Long Reads

Long Reads: The Land Holds Memories

There’s a certain defensiveness that comes when you tell people you love the prairies. Saying you love the ocean or the mountains brings nods of understanding, but acknowledging love for flat grasslands often brings questioning looks and head shakes.

The sun sets in a blue sky streaked with clouds. In the foreground, green and yellow grasses are on top of a small hill.
Sunset at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park by dbstockphoto via Canva

You have to work to love the prairie. It’s challenging. It doesn’t come with the towering grandeur that mountains shove in your face. But the prairie doesn’t let go, either. Once you see its colours-the soft gold and rusty purple, they latch on with barbed teeth. Or at least that’s how it’s been for me.

Perhaps it’s their difficult beauty that makes prairies so easy to destory. No other ecosystem is more endangered than Canada’s prairie ecosystems. An argument could be made that neither is any ecosystem so easily overlooked.

In her essay, The land holds memories, Alanna Mitchell, explores the good and bad of prairie landscapes, what it means to live and love this imperilled landscape.

“[Prairies] are misunderstood. People who don’t live on them tend to envision amber waves of grain. They don’t know the original prairies that draw me in, the lichen-crusted, sun-bleached, sere grasslands tufted with sagebrush that long for the bison’s kiss.”