Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To Know a People

The journalist will hunt out the edge of the story; seek out that element that will grab the reader and carry her through. I got thinking about that as I read the full-page spread on the Prince Albert Kennel and Obedience Club annual dog show. Three dogs were highlighted, as the writer sought the edge; a Poodle, a Finnish Lapphund, and a Japanese Chin. As the writer failed to highlight our dog of choice, my daughter's Afghan Hound, I was less interested.  (James racked up an impressive twenty-five points over the weekend, taking Best of Group twice). By focusing in on a few animals, the article did highlight the obsession that drives these breeders and handlers to travel hundreds of miles to show off their animals. The writer quickly lost ground in his brief explanation of the points system, no doubt in fear of losing his readers. For those of us on the inside, though it's all about the points and standings, and for my step-mom and me, a table of the winners and points earned would have served us better.For my step-mom especially, the show allows her to reconnect with old friends, to get the latest skinny in the dog show circuit, to build relationships and create new ones.

Which gets me to the edge of my story, the difference between a quick story and taking the time to really get to know a people.

It was a treat to visit Prince Albert for the first time, a decently sized community on the edge of bush country. It hugs the southern shore of the Saskatchewan an impressive river of joined forces, North and South. But I could not spend the decent time needed to really get to know its people and this place.They have an impressive casino. But I hope that monstrosity does not define this city.

On the five hour drive to Prince Albert, we made a pit-stop in Turtleford, population 525. Race Trac Gas is the place to be, at least for grain farmers looking to chew the fat. A half-dozen plastic lawn chairs are arrayed at the entrance, every spot filled. Is the local colour there for our entertainment or theirs? On the way through I grabbed the town newsletter, "The Arrow", to see if I could get a sense of the place. Weekly events consist of one Yoga class and three Bingo's. Oh my.

What could be found about the people of Turtleford, if I were doing more than breezing through? Is there a beauty to the endless horizons of Saskatchewan, where change is measured in inches?