Traveling by car thousands of miles through Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, the author revisits the land of his youth. Abley has caught not only the eerie vastness of the prairie but the pulse of its people, in a meld of nature writing and alert sociology. At its best it captures the pathos of long-ago days. There are the polyglot echoes of the French, Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Mennonites and Scotch-Irish who fought the land and the indigenous Indians and MÃ‰tis, or half-breeds, who live like ghosts where their forebears ruled. The people today remain colorful, their lives hard. Some linger on in semi-deserted boom towns, their days an unending struggle with the harsh land, their sagas touched with a strange and beautiful loneliness. Along the way, there are surprising encounters and interesting characters--workers, naturalists and survivors. Always, as they move in the vastness that is the prairie, the relentlessness of nature defines and limits their world. Abley makes no attempt to dramatize or exaggerate, content to let the land and its people tell their own stories in their own tempos and rhythms. Pioneers came to build homes and communities, preserve their customs and language--and some have won. Those who lost and moved on left their empty homes with peeling wallpaper, deserted churches and the dolmens of the prairie--rock piles left by the farmers who cleared the land. A trenchant, observant and haunting book about a journey to the scenes of a bygone day in a harsh yet beautiful land.