Summertime in Alberta

Columnist Liz Twan discusses a recent trip to Alberta.

We did something odd last week, taking a mini-vacation to Alberta (a wee bit of work) and Saskatchewan for a visit with my youngest son, as my picture-framer, Bruce Charbonneau (Frame Creations by Bruce), and I had been invited to exhibit my photographs (his amazing frame-work) at the World Hereford Conference in Olds, Alta. from July 16-18.

Bruce and wife Sue hauled the artwork, my husband Bronc hauled me and “naggin’ Nora” (my GPS unit) — aptly named because she nags and whines continuously (turn left, recalculating) each time we stray from the highlighted-route (often), keeping it up in spite of numerous requests to shut up, persisting until we pull her plug and restore good, old-fashioned, silence! She is, however, a saviour within cities. When we travel, the route chosen is that which takes us nearest to things rural, secondary roads that allow us to slow (without causing traffic-mayhem) to view ranches, farms and fields.

At Olds, we were stationed in the International Hospitality Room. The daily interaction with cattle breeders from Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hungary, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and the U.S. (and Canada) added new perspectives. The Irish men wanted to know how we kept the weeds at bay (way less here, they believed); our response — constant vigilance, hard work (hand-pulling, spraying, etc.), sheer stubbornness! A wonderful few days, although language was a bit of a barrier at times. It seemed that the commonalities of raising cattle overcame that; the guests and visitors were from all walks of life but had many interesting tales to share if you made the effort to listen. We ended with a visit to Regina (youngest son’s new home on the outskirts of the city). Back home again, we’re well-rested after eight sleeps in cool (air-conditioned) bedrooms; a welcome respite from the sweltering heat we departed in the Alkali valley, the week previous. They had a lightning-caused forest-fire while we were away.

Liz Twan is a local rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.