Day 675: Onefour What For

Breakfast was over and Sophie’s husband had gone off to work, but Emma’s school was on break, so she was home. Although it is a bit irregular for tour leaders to take their children with them on tours, Sophie decided to do it. Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours are free, so was unlikely that anyone on the tour would ask for their money back. Sophie and Emma sat on the sofa in their living room in Alberta. Sophie described the Emerald Victorian in some detail for Emma. Then both closed their eyes, and a few moments later they were standing on its front porch. In the kitchen was a packet of hot chocolate mix in addition to the usual packet of coffee beans. Soon both were sitting in the library with their respective drinks. Emma found a copy of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows to read while Sophie planned the day’s tour.

Sophie’s group spent the morning in the Historic District of Medicine Hat and then headed south to Onefour. The rural post was given its less-than-inventive name because of its location of Township 1, Range 4. Though not much remains of the postal grouping, its name lives on in the Onefour Livestock Substation of the Lethbridge Research Station, which is dedicated to grain research for bovine consumption. Near the research station campus is the Onefour Heritage Rangeland, where Sophie, Emma, and the tour participants spent most of the day hiking and nature viewing.

City folk sometimes view the prairie as desolate, but this area contains extensive wetlands, badlands, grasslands, marshlands, springs, and streams. Among its abundant population of wildlife are rare species, such as the loggerhead shrike, the burrowing owl, and the mountain plover. There aren’t many towns in the area, so in the afternoon they stopped at the research station before returning to Medicine Hat.

The research station employees graciously served the adults tea or coffee, made hot chocolate for Emma, and spun yarns about research station life. One of the best was about a new employee named Sue and an infamous steer, named Houdini because he had a way of escaping. Frustrated during one of his escape attempts, Sue leaped on a horse, caught up with Houdini, and wrestled him to the ground. It turned out that as a young woman she was a steer wrestler who regularly competed in rodeos around the area, including the Calgary Stampede.

Back in Medicine Hat, Sophie delivered her group to their hotel. They would all meet for dinner later at a steakhouse. It wasn’t likely to have much for children, so Sophie took Emma to a malt shop. She didn’t need to go to a bar to pick up local gossip. She already had a limerick.

To this day it is strong local lore
That a gal named Sue settled a score
When she and a steer
Engaged without fear
In the place that is known as Onefour.