“What is so rare as a day in June, then if ever come perfect days?”,
Whether we look or whether we listen, We hear life murmur or see it glisten……. James Russell Lowell
Summer mornings on the farm were exquisite. Lawns lay green and velvety, perennial beds flowered in the flattering slant of sunshine from the east. Rose bushes climbed and periwinkle ( we called it myrtle) crept up the foundation on the east side of the house. Bird song filled the cool air.
School was nearly over. Wild strawberries hid in the verdant ditches along the gravel road, providing a tasty snack on the way home. There were buttercups and daisies among other wild flowers. After they started spraying the ditches, there were NO MORE. When does a wild flower or fruit become a dreaded weed. Where they not designed for the pleasure of small children trudging that mile and a quarter through the heat? Someone told me recently, about their European friends wanting to co ordinate their visit to Canada, when all those yellow flowers are blooming (dandelions). Does that not tell us a lot about what conditioning does to us?
The gardens were full of carrots, peas, beans, potatoes, onions, beets, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers on and on we could go. Everything in neat rows, and weed free, thanks to the in house staff. There were cherry trees tucked in between the smoke house and the spruce trees, for delicious sour cherry pies. ( one hardly sees anymore) Apples were forming on the orchard trees. Nearby were pear trees, raspberry canes
Strawberries were deep red and delicious, before they were bred for long distance travel, like today. Those strawberries only had to make it from the garden to the kitchen to top off Mom’s biscuits for strawberry shortcake, or mounded into pastry for a luscious pie. Some were preserved by canning for a delectable bowl in the middle of winter, and jam, of course. Later came raspberries to be picked, preserved, as well as plums.
At about this time of year, when peas were in full swing, Mom would dig a few tiny potatoes and wee carrots, and add then to the peas, in a smooth buttery white sauce. That is a wonderful way to eat, with a serving of beef, or chicken. How about a fresh lettuce salad dressed with cream, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sugar? Applesauce from summer apples was so delicious with bran muffins.This was typical of everyday meals. All from the farm, and oh so fresh and tasty.
We all had jobs to do, like weeding and thinning vegetables. As the summer holidays progressed, the picking of green beans, cucumbers kept me busy.
Some of our neighbors would bring their excess produce for Carl to take, every Thursday on his route along The Danforth and Queen st, supplying Greek, Chinese and Italian grocers with eggs, produce and New York dressed chickens. That evening, he would sit at his desk, filling small brown envelopes with cash for those neighbors and how proud I was when he had an envelope for me with my name written in his large scrawl, indicating how many baskets etc. Let me add, that money was turned back to him to put into the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Stouffville, talk about full circle. Money was to not to fritter away, but to invest.
Another highlight of summer was peach season. Dad would take his truck down to Niagara area, and load it up with the most juicy and tasty peaches that were ripe and ready to eat, and can. Neighbors from up and down the road would come and pick up their order and all the women went into peeling and filling jars to can the beauties.My Mom tried very hard to fill 100 quart jars, and what a lovely addition they were to our winter meals. That was just peaches, but there was plums and pears also and before the deep freezer, there was beans, beef, and chicken. Delicious!
Also sweet corn was grown in enough quantity to sell in Toronto, plus for our own consumption. I have pleasant memories of a mountain of freshly picked corn on the front yard, and it was “all hands on deck” to bag it in the dark, within the circle of that yard light, casting shadows. There seemed to be quite a collection of young men “helping” . Did it have anything to do with my pretty older sisters being there also.?
Everyone had a job to do on the farm, and we were aware of what it was, without being told. TRADITIONS are amazing. You can raise a family without having to tell them (let alone repeat your requests) what is expected of them.
Cows were milked, chickens were fed, eggs were gathered( one of my tasks) beside all the gardening and tending the new crops.
I don’t usually feel like a senior, but writing this, might give me a clue, this was a long time ago.. It was a wonderful way to live, enjoying the miracle of earth’s provision.
See you back here in the fall in time for harvest.