Crazy and hazy

It was one of those hot and windless mid-August mornings.

Not a bird in sight; not even the swallows that had dipped and dived catching flies to feed the young they had raised in their half-cup mud-dabbed nest high in the rafters of the barn.

No vireos sang from the white birch tree cluster and no warblers trilled from the tightly leafed maples in front of the barn. There was just an eerie silence that was broken only by the tick, tick, tick of a sapsucker’s bill as he searched, upside down, looking for insects that were hiding in the down-curled turn of the tree’s rough bark.

As it dined on what I supposed was its breakfast, a faraway crow could be heard voicing, not “Caw, caw, caw,” but “Haw, haw, haw,” as it laughed at the world and its people. High in the sky, a jet plane left its fading-out white haze trail as it travelled to faraway western places across the bluest of cloud-free sky. I suppose it could be called as one of those “crazy, hazy, lazy days of summer.”

I just happened to be sitting on Jenney, my jitney, in the shade of the overhang across the front of the barn, waiting for a couple who were coming to talk birds, domestic birds specifically known as canaries. It is a subject that I have probably forgotten more about than most will ever know.

The silence of the morning brought back memories of the day that I became the proud owner of my first pair of birds. My parents, having stood for 37 years hand-running as vendors at the Guelph Farmer’s Market, obviously became well known. It was they who first introduced cut flowers to the market; a market up to then that sold only meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

The sneered laughter that echoed throughout the whole building when they brought the first bucketful in from our sedan delivery soon drifted away – and drifted further into oblivion when the second and third bucket was brought in and snapped up by customers that waited in line. Home-churned jersey butter was their later introduction.

At the end of this ancient cattle barn area, which once hosted the Royal Winter Fair, was a swaybacked lean-to that should have crumpled beneath the weight of winter snows years before, but just never did.

 It was used weekly, each Saturday, to house an auction of anything anybody wished to bring in. It was here in this building that I looked at the sky through the cracks in the roof, as the numbers packed in left only elbows to poke and prod faces at my seven-year-old head height.

I enjoyed listening to the babble of the fast-talking auctioneer, wondering often why he talked so fast, as no one seemed anxious to go anywhere. As I looked up, stifling a cough from pipe smoke blown in my face, I saw my father slightly nod his head and then the auctioneer bellowed, “sold.”

Next week, I’ll let you know how much that word sold meant to me.

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins