The first time I saw anyone buy water was when a group of visitors from Germany arrived on my door step.
Back then, my place was known as a safe house for international visitors. Of course none of these people knew the neighbourhood was Riversdale and it was known for non-stop police sirens at the time.
I moved into Riversdale when the neighbourhood was known for what doesn’t exist today. This past summer I went back to my old neighbourhood and it’s a totally different place. This is something people who lived in Riversdale always knew was possible.
I’ve lived in other cities and nowhere did I come across as many people willing to make a change than in that area of Saskatoon.
One thing the people from Germany pointed out was the amount of open space that wasn’t being used for gardens. Apparently, in their area of Germany, any open space is used for gardening, even on flat roof tops.
The other thing they pointed out was the clear blue skies. Where they were from, the sky is apparently grey with pollution and hardly ever blue.
“Here, it looks like those puffy white clouds on The Simpsons,” one said.
I wondered what it would be like to live in world where the sun hardly shines and the clouds are constantly dropping a mist of rain. Of course, one can say that for most of Canada’s West Coast, but at least there are periods of sun.
The other thing that blew them away was the northern lights. I told them I can make the northern lights dance. Of course, they didn’t believe me, so I went inside my place to get my hand drum and waited for just the right moment.
When it got dark enough and I could see the northern lights start to form, I started to sing with my hand drum. Slowly, the northern lights appeared to come together and started what appeared to be dancing around a fire, like they were doing the round dance.
My German friends were amazed. These were mostly university students who went back home to tell the story of how an Indian from Saskatoon made the night skies dance.
Back then, I had never seen or even heard of anyone buying bottled water. I knew some farmers and cabin owners had their water hauled in, but to actually go into a store and buy a bottle of water was new to me.
The young German visitors went everywhere with a bottle of water. I pointed this out to their group leader, and he told me that, despite their environmental concerns, where they are from, clean water is scarce.
Another thing I noticed is they didn’t use plastic shopping bags.
I took them to Superstore and everything they bought they carried out by hand. They spent hundreds of dollars on groceries, and every item was carried out and put into the trunk of my car. That’s the way it’s done in their part of the world.
My friends taught me many things. Sadly, though, it’s not uncommon to see me with a bottle of water.