Any flatlander with big mountain dreams inevitably ends up at a place like this – the biggest hill they can find nearby. In our town, this place is called Abe’s Hill. Runners and hikers gather here to build their strength, 30ft of elevation at a time.
Thanks to Mike, Devyn, and the whole Arete crew for building dreams here together.
On Thursday evening, Aug 4, 2022, a few of us took on the Peace Trail, a 48km proposed trail linking The Mennonite Landing on the Red River near Niverville, MB, via Tourond Creek and Blind Creek, to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach.
Here is an 8-page zine in haibun format documenting the adventure.
After the performance, another student who went on to a career as a professional opera singer in Vienna came up to me and said, Linford, what was that? It was like the whole room changed. Did you feel it? I could feel the music on my skin.
I wasn’t sure what to do with that feedback at the time, but I thanked him. And yes, I have come to believe that when you put certain musicians together there can be a chemistry — a sort of chemical reaction — that people can feel on their skin. Music can make the body begin to change in real time.
I heard it on my skin, the time you began to play your piano, head down, nobody but a crowd milling about the room. My friend turned, his tingling skin lighting up his eyes with water. Where did the music come from, a well so deep we could feel it in our toes and rising.
Every two hours. Up at the smallest whimper indicating unrest. Slipping into a hoodie and crocs to watch in the dark a dog the colour of night relieving her discomfort.
I watch the stars in their orbit. At 2am orion is rising in the southeast, 4am he’s shifted his weight to the south.
But then, out of the corner of my sleep-ridden eyelids, a dancing light. In the north. The aurora, ever elusive, appearing only when most soundly sleep, appearing from behind the neighbour’s willows, dancing up and across the sky.
Quickly rapping the bedroom window, I wake my sleeping wife to the spectacle. Even as the pup pads through the darkness around our feet, we watch, breathless, the dancing lights.
On Sunday morning, July 3, 2022, I visited each of the 22 “pocket Park” in Steinbach, MB. I wrote a poem at each, and recorded them in a pocket notebook.
Most of Steinbach’s pocket parks have been generously donated by families in memory of loved ones, including many founding pioneers of the city.
In preparation for the project, I made a 24-page notebook to record the poems. I also printed a map provided by the City of Steinbach (more below). What I failed to consult was the weather, which would make things interesting. I didn’t have a specific theme in mind, trying to see what I could see, experiencing the town from a different perspective.
A beautiful sunrise created me at the first park at 6:o6AM, at Giesbrecht and Hwy 52. As I moved east and south, roughly down Main St, checking off parks on my map, the clouds grew darker. By 7:10AM it had started raining. The park closest the post office had no coverage, so I moved quickly, and missed the plaque entirely, which stood on the other side of the bushes from the bench where I’d stopped. The next park between Earl’s and RBC offered plenty of tree cover, but curiously no plaque. I took my time to try to let the rain pass.
After moving quickly through the more “urban” pocket parks on Main, I noted the peaceful change in conditions at the Kroeker (& Elmdale) park. The KR Barkman park, equally peaceful, turned out to be more than a pocket park, but maybe held a place on my map because of the historic plaque.
From there I ran my furthest jaunt over to the Meadows, with a park commemorating a young person, and finished at the pocket park within a larger park at LA Barkman park (Abe’s Hill).
Over the entire route I covered 9.08km and wrote 22 poems over a total time of 2:29.
The City of Steinbach provided this map, which I followed for my route. This resource details many as well, and includes the newest pocket park (on the path nearest Grandview Dr), which was likely not included in the map I followed because the plague has not yet been installed. I ran past this one, but did not stop. Next time.
This evening in spring we checked the flower beds for moisture and green shoots. We trimmed and dug up the old raspberry patch and read bedtime stories. Taking the dog out one last time, we pointed out the first of the night’s stars, speculating when the flower full moon would rise. I tried to write all these events in a way that would make them seem ordinary. Alas, I could not.
This is the fifth season of Tuesday morning track workouts with the Arete Endurance crew. Since the beginning of the RunHaiku project, Tuesday morning haiku have featured the happening on this 400m loop of asphalt.
Isn’t it amazing how much wonder can occur on a small patch of land, and the sky overhead, and how ordinary moments with friends can be treasured over time?