Round and about

Not often do I get the opportunity to crisscross the country as often as I have these past few weeks.

Not knowing the area that surrounds and having the pleasure of riding shotgun as I don’t drive, leaves me gawking into nooks and crannies that can’t possibly be seen while paying attention to driving, especially when the leaves, beautiful as they are, are still on the trees.

It is quite surprising how many big, beautiful homes show up, as well as the number of attractive little cottages and their cute little outbuildings that seem to appear out of nowhere – all nestled neatly at the end of snow-covered, curved lanes that in summer hide them completely among shady multi-species woodland trees.

One of the chaps who offered to show me around, as he knows the area like the back of his hand, was Jonnie O. He and I date back to double digit pre-teen public school days spanning Grades 6, 7 and 8.

Being of Czechoslovakian extraction, he dropped all but the ‘O’ from his family name, as most people at the time, could not pronounce it, let alone spell it. His family had moved from Toronto to the farm across the road that fronted ours.

The same wandering freshwater spring-fed creek, where watercress flourished at every turn, babbled beneath the shadows of a small cement bridge from their farm, where it bubbled freely from the ground, to the full length of ours and beyond.

Loving both animals and meeting like-thinking individuals, Jonnie became a cattle drover for the greater part of his life. Our paths crossed again after I moved to cattle country, where he knows every road, side road, and dead end, as well as every possibly impassable, undeveloped road allowance colloquially known as goat paths.

These are passable by the light weight of horse and buggy but leave a lot to be desired by the four-wheel-drive vehicles waiting for a tractor or neighborhood team to pull them out.

Not having any particular area in mind, we randomly chose to just wander about. Jonnie had comments to mention about almost every farm that we passed. It was milk goats here, sheep there, and dairy cows over next to the farm that raised the black Angus cattle. Pigs there, chickens here, turkeys there, and a full barn of Jersey cows over there, probably close to a hundred.

He well knew that I had a weak spot for Jerseys. It was Jersey cows that I milked by hand before and after school each day. It was rich Jersey butter on homemade bread that I carried to school for lunch.

There is nothing cuter than a young Jersey calf waiting to be milk-fed from a hand held bottle. They would playfully jump up and down, wagging their tails excitedly, when they heard the hand-turned separator start to hum its familiar tune.

When the road sign Conn appeared on the roadside ahead of us, I casually mentioned I would like to stop in to the little store there.

I had known about it for several years but never had the opportunity to go there. It is owned by a man named Martin. I have known his father, Ivan, a bird enthusiast, for years. Jonnie O commented that his truck would not go past this place without turning in. He had known its owner for quite some time.

With a name as common as Martin, you have probably guessed it to be owned by a Mennonite. You are absolutely right. It has the quaint charm and neatness of the average shop, featuring home baking, fresh produce, and meats and cheese, with additional shelves and wall space loaded to the hilt with exceptional, unique gift items not usually found in such a location. If you have not been to this little store in Conn, then you have just never been. Give it priority on your next to-do list – you won’t be disappointed.    

Our day ended well before sunset, having pigged out on a steak dinner at the Town and Country Restaurant in Guelph. The Little Lady and I had frequented that open-kitchen restaurant many, many more times than you could count on her and my combined fingers and toes. Things have not changed one iota there.

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins