July 22 – Steinbach

Manitoba border

Manitoba border

I crossed the border yesterday after 8 days of enjoying Ontario and it’s hospitality. I have to thank Gail for being a wonderful host and for those moments where I thought, “This woman is a sister who I just never met.” I guess it is good that I left because I think both of us were starting to lack sleep because of gab sessions that lasted into the wee hours. It is wonderful to meet such kindred spirits on the road. Thanks for the connect Alison.

Last look at Ontario from the Manitoba border

Last look at Ontario from the Manitoba border

As I crossed the border I wondered at the way the lines for provinces were decided. I understand that each province has a diverse geography and many different types of land forms, but there is almost a clear line between the rocks of the Canadian Shield and the flat land of Manitoba, at least at that  border crossing. I can’t say how Northern Manitoba looks, although I hope to get a glimpse on the way back.  I think I will head to Saskatchewan and Alberta along roads south of the trans Canada.

Manitoba sky

Manitoba sky

I met Lenore and Doug through the couchsurfing site. They live on a small plot of land just outside of Mitchell near Steinback, right in the middle of Mennonite country. On my way here I stopped at the Mennonite Museum in Steinbach and spent a very enjoyable 3 hours lost in the past.  In many ways (can I say this?) It was like any pioneer museum, showing a way of life adopted by people who came to a country with many challenges but, some things were uniquely brought from Russian when they came to Canada. One of the things I loved was the concept of the housebarn. A house attached to the barn. I think I would have loved that on cold winter mornings when I got up to milk the goats. I am told that many of these structures still exist and are being lived in in villages south of here. I hope to see some of them. I love barns and I have always wanted to renovate one to live in. This would definitely give me the best of both worlds.

housebarn

housebarn

From what I can understand, with very little research into the thing, other than conversations that I had yesterday, being a Mennonite is a way of life, not just a religion. It colours ever aspect of living from morning til night, every day. I love that idea of a life that has work, play, spirit, emotion and land all tied together. It is a way of being that makes each breath  part of the community, the earth and the divine. That appeals to me because it is the way I am trying to live now. I felt a little ting of recognition in the presence of a community of people who have done it so long that it is natural to them. I will have to think more about that. Comments are always welcome if you are thinking about it too.

Sod house

Sod house

I am not sure what I thought when I heard about sod houses. I guess I imagined that they were built of big, bricks dug from the earth. Nope…this one is built with sod, just like the stuff people lay down for lawns. It is stacked like that light, layered, puff pastry, making a thick wall, that must repel the cold well. This one is dug down so that the windows are just above ground level and the home although low, is comfortable to stand in and very cozy. I loved the grass roof too. It looks like a very energy efficient, cost effective way of building. I wonder if people are still doing it? I will keep a look out for more of these wondrous structures.

Can you see the layers?

Can you see the layers?

When I got to Lenore’s, it felt like home. I could hear CBC playing in the house and the organic gardens are beautiful. As we ate dinner and talked about life, kids and grandchildren. Again, I felt like I was meeting a sister. I wonder about the miracle of couchsurfing.org. It occurs to me that people who volunteer to have strangers come and stay in their homes must be a special breed and that is why my experiences are so universally amazing. I am looking forward to continuing across the country and someday maybe couchsurfing as Erik did, in other countries.

I am heading to Winnipeg this afternoon to meet with a friend of Nellie’s and then will be continuing west. See you when I have another computer connection.

Lenore's garden

Lenore's garden

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