Tag Archives: Prince Edward County

The Kilbourne Vine Caper…

Note: Today would have been my mom’s 72nd birthday.  This was my second post, so there are a lot of people who haven’t seen it…I am rerunning it today in memory of my mom.

Mom and Dad didn’t follow the typical path of Midwestern young people of their time: graduate high school, get married, and start popping out kids…Dad did a Bachelor’s in Journalism, followed by a Master’s in Divinity, and dreamed of going “back to the land” (he was raised in rural Ohio).  Mom was a “townie” – an artist who also loved music.  They were becoming more and more disillusioned with Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the crime in our neighbourhood.  In the summer of ’69, Dad quit the church and he and Mom packed up our suburban house.  Off we went to Southern Ontario, Canada.  After renting a house for a year, we settled in an old farmhouse on 43 acres of land in Prince Edward County in 1970.

I remember having a vegetable garden for several years when we first moved to the County.  Mom and Dad bought a big chest freezer, and Mom worked hard freezing everything we managed to grow.

Mom never forgot a plant that grew near the house where we lived when I was born in Kilbourne, Ohio in 1961.  She didn’t know its proper name, but called it “Kilbourne Vine.”  It was pretty, and it grew wild – that’s probably one reason it appealed to her.

Fast forward to the early 1980’s…Mom, my brother and I were planning a trip to visit relatives in Ohio.  It was on that vacation that Mom decided to bring a piece of the past home with her: she wanted to plant some “Kilbourne Vine” in our yard in Ontario.

Having arrived at my Grandad’s house in Bellefontaine, we set out for Kilbourne one day.  We got there about lunchtime, and Mom guided us to our old house.  We waited in the car while she jumped out and rang the doorbell.  No one answered.  My brother and I were somewhat horrified at what happened next…my mom began pulling pieces of the “Kilbourne Vine” out of the yard!  We kept our ears open for the scream of sirens, as we imagined being arrested by the Kilbourne sheriff for pilfering plants without permission.  Mom came back to the car, showing us her prize in triumph.  We left in a hurry, hoping some nosy neighbor hadn’t alerted the authorities!

We made it back to Bellefontaine without incident…the next hurdle would be getting through Canada Customs.  Having made many trips back and forth to Ohio over the years, Mom knew that bringing plants into Canada was illegal, but she had a plan: “I’ll put it on the floor of the back seat in plain sight, and if they say anything, I’ll just say that I didn’t know you couldn’t import plants,” she said.  My mom the rebel!

My mom the rebel!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and pulled up to the Canada Customs booth in Windsor.  My brother was driving.  The Customs officer was female, in her early 20’s, and was looking at Jeff with love in her eyes…she asked three questions (none of which pertained to the plant on the floor), and we were through!

We arrived home, and Mom planted the vine in her flower garden.  It thrived in its new home.  Twenty years later, Mom took a piece of it with her when she sold our house and moved in with my brother and his family in Carleton Place, Ontario.

Mom died in September of 2007.  The urn with her ashes sits on a stone wall in Jeff’s back yard, with Kilbourne vine planted close by.

I have seeds from the Kilbourne vine…I will find a special place and plant it here, too, in Mom’s memory.

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Flax, Fishing, Flickr, Flatulence, and Frustrations…But the Alliteration Stops Here…

It’s been another “can’t get out of my own way” week…here are some of the highlights:

1. Flax.  Spurred by my friend Suzanne’s success with homemade bagels,  I decided to give them a try.  I make bread a lot, but have only tried to make bagels one other time (with disappointing results!).  I eat a bagel (with jam) every morning for breakfast…my favourite flavour is “Sunflower Flax,” so I looked for a recipe for Flax Bagels online (thank you, Kristin!).  The recipe I used recommended dividing the dough into small balls before forming the bagels by sticking your thumb through the ball and stretching the hole a bit.  The boiling time was also quite a bit longer than Suzanne recommended: 5 minutes (I compromised with about three minutes).  One thing I learned is that I should have loosened the bagels from the cookie sheet right after I took them out of the oven…as they cooled, the sugar water stuck them to the tray like glue (even though I oiled the pan first).  Here are six of my 18 “beauties”:

Flax Bagels...they tasted as good as they look!

2. Fishing.  One of Jim’s work colleagues invited him to visit his ice-fishing hut this past weekend (we wanted to go, but were too busy ferrying kids around – maybe next weekend!).  I’ve loved to fish since I was a kid in Rednersville in Prince Edward County, Ontario…the best part of fishing is digging for the worms!  My younger brother and I would buy fish hooks at our neighbourhood store (2 for 5 cents), and take our rods down to the Bay of Quinte.  Mostly, we caught sunfish, perch, and large and small-mouthed bass…we always threw them back (the only fish we ate then came in stick form, and the Bay was known for its mercury contamination).  One day, I caught a big catfish. Unfortunately, it had swallowed my hook…I tried and tried to get it out (I even went home and got Dad’s needle-nosed pliers!).  After an hour-and-a-half, I reluctantly cut the line, knowing that the fish would probably die…what a decision for an eleven-year-old!  I was a guilty mess for the rest of the day!

The last time I was fishing was about seven years ago, when Hope was five…we took the kids to a Fish Farm, where they had a pond stocked with speckled trout.  You could catch as many as three fish, and pay, based on the weight of what you caught.  Hope has a rather short attention span…she was done in about three minutes.  I took over her pole (Anna stuck with it!).  We got our three fish, and took them home.  Once they were cleaned and filleted (a part of fishing I refuse to do), I stuffed them with fresh mushrooms and baked them in the oven…yummy!

Jim and I got fishing licenses the first summer we lived at Hammond River, but never ended up going fishing…maybe this summer!

3. Flickr.  Anna got a spiffy new camera on the weekend, the Nikon D3100.  The plan is for her to start building her portfolio for her post-secondary education (she graduates in 2012).  She’s been borrowing Jim’s zoom lens and taking photos of our back porch wildlife.  Anna has a new account on Flickr if you want to see more (link also under “Photos” at right).

One of our kamikaze squirrels...someone should tell them that plastic isn't good to eat! (Photo by Anna Matheson)

 

4. Flatulence.  The other day, I was having a spirited conversation with a customer at the bookstore about the beauty of structural details in old buildings.  We were standing in front of the “Technical” section…I heard a series of small explosions as he stepped quickly away from me, excusing himself.  Whoo-eee!  I don’t know what the man had for breakfast, but my money’s on beans!  I bit my lip, trying hard not to laugh…it doesn’t take much to get me going…I wonder sometimes if I was a 10-year-old boy in another life!

5. Frustrations.  We had another snowstorm yesterday, which dropped another foot on us, and gave the kids another snow day, their fifth one this winter (it came at the end of the high schoolers’ exams, and two “turn-around” days, so the older kids had a whole week off!).  Since Jim had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, his boss suggested he work from home in the morning.  I decided to take a “snow day” too.  I stayed in my jammies all day, stepping away from the computer every once in a while to break up arguments in the family room (and load the dishwasher with millions of cups and bowls!). 

Jim left for the doctor’s office around two…the snow was a blizzard by then!  He texted me to let me know he’d made it to the office, and then called once he was finished with his appointment.  He advised that he was going to pick up a prescription and then return home.  My dad called at 4:00 from the bookstore to say that he was planning to close early and come home…he wanted to know how the driveway was.  I told him our plow guy hadn’t come yet, but he’d probably make it in if he hurried!  Fifteen minutes later, Jim called to tell me the transmission on the car had died a mile down the road…he was waiting for a tow truck, and directing people around the car, which was still in the roadway.  Luckily, our neighbour who lives in the house near where he broke down invited Jim in to get warm while he waited…he usually wears several layers of clothing (he once went to work with two pairs of pyjama pants under his jeans), but had left the house in a hurry in the afternoon (at least there was a toque and gloves in the car!).  He finally got home about 5:15…the tow truck driver had kindly dropped him off (for just over $140, it was the least he could do!).  So our Toyota is sitting at the transmission repair place in Saint John waiting for parts, in line behind several other vehicles whose parts were delayed by the snowstorm.  Did I mention we just had our van towed to the garage on Monday to have the problems with the power steering and the blower fixed (tally for that is over $1000 so far – they found some rusty lines)?  Thankfully, Jim’s parents will lend us a car until we have at least one of our vehicles back!

I got to bed late last night after a long distance phone call to a dear friend who’s going through a big crisis in her life.  Apparently, I neglected to set my alarm, and woke up an hour late this morning (and spent ten minutes looking for Anna’s cheerleading shorts, and then her coat).  I’m hoping people won’t notice that I haven’t had a shower…

At least I’m not farting…

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Winter Tales…

Long-time readers of my blog know that I was born in Ohio, and spent the first eight years of my life there.  Winter in Ohio is kind of “hit and miss”…sometimes you have snow, but not very much, and sometimes it gets cold, but not very cold (at least, not by Canadian standards, where I live now!)…

When there was snow in Ohio, my brother, Jeff, and I would put on our snowpants and boots, and take out our sleds, which had metal runners…generally, they didn’t work very well because more than three inches is a lot of snow in Ohio, and doesn’t happen a lot!  We had better luck with our red “flying saucer”…which looked a lot like a giant Frisbee with rope handles.  Our back yard in Oregon (a suburb of Toledo) had a big hill which was fine for “flying.”

We moved to Ontario when I was eight…Jeff and I were ecstatic to live where there was snow pretty much continuously from mid-November through February (and sometimes March)!  Our parents bought us a big wooden toboggan, and we also had Crazy Carpets to use by ourselves.  We had lots of snow the winter of 1970-71…my dad would pile the snow he shovelled out of our driveway at the end of it, where there was a deep ditch.  With the snowpile being about ten or twelve feet high, we had a great long run from the top of the pile down into the ditch…often we didn’t even bother using vehicles…we’d just slide on the bums of our snow-encrusted layers of jeans (we’d outgrown our snowpants by then – we’d just put on 2 or 3 pairs of pants and play until we were soaked to the skin!).

Here's a picture of Jeff and I standing on top of our snowpile in the winter of 1970-71...yes, those are power/phone lines beside our heads!

We had great fun sliding behind/beside the Rednersville house too!  I remember at least one occasion when my brother and I were on the toboggan together and going very fast, when suddenly, we stopped dead and we both flew off the toboggan landing face-first in the snow.  We weren’t hurt, and couldn’t stop laughing because when I emerged from the snowbank, the snow had packed itself into my glasses!

There was a big field beside the house.  One winter, we’d had freezing rain, which had created a beautiful crust on about eight inches of snow…it was so slippery, you could barely walk on it!  Our family decided to take advantage of the excellent conditions and got out the toboggan.  That was the only time I recall my mom actually going out sliding with us (Dad came out quite often).  Mom sat on the toboggan by herself, and Dad let go when she was ready.  A minute or two later, we heard a thump and a blood-curdling yell: “Dave…I think I broke my back!”  My mom had “found” the one apple tree in the middle of the field!  Dad made his way out to the scene of the accident, loaded Mom back onto the toboggan, and pulled it to the car.  After we were all in, we left for the emergency room.  Mom’s back wasn’t broken, just badly bruised!

We were lucky at the Rednersville house to have 43 acres of land with a big hill behind us.  With our friends, Jimmy and Dougie, we could go to the top of the hill, and slide several hundred feet, almost all the way back to the house.  Crazy Carpets were the best vehicle for that, once the trail was established.  One winter, there was a friendly dog around which we christened “Wolfie” because he sort of looked like one.  Wolfie used to like to jump on our backs as we hurtled down the hill on our stomachs on our Crazy Carpets.  The worst injury we ever got was ending up in thorn bushes!

A couple of times, my best friend, Angela, took me out “Skidooing” in the woods behind her house.  We were about eleven, I think (snowmobiles were a lot smaller then).  That was always fun!  My dad hated it when snowmobilers trespassed on our property…he’d go out and yell at them until they left!

I moved to New Brunswick in 1984…winter was different again…you could have snow in late October, right through April sometimes!  There is also not much of a spring…you can literally go from wearing your parka to wearing shorts (and back again, sometimes several times).  There is no gradual warming like we had in Ontario.

I lived in Moncton in February of 1992 when an all-time snowfall record was broken…Moncton had a total of fourteen feet of snow that month in THREE storms.  The biggest storm was on February 1st.  At the time, I worked at a non-profit agency which was about a 10-block walk from our apartment, and we didn’t have a car.  Buses were off the road.  I walked to work, wearing a skirt (I was wearing other clothes too!).  When we got to the building, there was a snowbank about twelve feet high in front of it!  I met one of my co-workers outside, and together we decided to go around the corner and get a coffee, in hopes that our boss might arrive soon, equipped with a shovel to dig a path to the front door!  We had our coffee, and went back to work…everything was as it was when we left.  Since it was already past time to start work, I decided to bite the bullet, and climb the snowbank!  I probably didn’t resemble a mountain goat very much in my long black wool coat, and knee-high boots as I clambered up the hill.  When we arrived in the office, there was our boss, clad in a snowmobile suit…she had come in the back door, and hadn’t thought about us trying to get in the front!  I never liked her!

I tried to find public domain photos of the big Moncton snowstorm on the Internet, but failed.  I remember a paint store on St. George St. cutting “windows” in the snowbank in front of their store and setting paint cans in them to let people know they were there!

Winters in Moncton could be very cold too…I remember one year that we had three solid weeks of windchills between -30 and -36 C. (which is almost the same temperature in Fahrenheit).  School was never cancelled for cold weather, and every day I walked Kaylee the three blocks to her elementary school.  It’s a wonder we didn’t turn into Popsicles!

I moved to Saint John, New Brunswick in November of 1997.  Winters are milder in this area due to the proximity to the ocean.  There are a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, and a lot more ice.  We had some freezing rain in November of 2007 when my dad was undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer.  About 6:30 a.m., he was walking to the bus stop to go to the hospital, and ended up flat on his back in the driveway two doors from our house.  He got up, and continued on his way.  While Dad was having his treatment, he mentioned that he’d had a fall and that he might need an X-ray.  The X-ray confirmed that he’d cracked five ribs.  I didn’t find out about the accident until several hours later…when I asked Dad why he didn’t just come back home, he said, “I didn’t want to mess up their schedule at radiation!”  Sometimes, my dad’s so stoic, I just want to shake him!  I was glad he wasn’t more seriously injured though!

We moved to Hammond River the following year…there’s a little more snow here than in town, and it gets a little colder, but we love it!  I’ve got the best snowplow guy in the world, which is a good thing because our driveway is a quarter mile long…way too much to shovel!  He always has us plowed out by 7 a.m.  When we can get them off their computers, the kids go out sliding, or skating at the little pond down the road.  Here’s a photo of Jim and I taken in January of 2009…not much snow then:

Wendy and Jim beside our house in Hammond River...that's the back yard behind us, and the view of the hills on the other side of the river...

 It’s been raining all week, with more to come…I hope we get some snow before Christmas!

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Je Parle Français (Sort of)…

In the spring of 1975, I boarded a school bus with about 29 other rural Grade 8 students from Kente Public School in Ameliasburg, Ontario, bound for L’Assomption, Quebec (a small town near Montreal).  We were going on an exchange trip for three days, unilingual anglophones being dropped into a place where French was the language of choice.

I don’t remember much of the ride there…I suspect that I must have slept through a lot of it, having spent most of the night before trying to convince my mother that maybe I shouldn’t go after all (I’d never been away from home by myself before).  Mom stuck to her guns…I think the trip probably cost them a fair amount of money (which we were usually short of).  I do remember the songs we heard on the radio, over and over: Fox on the Run, Philadelphia Freedom, and Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.  Hearing those songs always makes me think of that trip.

We arrived at Polyvalente Paul-Arseneau (the host school) at about noon.  The school housed students from Grades 7 through 13…quite unusual to combine middle school with high school!  The next thing we noticed was that at least half of the students smoked at school (and the adults didn’t seem to mind).  After a welcome speech in the gym (most of us didn’t understand any of it), we were matched with our host students and had lunch in the school cafeteria.  A swim in the school pool was scheduled after lunch.  I whipped out my pocket French-English dictionary, and tried to tell my host, Isabelle, that I did not want to go swimming (it was cool that the school had its own indoor pool, but I wasn’t a good swimmer).  After only three years of rudimentary French classes in Ontario, I’m sure my skills were sorely lacking.  French verb tenses are notoriously complicated, and we’d only learned “present tense” so far.  It took a great deal of wild gesticulating and pigeon French to get my point across.  I sat on a bench while the other kids splashed in the pool.  After the swimming, we went on a tour of the school…it was huge compared to ours!  Then we got on the buses with our host students to go home with them.  Isabelle lived in a neighbouring community called Saint-Sulpice.

Isabelle's first letter to me...her English was better than my French!

Arriving at Isabelle’s house, she introduced me to her mom, and her two sisters still living at home.  They were nice enough, but I remember very little about them.  We ate supper in awkward silence.  After supper, Isabelle’s mom dropped us off back at her school…we got on a bus which took us to Jerry Park in Montreal for a Montreal Expos game.  The Expos were playing the Cincinnati Reds (a nice coincidence since I was born in Ohio).  The Reds won 3-2.  I decided that baseball was more fun to play than to watch…

My Expos ticket stub...notice the price: $3.63 plus $.37 tax = $4.00!

It was almost midnight by the time we got back to Isabelle’s house…I was exhausted, and went right to sleep.

We slept in Saturday morning, but had breakfast before we got back into the car to return to Isabelle’s school, where we’d board another bus and head to Old Montreal.  Our first stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral.    I was used to Methodist and United churches…I was shocked when we stepped into Notre Dame…I’d never seen so much gold and beautiful artwork outside of a museum!  I would have happily spent all afternoon there…

Then, we went to Man and His World, an amusement park that had been built as part of Expo ’67 when it was held in Montreal.  I’m not a big fan of amusement parks.  We saw a dolphin show at the aquarium, and went on a few rides.   My favourite was the log ride, which was very high…we got soaked, but it was fun!

For supper, we all went to a restaurant called Crèpe Bretonne, where I had real crèpes for the first time…mine were stuffed with apples, and had whipped cream on the top (I was so excited that I made crèpes for my family when I got home!).

After supper, we drove up to Mount Royal on the bus…it was a pretty view of the city lights at night from up there!  We got home very late again that night.

There wasn’t time to sleep in on Sunday morning…we had to be at Isabelle’s school at 8:45 to board another bus for a local marina.  We went on a boat tour on the St. Lawrence River, and then had a picnic for lunch.  After another bus ride back to the school, all the anglophone students boarded our bus and headed for home.  I was excited to see my parents and brother, and sleep in my own bed!

A few weeks later, the French students visited us…they had five days to spend in Ontario.  I don’t remember much of what we did, other than attending a dance at our school where some of the French kids got into trouble for smoking outside.  One of my classmate’s parents hosted an outdoor barbecue for the exchange students at their house…imagine inviting 60 middle school kids to your back yard!  I remember music and dancing, but not much else!

Isabelle and I wrote to each other for about a year after we met, even after her family moved to Baie Comeau.  Other than both being quiet girls, I don’t think we really had much in common, and we soon lost contact with each other.

While going through some boxes the other day, I found the little book we were given to keep a journal of our trip…the only thing written in mine was Isabelle’s name and address.  I wish now I had kept a better account.  I still have all of Isabelle’s letters though…

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Sounds That Soothe My Soul…Part 1, The First 20 Years

Music has been an essential part of my life for as long as I can remember…it is as crucial to my existence as food and water…without it, I would not be the person that I am.

My father sang throughout high school and university, in church (he was a Methodist minister) and at home.  He sings bass in the Saint John Men’s Chorus, and has performed as part of the chorus in a couple of local operas.  Dad prefers music of a classical or religious nature (his solo version of “They Call the Wind Mariah” is one that sticks in my mind), although he has done a few show tunes, and occasionally enjoys listening to more popular fare such as Kenny Rogers or John Denver.  Mom bought him a guitar when we were kids, and he taught himself to play.  I still have tapes of us singing “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Dad - late 1970's

My mom’s father was an excellent organist (I remember him playing the theme from “The Sting”)…we used to stand around the organ at Christmas and sing carols.   Mom and her three sisters grew up playing saxophone or clarinet in high school band.  Mom loved music enough to want to major in it in university, but only lasted a year before homesickness sent her back to her parents.  She had “perfect pitch” – I think that’s why I find it so difficult to tolerate off-key singing.  Mom’s musical tastes were a lot broader than Dad’s – along with classical favourites such as Vivaldi and Debussy, she liked Simon and Garfunkel and other early folkies.  In the 1970’s, she discovered Roberta Flack – I always think of Mom when I hear “Killing Me Softly.”

Mom - Late 1960's

I began picking out tunes by ear on our piano at age three, and started formal lessons with Miss Goldie Roe when I was five.  Miss Roe was elderly, and one of the sweetest women I’ve ever known.  Lessons were a dollar for an hour, which was quite a bit of money for my parents in the late ’60’s.  I remember that Miss Roe had broken her wrist at one point, but wrote left-handed in my lesson book the pieces I was to practice – I still have those books, complete with the pretty stickers she gave me each week.  My lessons stopped the summer we moved to Canada – we sold the piano because it was too big to move (I was halfway through the Second Grade of John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano)!

My First Grade Piano Book...

Our first home in Canada came with an old pump organ, but it didn’t work very well.  I borrowed my dad’s guitar and taught myself enough chords to be able to sing songs I liked.  My parents bought me a recorder, and I learned to play that too – it wasn’t my favourite instrument.

About 1970, I saw an ad on TV for a compilation disc put out by K-Tel: “22 Explosive Hits.”  That was the first album I ever bought – it had the techno song, “Popcorn” on it, and several other classics.  I listened to it over and over again on my mom’s stereo – I was delighted to find it again in her record collection after she passed away.  Over the next few years, I would save my paper route and babysitting money, and go to “Sam the Record Man” and buy albums on sale (some of it was total crap!).  I would put on a record and dance to it, all by myself…I always played the whole album…I never had any respect for people who skipped songs!  I went to all the school dances in junior high – I loved Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business”! 

My First Album Purchase...

Once I got to high school, I joined the school band – my parents bought me a flute, which took me a good week to learn how to get a sound out of.  I never was a very good player – had trouble narrowing my airstream enough to hit the high notes!  I loved the social aspect of band though – we got to travel around and perform.  Our conductor, Mr. Williams, was quite comical to watch, but very committed to his work!

When I was about fifteen, I had my very brief “hard rock” period – I bought Kiss’s double album – “Alive”, and played it all the time for a few months – my parents probably wanted to throttle me…

Kiss "Alive" Album...

After high school, one of my first jobs was in a camera store in the mall, which happened to be right next door to the record store – there was a very cute boy who worked there (he had an earring – the classic “bad boy”) – I was smitten!  My record collection grew considerably after that!  I was buying mainly pop – Bryan Adams, the Police, Billy Joel, and Elton John.  In 1981, I went to my first rock concert – a friend and I took the train to Toronto and saw Genesis with 40,000 other people at Exhibition Place – a scary experience for two teenagers from Prince Edward County!

To be continued…

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Pickin’ and Grinnin’…

When I tell my kids that I had my first job at age 10, they look at me like I have two heads…my best friend, Angela, and I used to pick raspberries for a German couple in Rednersville, Ontario.  Every other day in the summer (as long as it wasn’t raining), we would put on old long-sleeved shirts belonging to our fathers, old jeans, and running shoes.  We would spray ourselves with insect repellant (paying special attention to our wrists and ankles), and off we would go to the berry patch.  Mrs. W. would provide us with wooden quart baskets to collect the berries in, and show us where to start.  We picked red, blue and even a rare type of yellow raspberry – it was extra sweet, but there were only a couple of bushes of those.  Blues were my favourite…they were the size of our thumbs, tasted good, and filled up the baskets faster than the reds!  On a good morning, I could pick 10 quarts, which earned me the princely sum of $1.50 (which seemed like a lot when my weekly allowance was 15 cents!).

What we called "blue raspberries" were probably "loganberries"

The next summer, I cleaned up!  They were paying 25 cents a quart to pick strawberries at a farm down the road, so I did that in June, and picked raspberries in July and August (my brother and I also started splitting a paper route that year, and I was babysitting too).  At home, I loved to pick peas and green beans (my mom let us sell the beans at a stand by the road – we had lots).

Jeff and I Not Working...

Prince Edward County is known for its apples.  In the fall, I picked apples at the orchard across the road – Greening, McIntosh, Cortland, Ida Red, Northern Spy, and Red Delicious.  Apples were worth 50 cents a bushel, but one had to climb on a rickety ladder to pick them…that wasn’t my favourite job!

Apples...

I picked every summer/fall until I went to college.  That summer, my brother got me a job on the market garden farm he worked at – I would work with Jeff and three other men (our boss, Nicky, his brother, Danny, and Jeff’s school friend, David).  David used to come and pick me up on his dirt bike.  I would climb on, put on my helmet, and hang on for dear life as he flew off down the road!  I always arrived in one piece!  When we got to Nicky’s house, we’d pile in his truck, and drive out to the fields (which were about a mile from his house).  He grew tomatoes, green peppers, corn, and potatoes mostly.  We would spend all day in the field – I learned how to “hold my water,” not wanting to go off and pee at the side of the field in front of four men!  At lunch, Nicky would pull his cooler out of the truck – it was always packed with bread, cold cuts, and lime rickey (which was a great thirst quencher!).  We would pick tomatoes right off the plants, wipe them on our pants (they weren’t organic), and slice them right on to our sandwiches!  I still remember the way they tasted!

Cap from Canada Dry Lime Ricky...

My brother had terrible hay fever…I can still hear him sneezing multiple times whenever we had to pick corn!

Jeff in his work clothes...

At the end of the day, we’d load up the truck with the crates of whatever we were picking that day, and it would be put in cold storage until Market Day.  I wish I still had the muscles (and the tan) I built up that summer!

Sometimes, we’d get to go to the Kingston Farmer’s Market with Nicky – I loved chatting with the customers.  One particular Saturday afternoon, Danny had gone off somewhere and not come back to the stall.  Knowing his brother’s penchant for alcohol, Nicky figured he was off on a bender, and we left without him (50 miles away- I have no idea how Danny got home!).  Nicky didn’t put up with any nonsense (he worked at the cement plant all night too – I don’t know when he slept!).

Today, I still love to pick anything going…I go every year to pick blackberries.  I’m looking forward to harvesting from my own garden this summer!

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