Home from holiday…
August 18, 2008

Well, the first full day back from holiday has been relatively slow. It is not that I’ve done nothing; I’ve just paced myself. There was a storm during the night and the temperature has dropped to a cool 7 C. I actually slept in until 10 am today. Mostly because I slept poorly last night. My hips were aching quite badly. I’m certain it is from the number of continuous hours I’ve spent behind the wheel of the car. The seats in my Escape are not very comfortable on long drives. I managed to get my two morning coffees into me by 11 am and took the trailer back to U-Haul. The rental was a tad more than I had anticipated but what the heck I was able to take most of my home with me to Tobermory. I think we took most of David’s home, too. No, we really didn’t need all that stuff. It was a ‘just in case’ scenario.
I cleaned out Cloud’s nest from the back of the car and returned all of the treasures she had tucked away in every nook an cranny. She is like a squirrel/chipmunk in the way she creates a nest in the back seat of the car. There are little stashes of food (candy/two day old pizza) and drink (partly consumed cans of pop and bottles of water) strategically placed so they are easy to find when she wakens from a travel nap. Now that I think of it, there is a distinct comparison to the condition of her bedroom at home.
Joy, Aidan, Cloudia and Tannon at lunch in the Crows Nest, Tobermory, ON

Joy, Aidan, Cloudia and Tannon at lunch in the Crow's Nest, Tobermory, ON

I am constantly reminded of her presence with us. Every time I put my hand in my pocket I find a new treasure the she has deposited there for safe keeping. My God! I’m a part of a squirrel nest. For every treasure I find tucked away, in trust that I will care for it, I am reminded of a moment in time when we were together and in great confidence Cloud would say, “Papa, please hang onto this for me. I don’t want to lose it.”

Days later, sometimes weeks later, I find the treasures entrusted to me and I add them to the pile of things that need be returned someday. And we’ll sit and laugh about how the treasures ended up in my possession and what stories we will share. (grin) I had to go to the grocery last night to fetch some staples–you know, the important stuff like bread and milk. The larder was quite bare. While shopping I ran into Dave, Jen and the twins. They arrived home from our shared holiday a few hours prior to us. They, too, were doing the same thing following our weeks adventure to Tobermory replenishing the food stocks. Tannon latched onto me in the store and decided that he was coming home with me. It appears that he had not had enough ‘Nana and Papa’ this past week. Actually, I think he would have stayed the night if we encouraged it in any way.
I did get some exercise in the backyard today. I am determined to continue with the work we started prior to the trip to Tobermory. So I spent most of the afternoon digging out roots of crabgrass. It felt good to be working beside the garden and admiring the way it has grown in the week we have been away. There are tomatoes on the tomato plants and there are really cucumbers on the vines. I can taste the dill pickles now. It really doesn’t matter that there are only two cucumbers almost ready to harvest. What is important is that two cucumbers grew. I am confident more will grow. The challenge now is that it happen before the first frost of the fall. That can happen any time now. It is evident that gardens grow, quite well, in spite of our ministrations, to produce the most delectable food. David picked radishes last night that were the size of small apples and left them on the the counter top in the kitchen for our dining pleasure upon our arrival home. What a delight!
But I digress. The digging finished, I moved about twelve heavy paving stones to the back of the property. Thank heaven Joy came along to help me do some of the lifting. I am too tired to lay the stones today. That can be a tomorrow job. I’ve cleared enough roots to lay at least three more stones in the walkway. Then I’ll dig again. I’m thinking I’ll call DJ, our grandson and see if he would like to earn some spending money over the next week. He is a young 16 with strong muscles.
Right now, I think I need a nap before preparing dinner. Yes, a glass of wine, a nap and dinner. Just what the doctor ordered. I’ll get to it then.                            GRB

If I grow up I think I will try archaeology
July 31, 2008

I’ve spent the day working in the sandbox again. Those of you who are wondering what a senior citizen is doing playing in a sandbox, rest assured I am not experiencing my second childhood. Yet! The truth be known, I have not yet left my first childhood. But, I digress. The sandbox is the whole of my backyard and it is part of an ancient raised beach of Lake Superior.

My current project is to reshape the beach so that there is no grass to bother with. I don’t want to water, fertilize or cut backyard grass again. To that end, my wife, Joy, and I have been hand digging out the roots of crabgrass, poplar trees, and sundry other forms of plant life. And ants! Big ants! Big red ants! We have chosen to hand dig for a variety of reasons. A few years ago, (Did I mention this was a big project? Yeah! Really big!) We tried using a gas driven cultivator to clear the vegetable garden. It worked!

The next spring the grasses and other plants came back with a vengeance–especially the crabgrass. It seems that when one uses a cultivator, the big crabgrass roots get chopped into thousands and thousands of little crabgrass roots. Given time, water and sunlight those chopped roots become–you guessed it–more crabgrass. So we dug the whole of the garden with a twisty thing to loosen the soil and roots and a garden fork to separate the roots from the sand. It worked. I now have a crabgrass free garden and the soil is very easy to dig and turn for the next year’s planting. This proven method of root extraction, while labour intensive, is effective. It is also green, quiet (I get to commune with the birds and the wind in the trees, the buzzing of mosquitoes the roar of the motorbikes practicing motocross in the easement) and it is great exercise.

So the project expanded and now we are removing all the grasses one root at a time from the backyard. That’s what led me to thinking about being an archaeologist. This digging is a nostalgia trip. WE are digging up things not only from the ancient past but, we are finding things from our past. Things that became lost in the sands since we built our home thirty years ago.

Today I dug up an aluminium tent peg. It came to be there from the night we had a company of Girl Guides camping in our backyard. My wife was a guide leader and the girls wanted a camping badge. At that time our home was backed by boreal forest and the backyard was the perfect place to practice camping skills in relative safety. The Guides set the tent, built a campfire and cooked their dinner. Later in the evening we joined them around the campfire and sang songs, told stories and ate somemores and drank hot chocolate and watched the stars. It was a great evening.

At lights out, I made certain that the girls and Joy were settled into their sleeping bags assuring them that if they needed me, the doors to the house were not locked and they could come in and waske me. You know the kind of things to which I refer–the tent fell down,; it is raining and everyone is wet;… Sure enough, in the wee hours of the morning I was awakened by a passel of girls running into the house more than a bit distraught and squealing loudly. They heard gunshots in the woods behind the house.

Guess who was sent to check this story out. Just guess. I got up and dressed and headed outside while the girls huddled in our room with Joy. No sooner had I stepped round the corner of the house when I heard the distinct sound of a firearm being discharged in short bursts. In short order I, too, was hunkered down with Joy and the guides wondering if we were under attack.

All that from an old tent peg buried in the back yard. Some of the details are blurred and no doubt I have done some embellishing. But that’s OK. It is my story and my memory. I don’t quite remember the outcome of it all other than it was a young man who had purchased a firearm through a magazine. He was out trying it out!

I wonder if archaeologists feel the same kind of rush when they find a tent peg or a musket ball or a… Yes, I think I will try archaeology when I grow up.                           GRB

July 16, 2008

Today the sun shone. I know that’s not terribly remarkable for most people but it is significant for the north shore of Lake Superior this year. We haven’t had much sun this summer. Mostly we have had rain–buckets of rain. Large buckets of rain. So when I say the sun shone today, know that it is a meaningful event.

We spent the day digging in the back yard redesigning the lay of the land. Our home (sanctuary) is built on an ancient raised beach of Lake Superior and the soil is 99% fine beach sand. The remaining 1% is what passes for topsoil in these parts. The Lake is currently about a kilometre away from the house and is significantly lower than the old beach in which we toiled.

While digging crabgrass roots out of the sand and marvelling at the fine hairy roots other plants put down to eek sustanance from the beach, I retold myself the story of “Paddle to the Sea” and wondered if perhaps the canoe stopped on my beach in its journey to the ocean. Then I replayed, in the theatre of my mind, the old NFB film “The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes”. I can see the waves pounding against these ancient sands doing as I am doing–reshaping the landscape.

As always time marched on and we accomplished the task we set out to do. Just another reshaping of the shoreline of Lake Superior. I feel good!  GRB