The Big Country

Apr 08, 2012: Sunset over John's Wheat Stubble

The Big Country is the Canadian West;
It’s a country of swirling grain fields,
Miles and miles of rolling cattle ranges,
A country of oil wells,
And some of the most amazing sights man has ever seen.

The Big Country is a red and gold sunrise in the east,
It’s a purple and gold sunset in the West,
It’s a clean south wind, and a pale blue sky,
It’s a flower on a cactus,
Or the dust cloud being raised by a herd of cattle.

The Big Country is a tipple leaning into a hillside
Waiting for another load of coal.
It’s a man standing¬†bareheaded¬†in a field
Letting the good grain
Trickle through his well-worn fingers.

The Big Country is all this and more.
It’s the roar of diesel engines
Driving a bit into the earth.
It’s the glint on a silver oil field battery tank,
It’s the whirling rumble of a locomotive thundering
through a prairie night.

The Big Country is many things to many people –
A child running for a yellow school bus,
A four man orchestra playing to a laughing, smiling, crowd
In a community hall in a small prairie town.

The Big Country is the crack of a .22 rifle
As the apprentice deerslayer practices on a rabbit.
It’s a country that has lived a full life of adventure,
A colourful life, well rounded
By the wind and the sun of a prairie summer.

The Big Country has been shrouded in gunsmoke,
It has been drifted over with earth
In the summers of the dusty days gone by,
It has been mantled with crisp, clean snow in winter
And crocuses in the spring of every year
since time began.

The Big Country has everything a man could want,
Not skyscrapers, or mile upon mile
Of cluttered concrete or hard top roads.
It has a softness, an openess,
A cleanness, that you find nowhere else in the world.

In the Beginning, the Lord Made Heaven and Earth.
He took a bit of each and set them down
On this part of Alberta,
Now known far and wide as
The Big Country.

– T.W. Dawson
Production Manager,
C.J.D.V., Drumheller

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This poem was originally found in Shadows of the Neutrals and Open Memory’s Door as published in its entirety on ourroots.ca, in chapter six on pages 189-190.

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