If they could talk

A nearby neighbour dropped in this past week and, as he had a number of places to go, he asked if I wanted to go along for the ride.

If you are going to be going past a TSC store, I certainly want to go. My intentions were to pick up a pair of heavy work jeans – which I did. I missed the sale price by one day, and the dummy on the desk would not budge.

The word work is now a nasty four-letter word in my vocabulary and not often implied, but the fact that work jeans are warm in the winter months was my reason for going along for the ride. At this time of year, it is certainly a pleasant bonus.

Stop “A” was quite a distance from home, along curved, this way and that, up and down, gravel roads; it was truly an interesting trip for me. Riding shotgun has a great advantage: it allows one to gawk and look whichever way one should so desire. The fact many trees had already dropped their foliage left me slack-jawed, gaping at many hidden close-to-the-road summer retreats. What you don’t see under leaf cover is certainly an eye opener.

Stops B, C, D and possibly E and F were over in a highly-congested area between Barrie and Orillia. Highway 400 was crisscrossed several times by both under- and overpass, searching in vain for a company that had just recently moved. Riding shotgun in this traffic-congested area was a seat-gripping experience that left me humbly appreciative of rural route residency being far greater than urban or suburb.

Heading home in the direction of Beaver Valley, through the apple orchards at the base of the Blue Mountain where the trees were loaded with fruit, I saw, tucked in between, several well-kept vineyards whose crops, I’m sure, will be heading shortly to local wine cellars.

And there were pumpkins – acres of pumpkins heading for the jack-o-lantern trade, and I hope a pie or two, maybe three, if one should be so lucky.

And, too, on the sad side, as we got back into cattle country, I saw small farm after farm, long neglected, with ramshackle homes and tumbled-down barns. The amalgamated acreage was stripped of hedgerows and fencing, with mono-planted cash crop fields often exceeding 100 acres.

And yes! I saw factory farming of beef cattle, milk cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys, where the creatures raised never get to enjoy the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the breeze, or the whiteness of clouds on a clear, blue sky summer day.

If these old buildings could talk, you would be hearing of shattered dreams, broken homes, the ending of a way of life, with grown children filling work slots far, far from home. You would be hearing of the ancestors’ struggles to clear the 10- and 12-acre fields, building stone and stump fences, splitting the rails, and picking the stones.

You would hear of sustainable mixed farming with horses, cows, pigs sheep and chickens the main staples; where neighbour helped neighbour, children were safe, and church bells rang on a Sunday. You would hear of happiness, health, and family life.

I  get a strong feeling that these old buildings, by their tumbled down silence, are talking.

They are shouting loud and clear that somewhere, somehow, someplace, man in his own stupidity and greed has taken the wrong fork in life’s road.

Take care, ’cause we care.





Barrie Hopkins