I ran for the hills today.
I know people who have travelled the world over. And at times, I envy them that . . . to see the Greek ruins, the great pyramids, Stonehenge . . . aye me, that’s a long time on a plane.
Me? I’ve been to the easternmost point of Canada and the westernmost point of Canada, I’ve lived in five different provinces, and I’ve seen the beauty our great country holds from coast to coast.
OK, so I haven’t been to Manitoba yet, but really, what am I missing? (Sly jab at my Winnipeg friends.)
Never have I explored more, though, than in my current backyard. Southern Alberta continues to amaze me, with its remarkably calm lake waters, its massive blue sky, and its majestic Rocky Mountains.
It’s how I relax . . . escaping a world in which I’m trapped by schmoozing, phones ringing, demands, transit lineups, and deadlines.
I head to the hills, climbing trails that leave me breathless . . . not only by the effort, but by the sights I see along the way.
I happened upon one spot two years ago at Sibbald Flats. It seemed like nothing more than a meadow, a grazing area for cattle.
But I could feel a sense of calm wash over me. There was something so very spiritual about this land.
And then I found the memorial marker, explaining that this site was indeed a holy spot for the Stoney First Nations. This band of people would erect a ti-jurabi-chubi, a sacred dance lodge.
According to the marker, the dance, as described by Chief John Snow is an ‘expression of joy and ecstasy of a religious life, of being thankful for life, the beautiful creation, the rain, the sun, and the changing seasons.”
The lodge, made from freshly cut trees and shrubs, was decorated with colourful banners hung on a central pole. After a ti-jurabi-chubi, the lodge is left to time and weather for dismantling. It is a religious symbol and visitors are asked to leave the site undisturbed to allow changing seasons to do their work.
Today, I returned to that spot.
This time, however, the Stoney band had held a ti-jurabi-chubi and the lodge was left standing.
It brought a whole new level of understanding and serenity to this beautiful place, a site so rich in history.
It never was just a meadow.