By Eric Freeze
Featured Art: (Autumn Mountain Landscape) by unknown
The gas station where I work is a 7-11 that sells Slurpees even in the middle of January, which, if you don’t know Crowsnest, can be cold, sixty below Celsius with a wind chill. We have customers all day, and we’re open twenty-four hours, and the night till carries only fifty dollars as a policy, although I’ve never had occasion to suspect we needed caution much. Past midnight, the only people passing through are truckers and skiers, and sometimes Benny the Indian comes in for a plug of Chattanooga Chew. Benny goes to the Mormon church in town because they will pay his rent if he says he’ll stop smoking. He hangs around the pop machine and fills a small Gulp with ice that he sucks on with his mouth open until we tell him to find some money or get out.
Put Crowsnest Pass anywhere urban, Vancouver or Toronto, or even Calgary, for that matter, and what you have is a four-lane road, a freeway, but without the traffic. Here it’s just a road for hikers or skiers or loggers to make their way up into the mountains. My station is past Frank Slide, near Blairmore, just after the limestone boulders that cover the valley, at the mouth of the Pass. I work regular hours during the winter and then take off time during the summer to volunteer at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, where I tell folks, kids or senior citizens mostly, about when Turtle Mountain shed its limestone face and crushed the min- ing community of Frank below. In the winter, the centre is closed, and the boulders are covered with snow, and the valley looks like a huge, lumpy blanket. Only on the side of the road where the plow trucks spray salt as they pass can you see the boulders underneath.