Probably because of the pandemic, one of my favourite Manitoba places—Hecla Island—was terribly overcrowded when I visited two weeks ago. I’d never seen it so busy. At least twenty vehicles were lined up to pull their boats out of the water when storm clouds threatened. Nature seemed second place to all us humans trying to socially distance ourselves. Oh, the irony.
So, the following weekend I headed in the opposite direction. We went south to the Tolstoi area and hung out with hordes of wood ticks enjoying the Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve. The dog wore a tick collar, but I had no such protection. Anyway, we survived both the ticks and the heat and discovered some interesting blooms, including an endangered orchid—the yellow lady’s slipper.
Also interesting, was the town of Tolstoi (Why was it named after a Russian author? I don't know, but I like it!). Its Ukrainian church, built in 1927, has been beautifully restored. With the landscape and the church, I could imagine being in Ukraine and not rural Manitoba. It had bothered me, while visiting Ukraine, to see their beautifully restored churches amidst such abject poverty. Here in rural Manitoba, there were no babushkas sweeping the steps, hoping for a few alms. I wonder if they’re still sweeping entranceways in Ukraine and Russia?
Further up the road, we crossed the fast-moving Roseau River using an historic swinging bridge partially made of old farming equipment. When we visited, swimmers using rubber mats and kayaks were enjoying the cooling currents.
Always great to find new corners of Manitoba while exploring history and nature.