Summer’s gone

On the last day of August, along about the 4am hour, my furnace kicked in, telling me that the temperature outside must have dropped quite considerably during the night.

When I rose about an hour later to the tune of my self-winding alarm clock’s crowing, coming in over the monitor in our kitchen, there was definite proof that frost was on the pumpkin. The neighbour’s garage roof showed white with frost.

For a moment I was quite concerned, as I had not had a chance to bring in the houseplants that I had placed outside for the summer, mainly 20 or more of my orchids, which are quite expensive to replace.

But as it turned out, my worries were short-lived. They were in a frost-free niche, up on a table, on a slightly raised wooden deck that is tucked in the inner corner of our L-shaped, vine-covered, stone-walled cottage.

Actually, they were very little trouble to look after this past summer, as the many soft water rains and cool nights are just what their epiphytic sys

Though orchids are slow-growing, the one or two new leaves that were added during the summer look really strong and healthy. Though the flower stems haven’t started to peep out just yet, I’ll be expecting a lot of blooms this winter.

I should have had them moved inside a little sooner, but I had spent 10 days of the last two weeks up at my son’s tornado-devastated farm helping, where I could to clean up the widely scattered debris, and I got back home late the night before, dead tired.

I don’t want you to go running around telling everybody, but my first day back home I got caught up on about 13-and-a-half noontime snoozes all in a row. It takes the back-home-again-bed in which to get a really good night’s peaceful slumber.

Nevertheless, I was happy with the clean-up process that took place at the farm. The first Friday morning after the devastation took place, the neighbours from both near and far showed up with chain saws, clearing the downed trees on the road and those across the laneways.

The following day, Saturday, more chain saw-wielding volunteers showed up among the 34 volunteers, and the many downed trees were cut up into smaller lengths and handballed onto trucks and trailers and hauled to a central pile.

In the meantime, a volunteer showed up with a giant diesel backhoe and dug a humongous fire pit into which all the brush and debris were collected and burnt. The following day, Sunday, an equal number of volunteers pulled, tugged, raked and yanked anything and everything that was movable and took it to the fire pit to be burnt. It was a fire pit that never stopped burning for the next 12 days.

During the last days of that first week, a crew from the Mennonite community showed up to salvage what they could and clean up the balance of the devastated huge barn and quite large shed.

When I left on the second Monday night, all that was left was the crumpled steel from the shed and barn roofs to be picked up by the scrap yard for recycling and the cracked and crumbled building foundations to be buried in a yet to be excavated hole.

 Never before have I seen such a mammoth cleanup done in such a short time. Granted, there are still dozens of downed trees along the fencerows to be cleaned up and a mile or more of downed fencing to be replaced, but that can come later. Never before have I been so thankful for the help of so many volunteers.

By the way, folks, I almost forgot. This is the weekend that I’m going to be at the Arthur Fair with a display of my birdhouses and of course, my four books. See you all there.

Take care, ‘cause we care.


Barrie Hopkins