Born in Saskatchewan
by Patricia Parkinson
I come from a horizon of flat land forever patched in green and yellow and brown and all sorts of beige and orange and rust in the fall and then nothing but sky and snow - white and blue winter.
When the spring came my mother’s purple crocuses broke through the Saskatchewan ice and I was allowed to walk to grade three.
“Don’t lose your mittens,” Mom said, and walked to the end of our sidewalk that ran up the middle of our lawn to a porch at the front door.
I kept turning around to see if she was there. She stood, her hands in the pockets of her parka that she put on over her nightgown, shifting side to side to keep warm. When I looked, she took her hand out of her pocket and waved and smiled. A straight line ran between us. During the day I pictured here there, standing at the end of our walk, looking down the street, still waving, waiting.
We moved to a horizon of ocean and mountains, to a province of initials and a split-level house inhabited by women. Without a dad, the line branched off.
I walked to school alone past St. Bernadette’s where the students wore plaid skirts and blazers with crests sewn on the pockets. The children walked next to me, past me. They walked a straight line. I turned.
“We can’t afford to send you to that school,” Mom said, adding, “and we’re not Catholic.” She went up or down the stairs. I stayed on the main level. She passed me when she walked by, coming and going at the same time to a different floor that went in another direction.
We were Anglican. I didn’t know what it meant to be either. At Sunday school I prayed for Moses to part the Pacific so we could walk back to Tisdale.
In the summer Mom took me to the beach and I saw the ocean.
“There it is,” Mom said, and pointed out the window of the car. We went down a hill and climbed the other side. “There! There!” she said, and pointed again, tapping her nail against the glass. I stretched up in my seat and craned my neck. There it was – there it went - I played hide and go seek with the horizon until it filled with water.
“Don’t go too far,” Mom said, when I started exploring.
I got lost in my footprints, in the caw of seagulls and the pearl lining of a shell, in colors that weren’t orange or rust and a tide that came and went in inches filling the tidal pools I crawled in on my belly.
“Not too far now!” Mom called. I turned to look. She was standing on the shore, shielding her eyes with her hand, shifting side to side on the rocks to keep her balance. She waved and smiled, and waited.