Coronach, is down near the American Border, south-central Saskatchewan. It's rolling-hill grassland that gives way to badlands they call The Big Muddy. It was part of the old highway, for crooks, cattle thieves and Indians crossing the Medicine Line. Stories told of Butch Cassidy and his gang, American wolfhunters , Civil War deserters, card sharks from Tombstone, whiskey traders and Sitting Bull. They could hide out, hole up and avoid a hangin' rope that waited for them if they went back home. It's not postcard pretty, some parts are like a moonscape and at night the wind buffets you as though you're not wanted and had better get on home. People went into the Muddy but didn't always come out.
Soft coal lies buried just below a layer of hard prairie clay, probably first dug up by a horse-drawn plow, now by monstrous electric drag-lines. Then it's burned to make steam for electric power.
In 1982, Coronach had one bar, maybe two, a few hotels and a drugstore-liquorstore-postoffice. We were building the new dragline and we lived in camp, in rows of Atco trailers clustered around the power station.
The camp food was good and most nights half the crew would head from camp into Coronach, a mile away, after supper for a drink or two. Summer was hot, dry and dusty and the wind always blew. Winter was murderously cold and the wind always blew. For over a year, I drove south through Moose Jaw along the Crane Valley Road to Coronach. Every Sunday afternoon and every Friday night, back home.
If we had a Welding Foreman, I can't remember, but the new one came along eventually. He was decent to everyone on the crew and I got along well with him. Gord - had quite drinking, said he was AA and I didn't drink much. The few that did were loud and stupid and likely to get a person killed, beat-up or thrown in jail. Sometimes we'd catch supper at the Onliest Chinese Restaurant For A Hundred Miles Around, just for a change and a bad cup of coffee.
Grid roads will get you anywhere, sometimes just lost. We'd pick a direction and a road and go explore the hills and the gullies. Under the seat of the truck, Gord kept his 30/30 and if the chance came up, he wasn't opposed to doing a little poaching. We saw lots of deer, but that perfect chance never came up. I always wondered how you'd skin and dress a deer in a construction camp, but I'm more than sure it wouldn't have been the first.
Gord had been talking to one of the local hunters about sighting in his rifle and they had suggested we try the gun range out west of town. There was still lots of light so we headed out after supper. The directions were a little dodgy, west a few miles, off the road, through a field gate, up over a rise and then to a field cornerpost where we would park the truck and walk in the last 1/2 mile or so. We got to the field post and parked but it seemed like a better idea to check out the range first, so we left the rifle and started walking.
I have always been a rock-hound. I walk along looking down for interesting rocks and fossils whenever I can. Coronach had more petrified wood laying about than I'd ever seen, My pockets were always loaded down, full after even a short walk. Rock piles in farmer's fields are always worth a second look and we had passed two along the way. The last half-mile was uphill and the rise took us to where we could look out over fields of thick green barley, our dark, lengthening shadows stretching far across the fields toward distant hills. Gord's shadow, anyways. His arms, legs and head, dark and clear against the field. Reaching towards me from the far off hills, down to where my shoulders' shadow lay was a brilliant gold beam of light.
My arms and my head threw no shadow, just yellow light. I said to Gord " Can you see that ? Am I imagining this ? My head and arms have no shadow !". I unbuttoned my shirt and slid it off. My shadow now was there on the field but only from my waist down. My hair felt like it was standing on end and I kept yelling at Gord :"Do you really see that ? Where the hell is my shadow and what is that light ?".
I could move away from him, squat down and wave my arms but that yellow beam stayed there, burning away my shadow from the waist up. Gord spooked after about five minutes of this and literally ran the last few hundred yards to the point of the hill, even though he'd been out of breath. I played with the beam, my shirt and the lost parts of my shadow and then slowly walked up the last stretch without taking my eyes off the field below. As I reached the top the sun dipped below the hills and just beyond the visible point of the ridge, we stood looking down into a hollow. About the size of a football field, it was about 10 feet deep, sunken into the top of a plateau in the hills.
When you spoke, there was an echo and every sound was amplified. Sometimes you just know that you're standing on sacred ground. It was a natural amphitheater, short grass carpeted the ground, here and there patches of chalk white clay. In three places were openings through the shoulder-high banks where rainfall and snowmelt had cut run-off channels.
Later on that week, back in town, we had asked about the place, if it had been dug out by locals. As far as anyone knew, it had always been there, it wasn't dug out, it was just there.
We walked the length of it before climbing through a channel to watch a last stretch of sunlight coming through the hills, looking out over twisted gulleys, washouts and hoodoos. The Badlands. I wondered how long this had been a meeting place, what people had come here, the languages they spoke and the stories they told. No birds flew overhead, the only sound, a gentle humming. It was getting dark faster now; the sun was gone, we headed down from the plateau to the truck and back to camp.
Gord didn't want to talk about what had happened on the way back and he got angry as hell when I asked him. But he told me about the beam and the shadows and the barley one last time. His final words were, "Don't you bring this creepy shit up ever again ya hear me ? I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS !". If I have pushed any more it would have gotten nasty, so I shutup, the rest of the trip was in silence. I'm guessin' too, had I dropped my pants to see if ALL my shadow disappeared, I might've been walking back to town that night.
I told this Coronach story one day, on a long drive with my daughter Kate. After a while, she drifted off to sleep and later woke just around sundown. She was gazing off into the field and then she said softly " Hey Dad ? Guess what ? We've got company. ".
Thanks for sharing ... i love the bit about the indians , the small canadian border town, the open wild countryside ... just the kind of thing that i dreamed of as a child, i imagined hunting wolves in the deep snow.
As for your question, the word corona means aureole or a white or colored circle of light seen around a luminous body, especially around the sun or moon, wiki states "a corona is a type of plasma atmosphere of the sun ... " so the region has a name that corresponds to your experience ... all this suggests that you are very sensitive to subtle energies, in your experience the sun seemed to shine through you which can be interpreted as being a sign that you have a very clear channel ... i agree with what Roy says "You have a wonderful gift" enjoy it :)
answered 21 Jan '13, 06:28
@windhook-Great Story! If you are interested in this, you might like my story about how my Spirit Guide proved he was real. Here is the link. I really liked your story. Grandfather weeps Great Tears about the destruction of America by the white man. He said many Holy Places are now gone- just when we are evolving to the point where we want to visit them! Thanks for the great read.
To answer your question- It was Holy Ground. Pure and Simple.
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