Jake MacDonald, award-winning Manitoba author, reviewed the book and said some very nice things. (Jake's new book, Grizzlyville; Adventures in Bear Country, will be published in April.) Unfortunately, the review says that "less than 1 per cent of North America's native prairie still exists". True, if by "prairie" we mean the rarest type, tallgrass, which once flourished in Manitoba, south-eastern Saskatchewan, parts of Ontario, and the American Midwest. But tallgrass is only one kind of prairie. As a whole, the North American prairie is in trouble, but the amount remaining is, according to Ducks Unlimited, somewhere nearer 25%. In some places, Alberta, for example, as much as 30% remains.
I am still in Toronto. Karen and I came for the weekend for The Freedom to Read week event Pen Canada and HarperCollins put on at the Toronto Public Library on Friday night. The forum was packed and CBC's Matt Galloway guided the four of us (Sarah Harmer, Taras Grescoe, Ken McGooghan, and me)through a lively discussion on freedom of expression and how it relates to writing about the environment.
Such a fine group to share a stage with. Sarah, gracious and open-hearted, impressed me with all she has learned about the Niagara escarpment, where her family has owned land for a long time. Taras, who looks to be 26 or so, but claims he is 42, told me he is working on a new book. (An exciting and important topic, but I am sworn to secrecy.)And Ken, who I have been hearing about for years from Stuart Houston, was lots of fun. The book he is working on is taking him away from the Arctic seas to the deep waters of our Scottish ancestry in Canada. Can't wait to read it.
It is Sunday morning now and we are staying with Mike Wild, a Saskatchewan friend temporarily exiled here in the Big Smoke. Among other things (ice climbing, mountaineering, engineering, and learning primitive skills), Mike grows grass-fed beef on land north of the Qu'Appelle valley. He and his wife Lorran work with Lorran's father and his wife to find ways of restoring health to their land while raising grass-fed chickens and cattle. When it comes time to sell a steer, they head out to the pasture and slaughter it right there. Better for the animal, better for the land (no grain was used in the killing of this animal), and better for us to eat (more Omega 3 fatty acids). One last picture. Here is a shot of the kind of Gypsy caravan Mike has promised me he is going to build and bring out to our land at Cherry Lake.