Thursday, October 3, 2013

Picnics, pioneers, and a pretty wet ending

In an attempt to be a fun mum and take full advantage of a beautiful fall day we packed up a picnic and went down our country road a couple of miles to this small church in the middle of woods and fields. This homeschooling business can't be all toil and drudgery!

 I've always wanted to go poke around this quaint looking church, and if ever we were going to move away I'd always regret not exploring these out of the way, but just down the road, spots. So even though packing up five kids in the middle of the day can be a Herculean effort in the drag department sometimes its worth it for the sake of soaking up nature and beauty and stuff. Plus getting out of the house is never a bad thing, right?

The area of Alberta in which we live is bespeakled with small churches in what seems the middle of nowhere. Down random country roads miles and miles from what towns but sometimes just a few miles away from each other. Some are still kept up by local parishes with priests visiting every few months for a special service or Mass, many have been boarded up and are falling in disrepair, but most like this one  we visited are still cared for in that the grounds are always freshly mown and the graves of the cemeteries clearly still attended to. 

Because this area was settled by mostly Ukrainians at the beginning of the twentieth century the rural country churches tend to be Ukrainian Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, and sometimes Russian Orthodox. There are usually domes and many churches have Byzantine style designs. They're truly beautiful and charming.

 I'm always moved by the fact that these pioneers who must have come from really dire circumstances in order to tame this very cold wilderness cared so much for their faith as to build small churches wherever they could. They didn't have much, many lived only in sod houses for years, but the churches remain as a symbol of enduring faith.

This church we visited had no markers left as to what denomination it was built to celebrate, and I'm not friendly enough with the farmers who live around it to dig deeper into its history, but I believe it must have been a simple, humble, yet sincere place of worship.

It also had a small cemetery in its grounds with the graves of about 30-40 people. And being the good Catholic mom I am I told the kids to come check out some gravestones. Because we all need to know that that's where we'll all end up. What's a picnic without a touch of the morbid?

These grave markers are of the real pioneers of our area, which is pretty amazing and impressive. There's not much more written history around here that's older than this person's lifetime. From what I could glean from more recent tomb markers, those making up this small cemetery were mostly of one family, probably those who farmed the land. There were quite a few graves of very young children and babies, which always chokes me up. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to be a mother in times of high infant mortality, let alone a mother living in the deep Canadian wilderness miles away from any doctors or child-saving medicine. 

But back to the scenic, natural beauty! It was a perfect fall day, still blissfully warm where we could even spot the flocks of birds flying south. 

It was a bit Hitchcock-ian. A bit crazy having that many birds swooping right over your head!

The kids were having a great time roaming around exploring with sandwiches and cheese in hand up until I wanted to take their picture. Then everyone got crabby. And weird. And threw their body in unnatural directions. I mean, I got one happy child out of five. You can't even see Max. And my own baby is giving me glares. And this was the best shot out of 25, I kid you not.

After we finished exploring, eating, and "praying for the dead people" as Dom says, we quickly drove down the road a bit further to a little "lake" which should probably be classified as a pond, but since this is Alberta and its a bit bigger than a puddle it earns lake status. We were approaching the dreaded nap deadline, so this was going to have to be a quick stop to avoid rapid meltdown in multiple people, and maybe the kids too.

I also brought along my sister, aka Auntie Nanny. She really comes in handy with the extra pair of hands and all. She's a great help with baby herding, really, she should put it on her resume. But neither she nor I was fast enough in catching Max when he took a run straight into the lake.

Canadian lakes at the end of September are not something you can describe as "warm". But remarkably the crazy boy thought it was fun and just stomped around in the water when I asked if he was freezing. It was funny to see the non-reaction from his siblings, "Oh yeah, Max...walking into a body of water...seems pretty normal."

Since Max was nearing toddler hypothermia I stripped him in the back of the car and he got to ride home in only a diaper and a good helping of sand. This was the close of our picnic adventure, as you can also see was a bit much for the teeny Nora.

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter because I believe all these qualify as Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real - I'll let you decide which is which!

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  1. Oh my goodness, that family picture is hilarious! Definitely one for the Christmas card :)

  2. What a fun fall outing! You're such a good homeschooling mom! I love visiting old cemeteries; it's such a human activity. It's so important to remember and pray for the dead. There are plenty of very old cemeteries to explore around here. It's so interesting (and heartbreaking) to see the families and and try to decipher the poetic epithets. Those old churches in your area- now that's really fascinating! The pioneers were such incredible people!

  3. Beautiful pictures and that sounds like a really wonderful day. The memories of things like this are what homeschooling kids remember, before the diphthongs and algebraic formulae really start to stick.
    (And judging by the cross on the Church, I would guess it's a Ukrainian Catholic Church.)

  4. What an interesting place to visit! I wish we had more places like that around here. The photos are lovely.

  5. Wow! If we want to go for a walk around here our choices are to swing by the Pizzasaurus Rex in one direction or the McDonalds/In N Out corner in the other. Not quite so scenic.

  6. This is so pretty! I love visiting old churches and cemeteries - I love their history. I'm so glad I wasn't born a pioneer. I don't think I could have handled all they had to, especially with the high infant mortality rates. So heartbreaking. I'm glad you got to enjoy some fall weather before it gets too cold!

  7. Love it,
    that last picture of Nora in her carseat, she has the expression of a grumpy old woman who has just had!enough!

  8. Looks like you had an AWESOME "school day" and I loved your reflection on the faithful building their churches. They must have been looking down smiling that you were there :)

  9. Beautiful! Oh I just HAVE to visit Canada one day...sigh...

  10. Love your outfit on wiws.... Your kids are adorable.
    New follower here!


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