Friday, June 24, 2011

Kipling's Flooded Marsh Brings Back Memories

A little while back I ran into my good friend Brian Tennant and he invited me to join him on an adventure similar to Huck Finn and Old Jim’s ride down the Mississippi River but our adventure would be on Lake Kipling or as many locals refer to it: The Marsh. Our raft would be the Tennant’s pontoon boat, on which Brian had mounted a sail, and our Mississippi would be The Marsh. This was going to give a whole new meaning to the term Prairie Schooner.
Anybody with any history around the Kipling area would be familiar with The Marsh and I would venture a guess that not many of them would have had a chance to see a sailboat on it.
Today, if you Google “The Kipling Marsh” it shows an aerial view of a dry pumped-out marsh which is far from the unbelievable never-before-seen water levels that it’s at this year. Prior to the mid 1970’s, when The Marsh’s landowners started to pump the water out, there was a fair amount of water in it but, again, nothing like it is today.
Back in my high school days of the early 1970’s I recall my friends and I spending a lot of time engaged in activities around or near The Marsh. It was usually around this time of year when we’d go for a swim in the dugout, just north of Lawrysn’s and almost at The Marsh, to cool off on a hot June day. Some of the participants even went sans all clothing, but not Reverend Hubbard’s boy, though. Nope, not me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Many of us would often walk the two + mile stretch of grid road out to the old Voroney farm, currently Kevin Puffalt’s, to visit the Voroney’s teenage kids Audrey and Robert, all the while singing American Pie, or something, at the top of our lungs to ward off the evil spirits lurking in the muddy waters of The Marsh. Walking back in to Kipling at night was always interesting, too, as you could often see the yellow eyes of some sort of wildlife creature off the road and the marsh flares would give off a very eerie greenish-blue glow over the cattails and reeds. I’m told there’s over seven feet of water on top of that grid road right now.
Once we had a cold snap in the early part of October and the marsh froze solid without any snowfall. We skated and skated on that ice for hours and never crossed the same path twice.
Back in the day, Kipling was a great destination for duck and goose hunters as there were thousands of the migrating birds out on The Marsh. My avid hunter friends would have a heyday out there, too. Of course every prairie boy worth his salt had a .22 rifle and we’d go out shooting muskrats or mud hens.
The current water levels are dire to the landowners as one farmer told me he has two full sections of his land under water. The threat of flooding to the town of Kipling is real and scary if that water is not pumped away before next spring or if we get a few inches of rain in one downpour like they recently experienced in the Weyburn area but it’s also kind of neat, to have a lake so close to town. Maybe “someone or they” should buy up the property and turn it into a resort. It’s just a thought. Maybe I enjoyed that sailboat ride a little too much.
"We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft."
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.

Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbar@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.

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