I celebrated my birthday a few days ago, birthdays tend to make me wistful. Gladly it was very uncharacteristically sunny. Chilly of course, but sunny. It has been a long lazy autumn with wonderful surprises- like a late October swim in Georgian Bay. Summer was a wash out and for another year I had blight that devoured my tomato crop. Despite the snow I have raspberries to pick and peppers to harvest. The leeks are still in the ground and the fish are in the pond.
The first heavy snow always seems to catch me by surprise and I am never prepared. Maybe that was one of the reasons I got tossed out of girl guides.
Winters on the farm are long and hard and they seem to take a little bit of with me each time. Last year I was stuck in the snow, of course I have sports car- locals just shake their heads and insist I should know better. No one will plough you out if you don’t have a paid up-front contract. Last year out of desparation I paid a local with a bulldozer to plough me out and he took out two lamps and dumped three loads of road rubble on my beloved perennial garden. I was reminded that a bulldozer is not a precision instrument.
Last spring the damage was apparent in the garden beds and I promised to be better prepared this winter. Here we are and no I am not – nor do I have enough wood.Procrastination forces me to make unfortunate last minute decisions.
This fall I started a class to learn Spanish- a third language for me. I also joined a local ukulele group that plays once a week and does concerts- yes it is hard to believe. My eldest daughter moaned when she heard the news that mom is playing,that first true sign of senility. I love it as I get to sing and play an instrument. I have truly missed having the music, the notes, rhythm and the discipline of music in my life.I love setting up my music stand and leafing through the music, and yes having my stand constantly collapse. I arrived on time for a recent concert but the group had already started – I notice that most people seem to be far more on time.than I ever was or am. In fact they arrive early! I am always tardy.Of course my stand collapsed over and over again, annoying all the other players.
I played music for years, the trombone, cello, violin and viola. I was of course forced into the piano, which I could never manage to get past “heart and soul” or “chopsticks”- I know I am in good company. I also sang in many choirs. I sang with my wonderful Aunt Polly who came to pick me up twice a week at a catholic Church,Holy Rosary in Toronto.
It turned out to be the church where all of our family funerals took place. It was not our Parish church, which doesn’t matter now but growing up it did. You were expected to always attend mass at your parish, and oh yes donate. My mother was shocked when I decided to sing at Rosedale United I was a catholic after all. I loved being able to walk a few blocks to the church. I enjoyed the more casual sermons and most of all I loved dressing up in a choir gown. One Sunday, one I will never forget, my aunt Cecil was in attendance and my skirt fell off as I was walking down the aisle with burning candle in hand. I had no idea what to do, I looked down pulled up my skirt the best that I could and kept a brave face.
The one instrument that I did best in was trombone- lots of great stories with the high school band. I would wear leopard gloves and seemed stocking of the wrong color that drove the bandleader wild.I refused to conform, but I could play well so he was stuck with me. I once fell backwards off the stage at a concert while trying to use my slide to get one of the other 6 trombonists to even sound a note. They all thought that they were fooling me by moving their slides up and down. They were sure I didn’t notice they weren’t even playing a note. When graduating from Jarvis Collegiate, after 5 years of participation in three instruments and 6 music groups ranging from Dixie land to quartet and everything in between,
I was denied the “Honour J” the tribute to musical excellence. I confronted the music teacher and asked him why, his response” you caused me lots of trouble”. If trouble meant I asked him to move me from the home I was billeted in on a band trip, due to sexual harassment, then I choose trouble. The nickname my father gave me, Bucky, was a good choice.
I have been going through a lifetime of memories and collections and organizing them. Well at least trying. I donated 20 contractor-sized bags of clothing to charities.I had arrived at a point where I couldn’t open the front closet. That just left too many places for mice to build condos. They seem to prefer my boots and pockets. I am sentimental over many things- especially since the loss of my parents and closest sister. I can’t seem to bring myself to through out anything associated with them.
I am looking forward to writing and learning how to paint- another lifelong dream. I do not have any faith that I will succeed in this artistic endeavour. Last year while in Colorado, I joined a Cocktails and Canvas group. Put it this way, I can’t blame the cocktail for my horrific paintings. I came across them hidden in a cupboard and I almost, just almost threw them out.
I already have the snowshoes out. I exchanged them for the bag of golf clubs that sat on my porch all summer, unused. The only time I went to the club was for an occasional Friday night roast beef dinners. I am looking forward to cross country skiing at the local Alpine club, despite the falls that I had last winter. I have promised to pick up my cross stitching and complete the flower tablecloth that I started a few years ago. To date, I have stitched one flower. What will be my biggest job is to try and stay warm over the next six months. I live in an 1895 farmhouse. Yes it has been renovated but there are plenty of places for wildlife to come and join me in the house. Each November I am assigned to being cold until the next May.
All winter long I feed the birds and wild turkeys, there are about 60 of them
that visit and spend much of their day here.The turkeys are the talk of the town and of the hunters. Speaking of hunters, the Bell man came to try and fix our internet( I was initially told to just move, there is not internet where you live,mam} asked if he could come and hunt our squirrels he said he loves to eat them. I came across bow hunters wearing whit hazmat suits at the back of my property late December. I had no idea you could hunt until the last day in December. I frequently hear guns and no one,. not the police or the mayor could confirm just what are the rules. I live in a city, I pay the taxes- which are ridiculous for almost no services, and yet you can fire a gun if it is for the sake of hunting. Oh yes, did you know that red squirrels, as a fur bearing animal are protected and can’t be hunted. I had one living in the house for months and no pest company would come to try and trap it. Life’s bitter ironies. After much damage to my kitchen floor and walls and after leaving numerous caches of food which included the top of my pecan and apple crumble pie, brie rind and steak bones, it found its end in my toilet. I am to this day finding more caches in the most unexpected places.
A sad but true fact is that while I always envied the worries and preoccupations of a farmer, I am not as pleased as I had imagined. You need to be a total farmer, whole hog to buy into it. I don’t have animals, a fisher killed my chickens and that put a stop to my animal husbandry. Horses and yes donkeys require some knowledge or expertise. People often casually say, “Get some horses “I tell them to go get some horses. While I wish I had a few pigs to eat up all my compost I could never bear to kill them. I would worry every winter day about the welfare of my animals.
I don’t even have a cat to catch the mice. The local vixen ate the few feral cats. My adorable kitty was also eaten; I came across her remains after worrying about her for months. I kept hoping she had just wandered off in search of whatever cats search for. No dogs as I have no fence on the property and I need to be able to contain the dog. What is a farm without a dog? A “Faux Farm” I suppose.
One thrill this summer was to have 14 hives put on my land. I was so excited and loved having the pollinators in my many gardens. I could not believe how much of a difference that they million plus honey bees made. I could hear the bees buzzing in my sleep. I only got stung once when I tried to rescue a drowning bee from my birdbath. It has been very rewarding to sell honey and to discover just hoe much people love pure local honey. The honey lover fits no profile whatsoever and I enjoy having people drop by to buy my honey and baked goods.
Weather will be my guide over the next 5 months and I have to adjust my days to mother nature. I do that willingly. Over the last 6 years the weather has changed and it has resulted in snow in September, high heat in April and all of the unpredictability has had both positive and negative impacts on the garden. There is always plenty of local weather gossip. This year the weather joke that was being passed around at TIGRE GÉANT is “that it only rained twice this summer; once for two months and the second for 3 months”. I can’t argue.
I am working on a memoir – I have an interesting story to tell.I am busy working on a Cake Book that will be published and available for Christmas 2017. I had no idea just how much work that it involves. Recipe testing and writing is a very onerous job. I am also working on my annual 2017-2018 Calendar, which will also be available.
I placed a Maple Walnut Apple cake in the oven as I sat down to write this update. The timer is calling, my cake is ready and a new day is here.