Give thanks for the land, but don’t assume it’s secure

A little farm-boy asked to say grace before dinner. Half way through, he paused to ask his dad, ‘do I ask for rain, or no rain.’

In his world, any prayer included reference to the impact of weather on crops.

Moving from a farm town to a city, and then a logging town, one of the biggest differences is how people talk about the weather. We all do, but outside of agricultural centres it doesn’t revolve around seeding and harvest.

There is farming around Slave Lake. It’s an important industry in Smith, Flatbush and Kinuso, but the farm stores etc. are in High Prairie and Westlock.

As of September 23, the Alberta Crop Report says the harvest in this area is slow due to the weather. Crops include spring wheat, barley, oats, canola, dry peas and potatoes: harvest ranges from zero percent canola to 75 per cent potatoes harvested.

Even rural industries which aren’t connected with farming, such as logging and oil, have a close connection with the weather and the land.

It seems odd, that much of the climate action is happening in cities. For most urban dwellers, the weather seldom impacts their ability to make money. People in rural areas, be they farming, engaging in traditional harvest, gas and oil, forestry, etc. are all greatly impacted by the weather and what it does to the land.

Most people in rural Canada are only a few steps away from economic dependence on the land. The people connected with the earth, seem like the best people to fight to keep it healthy.

Very few of us have the patience and time to live completely dependant on the land, but Thanksgiving reminds us of our historic and continued dependence on the produce of the earth.

Thanksgiving is tied to harvest. The Anglican Church has a Sunday of thanks around Thanksgiving. Giving thanks for harvest isn’t uniquely Christian. Most cultures have some type of harvest feast. In the northern hemisphere, these are in the fall.

Cree culture also has a harvest feast. Esther Giroux, of Swan River First Nations, says the Cree have a feast with traditional food to give thanks for the moose, edible plants, berries, and medicine. These are all found in the bush through out the summer and include saskatoons, wild blue berries and cranberries. These are either dried or canned in preparation for winter. Another aspect of the feast and ceremony is to honour those who came before.

I don’t think anyone outside of science fiction really believes in a Planet B. No other planet yet discovered can support life.

While the disconnect between the land and rural Canadians is less than our urban counterparts, there is still a disconnect. Very few of us grow all of our food, or know the full chain from sheep or synthetic yard to the sweaters we wear. While subsistence farming isn’t the answer for most of us, as we give thanks for the abundance of stuff which we can buy, it might be a good time to also consider, how our spending habits effect the world we live in.

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