the green green grass of home

You know that saying about how grass is always greener on the other side? Well it resonates with me this week because I have been enjoying a summer of discovery here in Manitoba’s Interlake region — and loving it. I am truly appreciating how good we have it here in Manitoba.

Before I started doing travel writing, I had always hoped for the day I would no longer call Manitoba home. I thought the grass was greener on other side — because British Columbia has the ocean (and many other wonderful things), Hawaii (particularly Maui) has everything I like — perfect weather, natural beauty, an abundance of fragrant flowers, humpback whales, great snorkelling, wonderful beaches and serenity — etc, etc.

No, this isn’t BC or Hawaii. It’s Camp Morton, Manitoba, right here in the Interlake and not more than 30 minutes from where I live.

It seemed I was always singing praise for the attributes of everywhere — but home. Until I started travelling for a living and came to realize how expensive it is to live in other places, how unsafe it can be (whether because of natural disasters, crime or political unrest) and how much my own friends and family who have moved away really miss this place. After all, we are friendly Manitoba. People here really care about one another. For the most part, we are not a selfish bunch, but rather, a populace of giving people who volunteer more than any other region in Canada. That says a lot about our residents. We care enough to give our time, our money, our hearts to a cause. The same cannot be said for many other Canadian jurisdictions. And yet, Canadians as a whole are indeed a giving bunch. So the fact that Manitobans top the heap says a lot about what makes our province such a special place to live.

If you are from Manitoba, you know what I mean. If you used to be a Manitoban, but now live somewhere else, you probably know what I mean even more. We are a place that is seldom chosen as a destination for travel — unless to visit family or friends who live here. Yet, those trips are often the best trips of many people’s lives. It is the richness of the relationships that makes us a wealthy location. We may not have the highest per capita incomes or the most dramatic scenery, but we have the biggest hearts and the widest shoulders. We understand the true meaning of friendship, loyalty and loving our fellow man (or woman.) We are real in every sense of the word. And I’ve come to appreciate that.

Hats off to the folks who came up with the Manitoba Homecoming 2010 program, which has brought many more Manitobans home for a visit this year than most. More info at: http://www.manitobahomecoming2010.com/. It’s been great having you all here. Come back and see us again soon. And if you’re really smart … you’ll come back to stay.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

12 Responses

  1. Erin Reel says:

    Sounds lovely, Doreen. Perhaps Manitoba is the perfect place to host a writer's conference…( :

  2. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Erin. Always great to hear from you. We did indeed host a national writer's conference here in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2008. (I was the local chair of the event!) The Professional Writers Assn of Canada has a writers conference in a different Canadian city each year. See the June 10/09, June 8/10 and June 15/10 for more on the last couple of conferences. I met Katharine Sands (our mutual colleague) at the 2009 conference in Toronto.

    Come see us in Manitoba sometime. We have a thriving artistic community!

  3. Suzanne says:

    I loved visiting you in Manitoba. You have beautiful beaches and water and I always feel at home near the water. Glad you found the grass is green on your side. I also agree Manitoba has some pretty amazing people – friendly, kind and welcoming to visitors.

  4. Ryan Parton says:

    As a fellow Interlaker (who moved West as many of us do), I can appreciate some of the great things about the region. Grand Beach, the "secret" beaches near Matlock, and even the hot dogs at Skinners (although I was always more of a Half Moon man myself).

    I think you've hit the nail on the head about the genuine relationships of Interlake folk. I'm always amazed at how my brother-in-law's family keeps in touch and how involved they all are in each other's lives.

    Maybe there is something to this whole idea of Manitoba being a great place. While you continue your research, though, I'll stay out here on the coast. Although I've always wanted to surf Lake Winnipeg….

  5. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Ryan! You definitely could have surfed Lake Winnipeg on Sunday! The winds were up and the waves were amazing! The pic above was taken on Sunday. Gorgeous natural beach at the old Camp Morton Provincial Park. It made me think of Pacific Rim National Park because of its similarly rugged beauty.

  6. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, also, to Suzanne for your comment. Yes, indeed, the grass is certainly green here in Manitoba right now. But the leaves are beginning to fall and I'm coming to realize that the party will soon be over.

    For the record, I shall never abandon my dream to live in Maui. It is fully my intention to make that beautiful island my home, and if the stars align … it won't be too long before the grass will always be green beneath my feet.

  7. MAF says:

    Great shot of Camp Morton lakeside, Doreen! Even as a born and bred Manitoban, I had no idea of its former provincial park status.
    Wanted to share another made-in-Manitoba moment. Friday night I attended the first ever River Barge Festival that took place at the Forks in downtown Winnipeg. It was an amazing evening of music set on a barge situated right at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. People brought their own lawn chairs or found a place to sit on steps, lawn or retaining wall, sort of an urban Folk Festival seating arrangement.
    The highlight of the evening was a performance by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra who went through a number of tunes including what was the top of the charts in the 1700's, a composition by Handel, then a rendition of Beatle tunes and towards the end, Olympic violinist, Sierra Noble, joined the mix with some fiddlin' and singin' for a rousing finish.
    Meanwhile water taxis, cruisers and kayakers gently sailed by and even the occasional train leaving Union Station chugged by on the trestle over head. It was a magical event set against a picture perfect Winnipeg evening! Even Maestro Mickelwaithe commented on the evening as being one of the highlights of his career in terms of the cool-factor!
    It was a good time!

  8. wizardofwords says:

    Sounds wonderful, Margaret! Wish I could have been there.

    But we had our own magical Friday night right here in the Interlake. Dinner at "Seagulls" patio resto on Lake Winnipeg in Gimli, followed by live Theatre by the Gimli Theatre Assn at the Aspire Theatre (congrats to all the gals in the production, and especially to playwright, Mary Kapitan, for her delightful segments in "Slices of Life." Too bad there wasn't a talent scout in the audience!

    May these magical Manitoba moments live on forever.

  9. Margaret Ullrich says:

    I've been happy to call Manitoba home since 1975.

    I grew up in New York – even worked on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Don't miss the hectic pace. My husband and I lived in Surrey, British Columbia for a few years. Don't miss the months of rain.

    Manitoba's beauty is a well kept secret.

  10. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much for your comment, Margaret, and for joining the tribe. Welcome aboard!

    Your comments ring so true. So many people who have never been here think there is nothing much to see. And so many who grew up here can't wait to leave, thinking the grass is always greener on the other side. Those who listen to their hearts often find their way home.

    Hope to hear from you again soon.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What a pleasure it was to stumble on your Manitoba-as-home post. It is funny to realize at some point that we belong to a tribe, that the gift of friends and family cannot be trumped. You are very wise. It makes me smile to think how where we belong — and thrive — is sometimes different than we'd once imagined. Thank you for such lovely writing.

  12. wizardofwords says:

    Thank you for such a supportive comment. It is very much appreciated, as is your participation in the blog. Ciao for now, and do drop in again soon.

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