Thoughts on the address given by Lynda Haverstock at the 2008 Birding Symposium
By Kathy Morrell
Dr. Lynda Haverstock President and CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan and special guest “Spook” at the YFBTA AGM and Bird Symposium
Photo by Rob Wilson
“Like everyone else, I get out of town to be in a place where a good chunk of nature remains available to my senses. When our souls want restoring, we do not go sit in the middle of parking lots. We go where life is a little less scripted, a little less conscripted.” Trevor Herriot, Jacob’s Wound, A Search for the Spirit of Wildness
Of the five attributes Haverstock listed as things the traveler is seeking, Saskatchewan has them all – a peaceful and relaxing setting, a safe environment, a sense of place, freedom of expression and an authentic experience. Might I add that the trails of the Yellowhead have these same attributes, too.
There is peace in the shoreline reeds reflected in the still waters of Carleton Regional Park. There is safety, too. The hiker wonders as the grass snake slithers into the long grasses beside the trail.
“Why panic,” the visitor wonders, “in a place so protected?”
Along these trails, there is a sense of place – a sense of the small and a sense of the mighty. Who can forget the image from Raymond Lacusta’s video of Joan Wilson carefully bending a wild flower towards the camera’s lens so we all can see and appreciate. Who can forget the might of that little bird of prey – the falcon with its piercing dark eyes and talons? Who can forget the freedom of the sky and the wind as, in image, we follow the falcon’s flight upwards and then further upwards before that final swoop towards its quarry? And who can forget that unique photo of the turkey vulture – ugly, oh so ugly, and yet unique.
The Birding Symposium reminds us that the trails of the Yellowhead offer a unique sense of place that is peaceful, safe, free, and restoring.
“Saskatchewan, like Canada, offers geographic diversity in a vast expanse of sky and land,” Haverstock continued in her presentation.
The Yellowhead area merits a similar comparison. Great mounds of cloud climb skyward over Slough View Park. The sunset over the slough at Cherrydale tinges the water with a rosy hue. The sun highlights the Painted Ladies, the butterflies Arden Bradford described at the January meeting of the YFBTA. The rat-a-tat of a woodpecker echoes across Anderson Lake.
The appreciation of what we have comes in the looking and listening – for movement, colour, light and expanse of land and sky.
Our world of Saskatchewan offers an authentic experience of nature – a reality untouched by the changes introduced by man and industry. Wander the trails. Leave behind the competition of the golf course and the financial demands of producing more in order to spend more. Experience a space free from chemical pollution and the dictatorship of time.
“And, like Canada itself, the province is undervalued as a tourist destination,” Haverstock added.
And like Saskatchewan, the unique experience of the Yellowhead is undervalued because it is so little known.
Tourism Saskatchewan spends $2.5 million dollars annually promoting the province. In the Saltcoats-Melville area, there are more than 100 events, attractions, and tourist related businesses. Tourism brings 24 million dollars per year to the local economy, yet, local attractions remain largely unknown and undervalued.
St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” And yet travel to broaden the mind and restore the soul does not require a jet, a passport and a suitcase full of travel brochures. The traveler simply asks a location “where a good chunk of nature is available to the senses”, that unique place where the trail opens on an ever changing vista of light and sound, of plant and bird and animal.
To value what is ours – walk the trails of the Yellowhead this spring, summer and fall. Let us not say that we undervalue what is close at hand.
The trails of the YFBTA offer a unique experience where “life is a little less scripted, a little less conscripted,” where the solace of Nature is there if we leave the confines of our cars and the sterility of the paved parking lot. Let us value what we have. Let us marvel at a unique place that is peaceful, safe, authentic and inviting. Let us bask in the blessing that is ours along the trails of the YFBTA.