I had never been to the Cariboo, although Denis had in the younger days, desert racing. All I knew is that I wanted to go there. Mostly because of a poem - The Cariboo Horses. Largely because of the images
Al Purdy creates about the world he experienced there in the early 1960's.
Words like these:
" At 100 Mile House the cowboys ride in rolling
stagey cigarettes with one hand reining
half-tame bronco rebels on a morning grey as stone....."
"But only horses
waiting in stables
hitched at taverns
standing at dawn
pastured outside the town with
jeeps and fords and chevys and
busy muttering stake trucks rushing
importantly over roads of man's devising..."
"On the high prairie
are only horse and rider
wind in dry grass
clopping in silence under the tall mountains
dropping sometimes and
lost in the high grass
golden apples of dung...."
Between these pictures, Al takes the reader back to the wild history of these domestic beasts, to their genetic memory - the last Quagga, Egyptian Kiangs, Asian Onagers. Back and forth. As he does.
I expected the Cariboo to be the same landscape as the Shuswap, dry sagebrush country, but above Clinton, the hills became more forested and the country...different. For Denis, surprise at more prosperous and polished towns and cities, outward-looking, with good services for travellers, visitor reception centres.
If I were a poet....
|100 Mile House is billed as the Handcrafted Log Home|
Capital of North American
|105 Mile House Historic Ranch|
|Cariboo wedding venue|
|Chasm Provincial Park|
P.S. After careful research I regret to inform the reader that as of August 2013, the domestic pickup has replaced the horse (whatever its lineage) at the hitching rails of the Cariboo.