Writer’s Block: The Town Wel­comer

One young girl trea­sures the Prairie sentinel that looms over her home­town as a wel­com­ing bea­con.

More of Our Canada - - Contents - By Carol Mackay Qualicum Beach, B. C.

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. ■

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