most of the way. Carrie missed crossing the border back into Alberta because she was sleeping. She woke up in Vegreville to find the car stopped at a gas station. After they filled the car with gas, they left the big highway and headed south. They drove for a while on a gravel road that rumbled under the tires and sometimes a rock would ping and clatter under the car. Carrie was hoping that when she got home her friends would have a game of scrub going at the school’s baseball diamond. The first thing that she wanted to do was to grab her glove and head out to play. But when was she going to get home? “Where are we?” asked Carrie. “Almost home,” her mom replied.
All Carrie saw was farmland and fences. She spotted a coyote loping across a fallow field. Then, as her eyes scanned the horizon, she saw it. Carrie gave a little sigh of relief. There were still a few miles to go, but there was the town’s grain elevator, towering in the distance. Michael would probably get his wish someday soon, but for now it was still standing in front of her town, welcoming Carrie home. ■