Anticipation of spring makes me think of some amazing geographical and cultural place names in Manitoba. These places would cause me to pick up and go explore the outdoors - take my bike, a pair of binoculars or my canoe, camera, video camera, or any other digital device that will help me to capture an image or a "digital memory".
There is a great book that was published some years ago by Manitoba Conservation called Geographical Names of Manitoba. For example, Rolling River First Nations community, located southwest of Erickson, is named after the Rolling River, "itself named from its turbulent, boisterous, swift, running nature, over a rough, stony bed." The Rolling River, the Little Saskatchewan, the Assiniboine and many other rivers in southern Manitoba are navigable by canoe or kayak for short periods of time each spring, swiftly taking spring melt-waters to larger rivers. Spring is a great time in Manitoba for short day trips on local rivers.
Postmaster Helgi Tomasson (1905) indicated that Hecla was named after Hecla in Iceland. When Icelanders sought new homes in America, it was partly due to land scarcity and partly due to the fear that volcano Mount Hecla might erupt again, causing damage and disruption. Today, our Hecla is a provincial park where hiking, camping, and spring outings to see the returning sandhill cranes makes a wonderful spring day trip. For golfers, the Hecla golf course offers great spring links on the edge of Lake Winnipeg.
As travelers head out, they will be bringing with them some of the new digital tools that record nature and wildlife in action, take away memories, and keep track of their progress in real-time. The new generation of iPhones are GPS- and camera-enabled, allowing you to use an iPhone to take video, still photos, and map your progress using GPS all with one device. These devices work anywhere that there is WiFi or cell coverage, which is pretty much most of southern Manitoba. I’ve just picked up a new high definition video camera that takes still pictures and outstanding video, and what’s been a real surprise is that the sound quality from the camera’s microphone is also very good. In my books, video is going to become a premiere way for us to tell some of the stories and capture our experiences in these unique Manitoba places. The ability to upload photos, videos, and audio to the web using a variety of friendly, template-driven tools is becoming so easy. Together, we can all help to put Manitoba on the global map by sharing some of our Manitoba experiences.
I love today’s technology and what it can do for me. Yes, I use Twitter, have my own blog, my own website, and contribute regularly to other blogs, produce podcasts and videos to upload. However, I also know how important it is to put those tools aside when I want to just enjoy an experience - like sitting by a beaver pond in the evening, marveling at the fact that we live in a province with an abundance of clean water, open spaces, rural communities, and places where we can slow down...and enjoy being in the moment. Arriving at these moments is what we need for our own internal peace and happiness. This does not need to be shared as a "tweet," a Facebook entry, or a Picasa photo - it can be yours and yours alone (or with a friend), intensely and sweetly from spring in Manitoba!
I invite you to find every possible way to enjoy the outdoors this spring - by cycling, kayaking, canoeing, or just watching birds while you take a morning or evening spring walk. For me, spring has definitely arrived when two of my senses are engaged in deep memory - taste and hearing. For my taste memory, it’s stinging nettles. These delightful, nutritious plants grow in moist areas, and the spring leaves are full of calcium and iron. Sautée them with mushrooms or onions, and serve it all up with good grass-fed Manitoba beef. Delicious... time for that BBQ in the backyard! For my sound memory of spring outings, one stands out as a clear "sound of spring" arrival - I love going for an evening walk with my wife in the country near my home at Onanole - close to Riding Mountain National Park - and hearing the unmistakable downward tremolo of hermit thrushes. If you want to a sneak preview, enter "hermit thrush" in Google for several examples to listen to online.
So carpool or bicycle to one of Manitoba’s unique geographical places, and tuck in for a spring getaway to soak in the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feeling of spring of the vf Manitoba outdoors!