When the sun called…

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as the autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.” — Nathaniel Hawthorne


“There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of the wind.” — Annie Dillard

Winter arrived just before Halloween in Manitoba this year. But in 2016, fall lingered long into November before giving way to the cold and snow. Photo memories  of November 26th took me back to that incredibly gorgeous day when the sun called.

Cloud-cover had reigned for over a week and I was in sunshine withdrawal. So as I sat having my Saturday morning coffee, watching the sky brighten to the east through the trees, I knew my plans for the day would change. Even my second cup of coffee would have to wait.

I didn’t hesitate to set aside my long ‘to-do’ list. The dog and I headed out into the crisp, quiet morning air and walked to the end of our lane to catch those first beautiful rays of sun. This day was meant to be embraced and enjoyed — outside, not in the house.

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” – John Keats

 

As we strolled though the yard, I was reminded why I am always reluctant to pull out my flowers once they are past their prime. Their beauty evolves with an elegant melancholy as the growing season draws to an end.

 

Everything glistened and seemed to come to life as the morning sun glinted off the light dusting of frost which had ‘painted’ the landscape overnight.

 

But as the temperature rose, the frost dissipated. The winds were calm and the sky oh so blue! Country roads were calling and I wasn’t about to decline the offer of taking in the beauty right out my backdoor.

 

Willow branches were vibrant against the bright blue sky.

Wild rosehips added a punch of colour in the ditches.

Nature’s art is everywhere! A milkweed seed-head looking rather duck-like!

Who doesn’t love a lone tree in the middle of the prairie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lone Hawthorne tree on the edge of our old cattle pasture. Can you tell the prevailing winds are from the west? And is it just me or does the outline of the branches appear to form a heart?

‘Hay’, check out that sky!

My trusty side-kick, game to wander through the old pasture.

Sunset through the trees along our lane.

That sunny Saturday ended up being our final farewell to fall last year.  A balmy, unseasonal +8 Celsius day that ended as striking and beautiful as it started.  A day I’m grateful I stopped to enjoy.  A day which reminds me to always listen when the sun calls…

 

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Outdoor Treadmill

Outdoor Treadmill

No fees, set hours, restraints on time — 
my outdoor treadmill suits me fine .  

Prairie snow provides vast retreat,
 with snowshoes strapped beneath my feet.

Crunching of snow the only sound
as I walk atop frozen ground.

Crisp, cold air upon my face
heightens senses, worries – erased.

Bright sun reflecting on the snow
gives icy crystals sparkling glow.

Deer, rabbits, fox may happen by,  
or owl glide across the sky.

All of  this,  just out my door –
nature’s gym, yet so much more…

Grateful to have waiting for me,
such splendor and tranquility.

 

Sandi Knight
© 2017

Agvocating through art

Originally published in the July 13, 2017  issue of the Manitoba Cooperator


As farmers we don’t often have the opportunity to celebrate and showcase the crops we grow. So, when the opportunity arises, why not take it?

Earlier this year, our local arts centre asked for exhibit ideas for their boardroom gallery. Considering 2017 is canola’s 50th anniversary, I suggested a display of pictures, products and facts to celebrate. It was built around a blog post from last July entitled, Simply Canola, and inspired by the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa. The museum is commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday and Canola’s 50th anniversary with a nation-wide travelling exhibition, “Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation” as well as an on-site exhibit, “Canola! Seeds of Innovation.”

Leanne Campbell photo

By far, canola is one of the most recognized crops we grow. There is no doubt it is the shining star of agriculture across western Canada every summer when it blooms. It isn’t unusual to see people stopping alongside the road to snap a picture, or take a ‘selfie’ against its gorgeous sea of yellow. Even those of us who grow it, are taken in by the allure of those bright and beautiful blossoms. Case in point – my extensive collection of photos from 2016.

With less than two percent of Canadians living on farms, there is a huge disconnect between food producers and consumers. Surveys show consumers want to learn more. We’ve been advised to tell our story, our way. So why not tell it through art? Especially when you can celebrate a crop many people are familiar with on a visual level.

Simply Canola is a pictorial diary of the canola we grew on our farm last year. Twenty-six photos, displayed in date order, give a tour from emergence to harvest, from close-ups to landscapes to sunsets. I’m hoping they convey the pride we take in growing this iconic prairie crop. A display case with canola, a sample of products made from it and bright yellow note cards with canola facts add an element of education to the display.

Jennifer Dyck photo

Canola is so much more than a pretty backdrop on the prairie landscape under the summer sun. The impact it has had in Canada and around the world in just 50 years is astounding. As the world’s only “Made in Canada” crop, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to agvocate and celebrate it with my photography in our local community. To date feedback has been positive and encouraging, both from consumers and those in the ag industry.

If you are in Portage la Prairie, please stop by and enjoy our farm’s views and vistas of Simply Canola. The exhibit is on display at the Portage and Districts Centre (11 2 St NE, Portage la Prairie, MB) from June 20th – August 5th in the Boardroom.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00am to 5:00pm     Click here for directions.      (Note: Boardroom Gallery closed Wednesdays 12:30pm-3:30pm)  


Comments on “Simply Canola” 

“Who knew? Well done!”

“Beautiful, picturesque and educational.”

“Thank you – for this great contribution to the industry.”

“Excellent way to capture beauty and education.”

“I learned so much about canola!”

“Beautiful memories of home.”

“Lovely…and educational.”

Fall Silhouette

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Fall Silhouette 

Stark against blue prairie sky
a threadbare tree stands out.
A few dogged leaves hold fast
unwilling to give way to winter.
 They remain united with branches,
 creating striking fall silhouette.

Sandi Knight
© 2005

From My Corner of the Prairies – Canada In A Day

September 10, 2016 was Canada In A Day. We were asked to film our lives — whether it be a special occasion or a simple moment. The resulting video compilation will be used to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday next July.

Instead of a film, my story is one of pictures, reflections and simple gratitude for being a Canadian who has the privilege of living and farming on the vast and beautiful prairies.

Life is made great by the million little things that piece together our days and weave into their way into the tapestry of our lives.

Here are the pieces which made #CanadaInADay special to me.

Waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, pouring a cup and enjoying this view.

 

Wandering through my yard, taking time to notice the little things, like the bees enjoying my sunflowers.

Wandering through my yard, taking time to notice the little things, like bees on the towering sunflowers in my garden. 

 

 

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The satisfying job of chopping garden-fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery, followed by aroma of simmering salsa wafting through the kitchen .

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Listening to the consistent ‘snapping’ on the jars of the finished product, knowing they are properly sealed and preserved for the months ahead.

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Having the combine come out of the shed to finally resume harvest after a week of rainy weather.

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Enjoying the delicious, fresh, crisp crunch of a B.C. Honey Crisp apple for a snack.

 

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A leisurely afternoon walk with our dog.  She stopped briefly by this freshly cultivated wheat field.  We work the straw into the soil to improve organic matter and soil health. 

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“Pure joy! ” Watching my  trusty side-kick , having a blast running through a wheat field. Here the straw has been baled to be used as bedding for cattle this winter.

 

 

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Appreciating that I can walk for miles on quiet country back roads without seeing a soul.  It doesn’t  necessarily mean my presence isn’t noticed though…The dog and I obviously piqued the interest of the neighbour’s cattle!

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Seeing these hives is a reminder that a delivery of fresh honey will soon arrive at our door.  A fellow farmer keeps bees in the shelter of an old yard-site on our farmland. The bees love the canola and alfalfa we grow, and we love the honey they produce!

 

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Walking to the marsh that borders part of our farm and capturing the beauty of the bulrushes and wildflowers blowing in the wind.  The marsh provides a unique and diverse ecosystem for a wide variety of plants, animals and birds.

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Riding alongside my husband in the combine, enjoying his company and the view as he harvests a field of canola.

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Taste-testing the fresh-made salsa for an appetizer. So good!

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Watching this bald eagle overlook the field we were harvesting. They aren’t usually this close to our yard, but hunting was easy as rodents scurried away as the canola swaths were picked up.

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Being thankful for a south wind that kept the moisture at bay as clouds rolled in later in the day.  Once the grass is wet with dew in the evening, it often makes the crops too ‘tough’ to harvest. Here the combine is unloading canola onto a grain truck so it can be hauled to our farmyard and put in a storage bin.

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Taking the time to savour this view at the end of our farmyard as the sun set. The end my tribute to #CanadaInAday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply Canola

There is no denying  canola has been the shining star of agriculture across western Canada this past month — as it is every summer when in bloom.  It isn’t unusual to see people stopping alongside the road to snap a picture, or take a selfie against the gorgeous sea of yellow this crop provides. 

Even those of us who grow it, are taken in by the allure of those bright and beautiful blossoms and have been know to take a picture, or two, perhaps more… I’ll admit I may have gotten carried away this year, but the opportunity was irresistible and right out my backdoor. 

We are proud to be one of the over 43,000 Canadian farmers producing this heart-healthy, versatile, edible oil. These are a few of my favourite shots taken on our farm from June 22nd to July 18th. I hope you enjoy my 2016 canola pictorial diary.  

*Click on the pictures for additional description and information.  

Why?

“Stop this! I just want to live in peace…” 

Her plea has echoed in my mind all week,  a woman interviewed in Baghdad after the worst single car-bomb attack in 13 years.  This poem is for her, those in Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas and all others throughout the world who want the violence to end.

Why?

Suicide bombs, murder, unprecedented violence,
hatred and rage I don’t understand.
Apprehension, upheaval, crisis,
so many live in fear…

Yet in my backyard,
songbirds twitter happily,
butterflies flit amongst flowers,
I sip coffee in peaceful, serene setting.

In my world,
on tranquil evening,
I stroll down country road,
witness stunning prairie sunset.
Why am I so blessed while others suffer?

Sandi Knight
© 2016

Out my backdoor

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.”  ~ William Arthur Ward


You never know when actions will lead to opportunity.  This past March I found myself preparing for a photo exhibit.  When asked how long I’d been planning I replied, “I hadn’t.” It had never been a goal, ambition or something I’d ever remotely imagined doing.

But a simple “Challenge on Nature Photography” invitation — seven nature-themed photos in seven days — on Facebook in January opened a door.  Friends and family responded positively to the images I posted and persuaded me to “get busy framing” and show my work.  Even though it was in a small boardroom gallery, the thought was daunting, but I knew I would regret not taking advantage of the experience.

PosterThose who encouraged me lent a helping hand and “Out my backdoor” was soon on display.  The photographs shown can be seen here.  All twenty-five images are unedited and were taken within a mile radius of our home with a simple point-and-shoot camera.

The positive feedback and appreciation was overwhelming. My initial nervousness was soon replaced by gratitude for the chance to share my view of the prairies.  Someone commented, “You see what we may miss.”

Sun, moon and sky wall

When I head out for walks with my camera, I do so because I truly enjoy capturing images and moments in time, whether bright and bold, or small and subtle. No matter the season, every day offers something to make me pause and appreciate my surroundings.

Flowers and plants

After living on the farm for almost 28 years, perhaps I take my vantage point for granted. I didn’t realize so many others would enjoy “seeing through my lens”.

As a bonus to the whole experience, almost half the pictures sold. It is rather humbling to know my work will be hanging in new homes. Previous to the exhibit, I had never framed my photos, only shared them on social media — a trend that will now change.

I am grateful I pushed past my initial fear and trepidation, didn’t wait and let this opportunity pass. It was thoroughly enjoyable sharing the view ‘out my backdoor‘.  Now to ponder the question, “What’s next?”

2016 Photo Exhibit

“Out my backdoor”

 Portage & District Arts Centre Boardroom Gallery Photo Exhibit 2016

l truly enjoy capturing images and moments in time, whether bright and bold, or small and subtle. No matter the season, every day offers something to make me pause and appreciate my surroundings. 

These unedited images were taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera.  Mother Nature provides the settings – all I have to do is be in the right place, at the right time. I like to share exactly what I see when I look through the lens. 

*Click on the pictures for additional description.  

 

 


See a picture you like?  8×10 prints are available $40 CDN.  Fill out the form below. We’ll send an invoice to the email you provide. Once payment is received via PayPal or credit card, your prints will be shipped.  ($5 shipping charge anywhere in North America.)

An unassuming evening

I love where we live.  The prairie landscape is captivating and ever-changing. It isn’t perfect, but does offer many moments of perfection. The best ones are those which catch us off guard – the ones we don’t expect when conditions, as we perceive them, are less than ideal.

Last Tuesday had been relatively mild for the end of February in Manitoba. I was looking forward to a beautiful evening walk, but by late afternoon, the temperature dropped significantly.  An uncharacteristic fog rolled in as the sun began to set.

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Somewhat disappointed with change in conditions, I headed out with the dog  to take advantage of those last few lingering moments of  daylight.  As we walked along our quiet rural  road, the stillness of the evening engulfed us.    

The only sounds were my boots crunching in the snow, the tags on the dog’s collar lightly jingling as she trotted along, and an owl softly calling out in the distance. There wasn’t a breath of wind, no traffic in the distance, no planes flying overhead. It was if there were no one else in the world but us.

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Some might have found it eerily quiet but the stillness was beautiful, calming, peaceful. Ribbons of fog wove their way across the frozen, snow-covered fields and over the road. As daylight dwindled, a canopy of stars appeared above and the snow moon began to rise in the east.

It was a serene, unassuming evening, the kind you don’t want to end. One you would like to be able to bottle and share, so everyone could experience a touch of peaceful prairie perfection.