postcards, the road to Grand Forks

Left in the cool morning to drive to Grand Forks, through Boundary country, the wide fields and fall colour just ravishing. We stopped at places we stop every time — the side of the highway near the summit of Anarchist Mountain to look at the yellow farmhouse standing alone in a pasture.

house-by-anarchist-mountain

Michael Kluckner wrote this about the house:

The ranch just to the west of Anarchist Summit is known locally as the Lawless place. I was told by Fred Lawless of Cawston that it was built of squared and dovetailed tamarack timbers that have been sheathed with horizontal drop siding. It actually looks like a typical frame house, perhaps balloon-framed. The interesting point is the clear span across the living-dining room, supported by a major beam parallel to the side walls; that open room, together with the large kitchen and pantry (it must be a pantry as it’s windowless) supports the notion of many ranchhands being fed, with the family’s own quarters somewhat separate at the front and upstairs, where there are probably three bedrooms (it is only about 600 square feet).

Don’t you love that phrase, “dovetailed tamarack timbers”? It sounds like a dance, perhaps a square dance (dovetailed), and the music? Oh, Patsy Cline, whose music was our soundtrack today, the old sweet songs of love and loss. (“Don’t leave me here, in a world/Filled with dreams that might have been…”) Yet a house has been left and it’s as lonesome a house as any on earth, with its memories and its emptiness, the ranchhands and the family all dead and gone.

A stop in Greenwood for espresso and butter tarts at the Copper Eagle and a walk around that beautiful little town. We camped here nearly 30 years ago and looked at the museum with its well-organized exhibits, eating ice-cream on the street afterwards. And John and I came back to the museum in 2009, trying to find out about Phoenix, a place where my grandfather lived briefly (as a miner) in 1911. I wrote about this search in Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, wrote about the drive over Phoenix Mountain on a backroad, using a small map from the museum and finding so little left of the community — and nothing of my grandfather.

All the fall colour, the shades and shadows. This Doukhobor village (it might be the Ozeroff village?) just west of Grand Forks, which I believe was in the process of being restored a few years ago but now it looks abandoned, given up on. I scrambled along the highway, trying for the best view, pushing aside choke cherry branches almost the exact colour of the houses:

doukhobor-house

The faded pinks and the tawny grass remind me of a consolation waltz, maybe with Patsy singing again, a woman alone on a long road, heart wistful for the lives lived in old houses:

I walk for miles along the highway
Well, that’s just my way of sayin’ I love you
I’m always walkin’ after midnight
Searchin’ for you

 

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~ by theresakishkan on September 19, 2016.

2 Responses to “postcards, the road to Grand Forks”

  1. I know that house! A week ago we passed that way ourselves. The Anarchist stretch is an old friend, but this was my first time through Grand Forks and out along the Crowsnest to Alberta – we’d always turned north at Rock Creek and then up to Kelowna but this time we were heading out for a much longer run. Such beautiful country! So full of those who came before, as much in the intangibles as the buildings they left behind. And as happens so often, your words and images cast an enhanced light on places we also journey through. Wonderful parallels. Thank you.

    • I’m so glad you read this and know the houses too. (And I hope you had Russian food at the Borscht Bowl in Grand Forks…) Have you read Frederick Niven’s Wild Honey? A strange hybrid, hobo memoir/novel, with some beautiful writing about the Boundary country as well as the Thompson Canyon.

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