Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Man from Swift Current - Chapter One - An Introduction

Chapter One – An Introduction

I’m really not into introductions, but I guess something has to be done to start this story off.   So let’s start with the facts: 

Name:  Glenn Nielsen, Age: 17, Height: 175 cm. (about 5’9” for my American friends).  I’m really 173 cm. (5’8”) (but who’s going to really call me on it!), Eyes:  grey-blue, Hair: Blond.    Of course, all of these facts can be found on my driver’s license.  

Do these facts tell you who I am?   Do they define what I can become?   Do they tell you about my experiences, or my dreams?  NO!  They are just a physical description intended to identify me to the proper authorities!

Oh, I’m supposed to let you in on some of the facts about my family.  Why?   You got me.   I guess maybe they have a part to play in this story; so, okay, let’s start with siblings:  three brothers and one sister.   The oldest, Gary - 24, is married and has two kids.   The next one, Randy – 22, joined the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and lives in Vancouver.   Then, there’s Eric, 20, who still lives at home and helps Dad on the farm;  and, last is the youngest, Nancy - 16.  She looks just like my mother with her flaxen yellow hair and grey-blue eyes. 

(NOTE:  Dad is very strict with her; especially about boys.   She has always been Dad’s favorite and is super over protective of her.   Dad has scared off more than one guy, much to my sister’s chagrin.)

Dad:   Dad is a very reserved and quiet type.   We have never been close.   I know he loves me but we are so different from each other.  It is like we were born on different planets. 

Mom:  I am very much like my Mom.   Mom is a very refined woman.   She is a very accomplished musician and loves the theater and the arts.  Dad met her while he was at the university studying engineering.  

Mom’s family never really liked Dad much, and it didn’t help matters when they both dropped out of college to live on a farm in the middle of the Canadian prairie.   They felt like he had stolen their daughter from them.    In my parents’ case, the distance between Saskatchewan and Atlanta, Georgia, makes casual visits non-existent and special trips that far south very infrequent.   Most of the time, we meet my mother’s parents in Buffalo, NY, when we go down east to see Dad’s family.

Who are we?   We are dry farmers.   My dad usually plants two crops of wheat a year.  My great-grandparents settled our farm in 1910 moving here from down east.   For my friends who don’t know where down east is located, it is what we call the banana belt of Canada in southern Ontario where the rest of our family lives.   We always tease them that they can’t be true Canadians since they don’t know what a real winter is like. 

The western part of the family - Aunt Kate (she lives alone since she has never married), Uncle Dave’s family, Uncle Ben’s family and us) caravan down east once or twice a year to visit my Dad’s brothers and my grandparents. 

The family down east:  Uncle Allen and Aunt Margaret live in Ottawa, Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Gordon live in Fenwick, Ontario, Grandpa and Grandma Nielsen, Uncle Carl and Aunt Hannah all live in St. Catharines, Ontario.

When we travel down east, we stay with Aunt Sylvia in Fenwick or with my grandparents in St. Catharines.  My cousins like taking us into Toronto to stay with our oldest cousin and take in the sights and sounds of the city.   To be honest, the city kind of overwhelms me.   My cousins just laugh at me when I ask why anyone would want to live in the middle of so many buildings with so many people around.  I love going on those trips.   They are always filled with lots of fun, playing games with my cousins and eating all kinds of food.  

Last June, we went to St. Catharines to stay with my grandparents.  My Uncle Carl took us across the border to Buffalo, NY, while Grandpa went for his cancer treatments.  No one said anything to us kids, but I knew that Grandpa wasn’t responding well to the chemotherapy.  I overheard Dad telling Mom that we probably wouldn’t see Grandpa again in this life, when we left for home.     

Dad bought the farm from Grandpa when my grandparents moved down east.   Dad likes farming.  We lived on the farm next door to Grandpa’s until last year.   Dad decided that we would move into his parent’s house and rent out our old place to my brother, Gary, and his wife, Jessica.   My grandparents’ home is much nicer than our old place.   I actually have my own room now, instead of sharing a room with my brother, Eric.

Eric and I get along, most of the time.   Eric is 6’2” with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes.   He is like my dad in many ways.   He went to the University of Toronto for a couple years, but didn’t like the big city.   He came home from school last year and announced that he wasn’t going back.   Mom and Dad were just a little upset.   They had hoped he would be the first one to graduate from college of us kids, since Gary and Randy had both elected not to go.   Eric confided to me that he wanted to marry his high school sweetheart, Laura, and settle down on a farm just like Gary had done.   Since high school, Laura had moved to Shaunovan which meant that Eric started spending a lot time staying in Shaunovan with our cousins, so he could see Laura.

I hate living on the farm.   It is out in the middle of nowhere!   There isn’t any internet service and very little in the way of entertainment.   Our nearest neighbors are three kilometers (approximately two miles) down the road.   Looking out the farmhouse windows, all you can see is wheat fields for kilometers and kilometers broken by an occasional line of trees.   Our farm is very close to the Canadian border with the USA.  The closest “big” city is Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  We lovingly refer to it as “Speedy Creek.”    Swift Current (SC for short) has most of the amenities a farm boy would want, despite being a small prairie town.   There is a very nice aquatic center and several other recreational facilities where you can rent a skating rink for a hockey league, etc.   There’s a bowling alley and other places where teens can hang out with their friends.  My cousin, Ben, is in the local hockey league.   He and his friends have taken me under their wing and include me in their activities when Dad lets me and Nancy stay in town with Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary.  Ben is my age and his sister, Cynthia is the same age as Nancy.   The girls usually keep to themselves except when Cynthia decides she wants to flirt with Ben’s teammates, which seems to happen often now days.

My Uncle Dave is the manager of the Canadian Tire store and his wife, Aunt Mary, is a nurse and works at the local hospital.   I really like them both.   They are so laid back, and seem to know how to handle teenagers and their mood swings.   I have never seen either one lose their temper.   Sure, I have seen them get angry at us, but they have never raised their voices to us, or made us feel stupid.

Well, did I give you enough information to get us started?   I hope so.   I kind of got us wrapped up in a lot of other stuff besides basic facts for a minute.   Sorry about that my friends.   Let’s get to my story.   Remember, it’s all about me – a farm boy from the Saskatchewan prairie.   I don’t mean to come off sounding arrogant, but this is MY story, so don’t get in my face about it!   Oh, one last thing.   I hope you enjoy the journey!


Anonymous said...

Nice start....I like the style you have..the story unrolling...thanks:)

Rachel Ravenheart said...

I love all your stories so much so that I have gone back and reread most of them. Thank you for sharing them.