As children of relatively mobile divorced parents, my brother and I did a lot of ping-ponging across North America. We flew as “unaccompanied minors” a few times a year; the two of us would be handed from unlucky airline employee to unlucky airline employee so that we would (hopefully) end up on the right airplane headed in the right direction. If we were lucky, some parent or another would be at the other end to get us.
One of those destinations was Winnipeg, a featureless, desolate “city” set in the middle of a vast and agonizingly dull prairie, split by a river that completely flooded the boardwalk every year (begging the question: why not build the boardwalk further up the bank?).
For a few years, we went to visit my mother and her boyfriend in the nearby town of Lorette. The summers in particular were interesting: her boyfriend owned a pair of horses and a large stretch of land. It was also, I’m convinced, the place where God keeps his stockpile of plague insects ready for the end times. I distinctly remember wading through waist-high grass in the fields while literally thousands of grasshoppers leapt around, over, and upon us. They were as big as my thumb, brown, gray, and green, and frighteningly loud for such small animals.
When the sun set, the mosquitoes would arrive. My brother and I slept outside in a tent once, and I will never forget the moment that the dusk fell and our screen was covered almost instantly by a mass of enormous black bloodsuckers. We huddled in our sleeping bags in terror until the sun rose and they disappeared in small puffs of smoke and sulfur.
(There was also an incident involving crop circles in the horse pasture, but I’ll save that for a later post.)
Next: Winters in Winnipeg