It Rained at Harvest Time: Memoirs of the Forever Prairie

It Rained at Harvest Time: Memoirs of the Forever Prairie


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What was it like growing up on the Canadian prairie 100 years ago? In a charming conversational manner, Reta Evens Simons gives vivid and often amusing details of her hard life as a pioneer’s daughter on a wheat farm out west, far from almost anywhere. Including both words and illustrations, her memoirs combine personal experience with descriptions of her times and place that make history come to life. It Rained at Harvest Time balances between Reta's childhood point of view and her perspective as the adult author looking back with critical distance. She documents technological advances that transformed farming. She also provides a lyrical portrait of the “forever prairie” itself.

It was a place where lassoing gophers could be entertainment, where canned tomatoes made a special dessert, where indoor plumbing was beyond imagining, and a caravan of Gypsies showed up to run carnival games at the town fair.

Most days, after milking the cows, she herded a passel of younger siblings to and from school. (One morning their pet badger came too). Mom fixed and fed babies at home. Dad worked the vast wheat fields and knitted their socks and hats on a strange contraption.

Reta describes carefree moments spent picking wild roses, but also tells of the time she was a panicked little girl alone on a wagon full of wheat, reining in a team of horses, racing down a steep hill. Her words and sketches map out a landscape filled with colorful personalities of both the human and animal kind. She recounts their adventures and tragedies as well as her own journey of self-discovery.

These are true tales from a girl who never saw an umbrella 'til she was 14 years old. And because it rained one harvest day, her life changed forever.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780999267202
Publisher: Reask
Publication date: 11/01/2017
Pages: 284
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

Dr. S. Leigh Matthews is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. She reads, researches and publishes mainly in the areas of Life Writing and Canadian Literature and has published a book titled Looking Back: Canadian Women's Prairie Memoirs and Intersections of Culture, History, and Identity (University of Calgary Press, 2010).

Reta Evens, later Simons, grew up on the Western Canadian prairie nearly 100 years ago. In many ways the life she describes seems entirely different from what most of us experience today. In other ways, related to human nature and behavior, we are all too much the same. While conditions she describes were often difficult, Reta brings levity to the mix with her impromptu illustrations, sprinkled throughout the text. Originally, these sketches were rendered in ball point pen in the margins of her handwritten manuscript. Sketches from an art notes book she made for school are also included, art history class being one of the highlights of her early education.

This book deals with her childhood years. At the end of the eighth grade, there were no high schools on the prairie and she faced the rest of her life working on the farm. A combination of events, along with the fact that it happened to rain one harvest day, changed her life forever.

And this was just the beginning.

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