Sunday, October 7, 2012
It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada
I went for a drive this morning. I often grab a breakfast item from McDonald’s and go down to one of the many provincial parks along the shore of Okanagan Lake.
It was still this morning. No breeze at all. Temperature in the low 20s. (That’s low 70s for my American friends). The only disturbance on the water was the occasional duck, or seagull. As I sat there enjoying my coffee and reading my Kindle a few more people came to sit down. A family settled nearby and I couldn’t help but wonder if they were celebrating Thanksgiving by having the last picnic of the season.
On the way back home I noticed several men in their gardens, cleaning up the last of this year’s growth. They weren’t working hard. After all, it’s Sunday, but in spite of the balmy weather we all know there could be a cold snap any day now, and that it will stay cold. My neighbour is getting his snow tires put on this week.
Seeing those men in the gardens reminded me of the gardens that occupied the space around our family home in Ontario. Dad laughingly referred to the property out back as “the back forty”. Later on I learned that this expression wasn’t unique to him, but it always delighted me when he said it.
We had an amazing variety of food, but my memories are mainly of:
Raspberries: We had red raspberries and black raspberries. I liked the black ones best. They were hard to find until my father showed me how they hid under the leaves.
Strawberries: I remember these well. My sister and I were required to weed the rows, but we were also allowed to pick and sell strawberries to earn money for camp.
Potatoes: Dad made a game out of digging potatoes. “How many in this shovelful?” he’d ask and we’d all guess. I don’t remember if we picked them out of the soil, but if we didn’t, he missed out on six eager hands. The potatoes would go down in the basement on a raised platform. It was dark down there in the corner, and by the time spring came around the roots on the potatoes were longer than what was left of them.
Cantaloupe: Muskmelon, actually. We always had far too many. Like today’s zucchinis, they were hard to give away; everyone grew their own.
Corn: Fresh and sweet. One year my sister had a corn roast. That must have been shortly before we came out to British Columbia, because in my memory it was an adult occasion. I still love corn.
Asparagus: I’m not sure if Mom sold it on the side of the road or not. There was so much.
And lastly: Wild strawberries. Somewhere out in the ‘back forty’ was my secret patch of wild strawberries. The rest of the family pretended that they didn’t know where it was...or maybe they didn’t, but I always felt special when I brought a handful to my mother, who made a fuss over them. Even now, the taste lingers in my mouth.
We didn’t have the latest Nikes, cell phones, or computer games back then, but we had lots to eat; we had family. Life was good...and it still is. Happy Thanksgiving.