Just looking

The weekend prior to our first snowfall I took off to our son’s family farm, which is situated slightly west of Markdale.
The Little Lady and I always enjoyed going up there, for their farm brought back many memories of the rural route turf upon which both she and I trod barefoot in the youngest of our younger years. But as they have not been living there for little longer than the first year, we had been able to visit them only during the spring, summer, and early fall, when the colourful scenery is at its best.
This time was a little different. My son picked me up early on a Friday morning. As Highway 6 north was under construction we favoured the liberty of back road travel. I, as usual, not being in the drivers seat, had lots of opportunity to look and gawk around.
Uncouth as it may seem to those who prefer point-A-to-point-B, behind-the-wheel travel, I found myself enjoying the detour.
There were no colourful leaves, that is true, but the stark nakedness of the hillsides and woodlands exposed a beauty that could not be imagined during the heavy foliage of summer. We saw geese and ducks on the yet unfrozen ponds, flocks of wild turkey on the hillside, hawks in the air, and a few, what I thought to be, turkey vultures that had not yet left for the sunny south. As the hunting season for deer was still in progress we saw, too, many roadside parked vehicles, with camouflage garbed hunters huddled about.
We were not long back home on the farm when a neighbour dropped in. We’ll call him John, ’cause that happens to be the only name to which he will answer, and the only name to which I was introduced. John lives down the side road and around the corner, a mile or two or three. No name is on his mail-box, and his emergency number, though, prominently positioned, was rather tight lipped. His house is located beside a natural pond.
There is no shortage of water in their area. They do not fill in their wetlands nor do they disrupt the natural flow. They are not addicted to raping the existing terrain and robbing the water supply, as our local engineers, town planners, and councillors seem so passionate in doing. It was a joy to see homes well planned for their location. Pond-side lacked basements. Hillside were two level walk-outs, with windows and balconies overlooking the scenic ravines. Their septic systems were pump-out, the treed settings not marred by bulldozing septic beds. Perhaps there is a lesson that could, and should, be learned from these, so-called, backwoods living people. Unlike our elected powers that be, they are fully conscious of the environment and the need for its balance.
John had come to see if my son had a couple of boards. The story goes that he had a friend who was down on his luck and was now in a wheeled chair. Diabetes had claimed his right leg. He needed an aquarium stand made for a fish tank that held just short of 100 gallons. John, being a retired welder, had the tubular steel that was needed for strength, and my son had ample wood piled in the barn.
When my son heard that this was a volunteer effort, and having inherited his inability to say “no” from his old man, he said, “Sure, help yourself. I’ll help you. I can cut steel, I can weld, I can saw, sand, and stain boards. What are we waiting for?” During the time that it took to do justice in sampling the last drops of several brown bottles of amber liquid, in support of a nearby In and Out franchise, a beautiful strong table came into being. “We’ll take it over to Tom in the morning,” said John. “He lives on the other side of Blue Mountain, in Collingwood.”
I went with them in the morning. John, having lived and worked in the area all of his life knew all the back roads and he undertook to show us some landscape. Wow. What a beautiful hunk of country.
He took us over the mountain on the way there and around the mountain and through Beaver Valley on the way back. It was sure a pleasant way for me to spend a morning. Besides that, I got to meet Tom. Everyone should not be deprived of the opportunity of meeting Tom. The School of Hard Knocks issues no diplomas, but Tom, having just lost his third wife, held no grudges. He went on with life.
Take care, ’cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins