I used to be confused by the existence of Mitchell. It’s awfully close to Steinbach, separated by just two short miles — a distance that’s shrinking all the time as the communities grow toward each other.
But Mitchell has its own community vibe. When friends moved to Mitchell, I asked them if they were going to attend the Steinbach Pick Up and Walk event that spring. They said pointedly, “We live in Mitchell now.” Oh yes of course, I replied, feeling stupid for even asking that question. It hadn’t really occurred to me that Mitchell had their own thing going on.
Anyway! On June 2nd I spent many hours walking around Mitchell. I wanted to give it the same photographic treatment that I give Steinbach on much more frequent occasions.
It was an overly bright day so all my pictures are terrible and that is unfortunate. Anyway, while I walked, I discovered this circle park!
I investigated, and saw many plaques.
First I noticed the benches. Each has its own plaque, in loving memory of: Ron Unger, John D. and Agnes Kornelson, Alfred and Agnes Stahn, Mary Kehler, Dick Penner, Bernie Stahn, and Peter Penner. I recognize many of these names as being people who were important to those living in the community of Mitchell. They have contributed, they’re loved, and recognized.
In the middle is sort of rock garden with an evergreen which has a plaque that says “Penner Family Tree – in memory of our Brother and Uncle Dick – April 28, 2018”.
I wandered away from the park, past the tennis court, and the next thing I knew, I was walking past my grandparent’s former home.
I still know which one was theirs because my grandma loved gardening… so she tore up all the sod in front of her place, from wall to walkway, and planted it full of flowers. I think she got in trouble with the condo people, however what was done was done… and it remains a flower bed to this day and I love that this reminds me of my grandma’s Mitchell years.
I had grown up on the dairy farm with my grandparents living on the same yard, and it always gave a great feeling of safety and connectedness. I think my grandparents may have left the farm in the late 90s, perhaps when I was living in Saskatchewan, because I don’t actually remember the move. I just remember coming home for a visit and finding things changed. I remember visiting them on my own, when they lived here. I felt independent, no longer a child. I mean, I had my own car, hello. Behind these condo-apartments, I remember grandma taking a picture of me, proudly leaning against my ’83 Ford Escort.
Later I read her diaries and learned just how much time she spent walking around Mitchell. She regularly walked miles and miles, wearing her trusty white running shoes and homemade dresses. She made many dear friends in this way. I imagine she got to know these people by complimenting their flowers while they were tending their yards.
In my walks, I find myself seeking ways in which wildness continues to flourish in our communities, ways in which our rural location persistently shines through, despite aggressive development, and the desire-paths that are created by locals. I think I found both these things… but I also think there is still much more to be discovered in this community.