Saturday, 13 September 2014

Autumn - Beautiful Season, Exciting Times

With autumn colouring our world, I should try to keep up to speed on my blog as well - deck it to match the season. The killer frost that crept around during the night a few days ago, is a clear indication that our warm days are numbered. But at least we haven't had a snow storm here in Manitoba yet. Only Alberta has the distinction of being powdered with those pretty white particles almost every month of the year.

Some exciting things have happened in the last few weeks: We're back and school... yes, still settling in, trying to get ourselves organized, and the things-to-do list is growing. But still, it's good to be back!

My family has been hosting friends from Germany the last little while. It was great to see them experience Manitoba, or listen to their stories of all they'd taken in - and they saw a lot: Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, Hamiota, Brandon, Riding Mountain, Swan River, Pelican Lake, The Pas, Dauphin, and the Peace Gardens at Boisevan. They were quite excited to be able to say they were in the USA, as part of those gardens stretch into that country.One day they also went into Sasketchewan, I think, just to say they were there - if only to take a few pictures with the sign.

A proud Marianne on her lofty perch.
 If you remember, when I was working on the German POW research project. My virtual path crossed with Lutz Beranek's, as he too was researching this era. His father had been a prisoner of war in Canada, and spent most of his time in Manitoba. So the purpose of this trip was for Lutz, his son, Marcel and sister, Marianne to visit the places where Lutz' dad had been stationed. I met Lutz and his wife last summer during my time in Hannover, Germany. We spent a weekend together and they made sure my birthday was a memorable one. It was great getting to know Marianne and Marcel now as well, and I was happy to return the hospitality I enjoyed while in Europe.

 Lutz, Marcel and Marianne were fascinated with our huge farm machinery, especially the combines and semi trucks. One day when we out on the field Lutz pointed out, "Our fields are not big enough for such big machines." They were very grateful to spend time on two Hutterite colonies and learn more about our way of life.
Marcel and Lutz trying out the combine

I have to share one of their adventures while traveling around Riding Mountain. They were touring the area with a guide, Michael O' Hagen, who's also involved in the German POW era. One day they came to a spot where a forest fire had left a lot of half burned trees. They wanted to get to the ridge beyond that forest, and would have to brush their way across debris and thick underbrush. Marianne opted to stay at the vehicle. At one trampled down area the guide pointed out that an elk must have slept there... not so long ago, as it was freshly trampled. They looked around, but saw no elk.

Meanwhile, Marianne was happily taking pictures of wildflowers in a meadow near the road where their car was parked. Once while bent over in an attempt to capture a little flower, she heard something behind. Thinking this was the men coming back, she wasn't alarmed at all. When she turned around, however, she froze. Not 15 feet from where she was, stood an elk. It stared at her for a few seconds and then ambled on. Then she remembered her camera, and as she was still shaken, she was unable to take a picture before the elk was back in the bush. At that point she also realized the car was locked. When she told us the story she laughed and said, "That's all I would have needed, if a bear had come along, and me not being able to get in the car." She was of course very excited to tell about her four-legged visitor, when the men came back a few minutes later. After that, Marianne made sure the car wasn't locked and the key was in her pocket, when the men decided to do a little side trip on foot.

Barbeque supper, or Grillfest  at my brother James' and Karen's house.
They really enjoyed beef, which they hardly have back home - too expensive.

Lutz summed up his trip like this: "My father enjoyed his stay in Manitoba immensely, deeming it as 'the best years of my life'. Now I know why, I'm enjoying it as much as my father did! This is like a dream come true! I don't know how we can ever thank all the poeple who hosted us, who have been so kind and helpful."

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