Flying Low: Life on the ‘Double-D’
About 300 years ago I lived in the wilds of rural Saskatchewan, on a ranch 35 kilometers S.E. of nowhere. I was working part-time as a ranch hand/cowboy on a hardscrabble patch of land so economically desperate even the rabbits had part time jobs. The ranch, the Double-D (‘DD’), was named after a well known, and then infamous, local character. Legal warnings prevent my going into any more detail… The work was hard, long and low paying, but I’ve seldom had a job with more inner satisfaction. After many a long day, my co-worker, Annette, and I would grab our favorite horses (for me, ‘Santé’, a retired barrel-racer) some reins, and take off, No saddles.
In the back of mind, in a secure storage center safer than any earthly hard-drive, is a short video-loop of me and ‘Santé’, airborne across the flat-open stretching-outward forever prairie. She was a horse who lived to sprint. We’d crest a small rise and the wind would pick up and her ears would instantly pin back…and off she’d burst forward …one blurry elongated stretch of animal with a small human nestled in the nape of her neck. I still see every blade of grass; hear every one of her breaths, her massive powerful, undulating body cruising along on a war footing. And in those oh too brief moments, we were the eye of the storm of unalloyed pulsating enjoyment. Of being..something you don’t forget.
In Saskatchewan the land is very flat, and then….it gets flatter. (On a clear day, if you look very hard you can see the back of your head…..). My halcyon days there were spent on a shared ranch-house with my friend Theo who, among other talents (mechanical engineer, deep sea salvage diver, poet, musician, etc.), taught crop-dusting and did the job himself. He mostly worked over the long hot sunny months and, often he worked for our neighbor, a grain farmer with a massive spread who also bought and sold used airplanes and had a 1500 ft runway on his land. Occasionally, on a late sunny afternoon, I’d be sauntering home from a dusty day on the Ranch and would suddenly hear the low powerful drone of Ted’s crop-duster heading in to land on the strip, which paralleled our place.
Ted, being Ted, would spot me on the ground (no place to hide) and dive in to buzz by. On this particular day I had a camera. These little events and the days generally seemed so ordinary and natural back then. So ‘everyday’. But now, years and years later, that life seemed miraculous!
Gonna remember this if I get too complacent about today’s ‘ordinary things’!