Designing the Season

Saturday before supper
they take on spring in pickups
make the rounds through mud
jaunty the ruts of latticed country roads
my father at the wheel of the green Dodge
Uncle Stanley passing whiskey
dumped in gulps on fizzling coke
serious talk mists the windows
the business of men solemnizing the drink
under uncle’s arm I clasp my own small whiskey
my unsure place in the swell of heavy cigaretted voices
gestures arms describing the history of rock piles
crumbling barns and micro-climates
wonder at the disappearance of the fences
the future imminent and sipped uncertainly
too early to seed
tractor’s up on blocks
fertilizer’s not in yet anyway
farmers surveying the promise of the season
described in tones of changing sky
great stakes ascribed to cloud configurations
the unexpected icy breeze on Tuesday
the arrival of the swans before the melt
voices heavy with speculation nibble at hope
we drive the straight roads
soothed by their predictability
the blocks of changeling fields
coloured and contained by rough hands
sketching in the smoky air
my reflection floats hazy
in the amber drink
I see only the black fields
and a long summer ahead

~ Bruce Strand

“I grew up on a farm in the Peace River country where I developed a strong attachment to the land and the outdoors in general. Besides writing poetry, I enjoy cross-country skiing, canoeing, and photography. I teach in an Alternative High School in Red Deer. I have had some poetry published in journals and broadcast on CBC Radio.

Home is filled with the voices and noises of the people I love, who share the same space and put up with the noises I make. Home is the emotion I attach to places where I feel comfortable and free, places that I know well or that have become familiar. Home is built on layers of memories and lined with the old skins I have shed.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

One Response to “Designing the Season”

  1. Bruce these are wonderful poems. You’ve put us right in that truck, with the whiskey, the dad and the uncle. Great stuff.

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