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Greetings from the fields of Saskatchewan. This is the first time I've had a chance to write. It is eight o'clock and the sun is still high in the west and we are rolling along the Trans-Canada towards Calgary. Should pull in around midnight, all going well.

Mariposa Folk Festival was a wonderful time, a highly enjoyable reunion with old friends Don Bray from Barrie and Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch from Nashville. I was fortunate enough to share the stage with all of them and was treated to a trilling selection of new and old songs, accompanying and being accompanied by these excellent musicians. Dave and Geoff were outstanding in both the workshops and main stage performances. Many thanks to Randi Fratkin for the opportunity to attend and contribute.

Our departure on the Monday following was accomplished by the crack of nine, as the night before we said goodbye to the Tenneseeans over a glass or two of Old Bushmill. So on three hours sleep I drove from Orillia to Wawa. I never felt better to tell you the truth. Must have been the adrenaline. The next day saw us pushing on for Winnipeg. The drive was tirelessly beautiful, as seemingly endless procession of changing vistas, one more spectacular than the last. I found myself wondering how anyone could reduce such a trip to the oft repeated "lake, trees, rocks" mantra. On the numerous occasions when I had hitchhiked through the region I felt much the same, but this time there was a sense of wonder and gratitude that all this was "mine", by dint of citizenship. It was one long unfolding gift. Maybe we should make the drive mandatory for all Canadians, just so we can realize what we have and how lucky we are as a people.

The monument to Terry Fox overlooking Thunder Bay was a moving and sobering place, somewhere to take stock of what you have been blessed with, to reexamine your own life in the context of that young mans struggle. There was a reverence to the place.

We left Winnipeg this morning at the crack of nine yet again, this time held up by the need to make phone calls and check e-mails, but have been enthralled by the sweep of the prairie and the living sky. The thrill of seeing grain elevators again, trains running at speed along a far horizon and the tireless rise and fall of the oil wells, like robotic insects from the Iron age, all stirred deep memories of days spent by the side of the road with my friend Derek Cooke, trading stories and cigarettes, contented and at peace with the world.

With any luck we will be in Calgary late tonight but until then, we have a cloudless blue sky and fertile prairie facing us through the windshield.

We are indeed blessed. Will write again soon,

Thursday, July 12
The Prairies

David Francey appearing next week:

July 20-22
Islands Folk Festival
Duncan, B.C.

Click here for the complete summer schedule...