Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Mountain



Mine.
You can look, but remember who it belongs to . . .

Mountains.Beautiful. Majestic. Snow-capped. Towering.
Noticeable.
I love the mountains. Maybe not as much as my husband, who is a true connoisseur, but why quibble over details?
All my life, I have lived in the 'shadow' of the great Rockys. They were the immovable, dependable wall immediately to the west of us.
Our friends.
Companions.
Source of direction.
One distinctive peak, in particular, was familiar to us on the ranch. It was our nearest neighbour in the immense range. A huge block of stone, standing alone, with a large, rather squared-off top.
Boy scout troops had been know to clamber to its very summit.
Of course, that was in the early days, before danger was invented.
I loved it.
It was my mountain.
I just couldn't remember what it was called.
When we drove west, towards the ranch, it was the beacon, the marker on the horizon that told us we were going in the right direction.
Not a fact that I discovered with my fantastic powers of observation, however. I had to have it pointed out.
Mom and I were heading toward the ranch.
She was driving.
I was bouncing around in the back seat.
This was before such safety measures as . . . seat belts. Shoulder harnesses.
Discipline.
I had been laying on the back seat, staring up at the roof. Suddenly, I thought of my mountain. I don't know why.
Because.
I sat up and leaned over the front seat. “Mom?”
“Mmm?”
That was her usual response. It didn't necessarily mean that her attention was yours, but it was a start.
“Mom!”
“What, dear.”
Okay, the line was open.
“Where's the Old Indian Hill?”
“The what?”
“The Old Indian Hill.”
She laughed.
Well, really!
“Do you mean Old Chief Mountain?”
“Umm, okay.” Whatever. I just knew that the name had something to do with the Native tribes.
“It's right there, Sweetheart. Straight ahead. When we're driving to the ranch, it's right in front of the road.”
“Oh.”
She was right. There it was. Rising before us in all its purple glory.
Cool.
I stared at it. My mountain.
From then on, whenever we were travelling home, I would look out the windshield for my stalwart, immovable beacon.
My guardian. My defender and protector.
The Blackfoot Tribe called it, Ninastiko.
The Peigans, Minnow Stahkoo.
The white man named it many things.
But, to me, it would always be my beloved 'Old Indian Hill'.

Read the legend! http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/ChiefMountain-Blackfoot.html

15 comments:

  1. Well that's one landmark that's not going to change on you.

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  2. What a very sweet memory to have! Gorgeous landscape, you were very lucky to have grown up in a place like that!

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  3. You will never need a street post or directions with your mountain. It will always be there, waiting for you.

    I will check out the legend!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My late friend, Robert (Toad) Drew was always drawn to Chief Mountain and took hundreds of pictures from its summit. When he passed away, Gloria (his widow) scattered his ashes over Chief Mountain. Remembering our good friend, we sometimes refer to the mountain as 'The Toad Stool,' in 'honor' of our good friend. And don't ask me how he got the name, 'Toad.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty please with sugar on it, how did he get the name 'Toad'? (Will that work?)

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. I'm with Jenny. I want to hear Toad's story!!!

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    Replies
    1. It wasn't as significant as how the name stuck to him. In Biology the class was dissecting frogs and Rob started talking to his 'victim' in a croaking voice. Wayne was right beside him and called him a toad. The name stuck like glue. That's alright. A year later Wayne had to get all his teeth pulled out so we called him, 'Gumby.' Still do...

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    3. Two good stories for the price of one! Thank you.

      Delete
  6. As always, your memories transport me to a beautiful place where I sometimes wish I lived. But family is more important, as you well know. And I like how you knew when your mom said, "mmm..", she wasn't quite tuned in, but you knew how to get her there. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Melissa. I was so blessed. To have the beautiful view AND family! Thank you for visiting!

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a great landmark!

      Sorry for the jumbled replies. I must have been asleep yesterday when commenting; they were all over the place!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Jenny! I'm so glad other people also have THOSE kinds of days!

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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