In late November 2002, Alex and I drove from Edmonton, across country to Cleveland Ohio to participate in Fabtec, a very large convention for steel fabricators.
There was literally hundreds of miles of flat farmland that rolled by my window as Alex kept his foot on the accelerator. It was November, so there were no lush crops growing or even acres and acres of golden wheat or barley swaying in the sunshine, which I find beautiful. Instead, there was miles and miles of rather bleak landscape, tilled land with a dusting of snow, like icing sugar from above. Instead of it being a little depressing, as it may have been for some travellers, it surprised me to find a peaceful feeling surrounding me as we travelled ever farther east. Where did the peace come from? It has become clear to me.
Summer on the mixed farm were I grew up in Southern Ontario, was a very productive time, crops to cultivate and weed, hay to gather before the rain came. Grains to be threshed or combined, more recently. Never rushed or out of control and never did we delay or postpone our three meals a day. The days had a rhythm that brought a sense of ALL IS WELL. Every day except Thursday noon , my Father sat at the head of the table and we all filed into our own spaces. five boys and five girls.My father went once a week with his 2ton truck with a load of produce, plus eggs and New York dressed chickens, to sell to Greek, Chinese and Italian grocers along The Danforth and Queen St. in “the city” (Toronto) .Back to the large family, it dwindled as the years went on and I, being the youngest was the last to “fly the coop”.
As autumn or fall as we called it arrived, the program changed from growing , into harvest and store. The days were cooler, sometimes we needed to rescue garden things from impending frosts. Rutabagas, were to be dug and hauled into the large root cellar, potatoes also. Apples ripened, ready to be picked and stashed, for the whole winter.Cabbages and pumpkins stored well, as did beets. Everything we needed to eat WELL all winter was day by day hauled in before the cold arrived.
I tell my grandchildren, our grocery lists were nearly non-existent. Mr.Johnson, grocer from Gormley would call to ask Mom what she needed to have delivered this week. She didn’t want to disappoint him, so she would order something like Old Dutch Cleanser (remember that) or Bon Ami to polish windows, and some times Kelloggs Corn Flakes, the Sunday morning breakfast. In my day, after they stopped making their own vinegar, I remember him bringing his vinegar and it “glug glug glugged” into Mom’s jug. By the way, I don’t remember any garbage either. After the dog licked the butter wrappers they were thrown into the wood stove. Tin cans were pretty well unheard of. Flour and sugar were bought in bulk, honey in 40 lb pails, apple butter in very large crocks. These items were stored upstairs in the “dungle kemmerly” some kind of German for dark closet.
The leaves changed to their spectacular colours and drifted to the ground The black walnuts fell with a thud from the trees. We kids gathered chestnuts on the way home from school, and there were mounds of coloured leaves to rake and jump into.
.,The loose hay was piled under the hip roof of the barn, for the hay burning cows in their stanchions on the lowest level. The laying hens and the full grain bins were on the middle floor. The silo was filled with corn silage for the cows, as well as the crib was full of dried corn.There was plenty of golden straw for daily, fresh bedding for the animals.
The cellar of our large brick house stored potatoes, to eat and sell. There were apples for the winter plus all the preserved fruits and in more recent times a monster freezer full of veg and meat.
WHAT SATISFACTION TO SEE THE YEARS PRODUCTION” SAFELY GATHERED IN ERE THE WINTERS STORMS BEGIN”
There you have it, those bare bleak fields in the Canadian and American plains brought back that remarkable feeling of ALL IS WELL . The animals as well as the humans can make it through another winter, and yes perhaps there will be time for a little leisure.
(I can’t remember much leisure though !! We were of German descent we couldn’t help it.)
The picture below, I would of course insert Canada into this. I love the concept of “NEITHER TO SERVE NOR TO RULE” Wouldn’t that be a beautiful world?