It’s not easy being grrrrreen …

07-23-17A

… even when it is “Gratifying Green”.

The weekend is nearly over much to my chagrin (yours too I’m sure).

Unfortunately, Saturday started out soggy, putting a kibosh on the morning walk, but, it gave me time to get a head start on my basement painting project.

You may recall my unfortunate plumbing disaster in June where the pipe beneath the laundry tub corroded and fell apart.  Water was pooling beneath the tub and trickling toward the drain.  It was a sickening hot weekend and my A/C hose drains into the laundry tub.  That most-unfortunate event had me calling the plumber pronto.  While the plumber and his helper were here, I was told the basement drain was a little clogged, but he cleaned it out with a screwdriver and said it was good for now.  But, I decided to be proactive and have them clean it out properly.  This necessitated the use of a jackhammer to drill down two feet to completely clear the drain.

The basement floor is tiled and the jackhammer destroyed some of the tiles, so I was left with a donut-shaped mound of cement in the middle of the laundry room.  It looked pretty bad.  More tiles needed to be taken out to even it up before painting, resulting in a 4 X 4 foot bare-looking area.

I had to wait 30 days for the cement to completely cure, so, in the meantime I got all my supplies together.  First, I got paint chips and tried to match the pale green and beige-flecked tiles as best I could, so I picked a color that was a cross between sea salt and pastel green.  As you know, paint manufacturers have a multitude of colors available, and a corresponding, sometimes cutesy name for each hue.  The color I chose was “Gratifying Green”.

The clerk at the paint store recommended using a roller, but I said I preferred a brush as it was a relatively small area.  “No, you must use a roller to get a better result; a 4 ½-inch roller would be just perfect for your job” she said.   So, despite my protestations about preferring a brush, I left the store with not only my paint and masking tape, but a tray, roller frame and and a four-pack of roller covers.

In anticipation of this project, I was ruminating on how I was going to do this multiple-coat paint job.  Would I use a kneeling pad, or sit on a short stool?  Either way, my lack of flexibility and wild imagination, had me conjuring up several likely scenarios.  I pictured myself needing help to get back to a standing position since it was smack in the middle of the laundry room, especially if, God forbid, I should see a crawling insect zip past me and had no way to scramble to my feet quickly.

I grumbled about this impending project to my friend Evelyn, whose husband Tim is a professional interior/exterior painter.  She suggested I get a long-handled pole or jerry-rig a long stick to the handle of the roller.  “Good idea” I thought “why didn’t the clerk tell me to do this?”  (Probably because Evelyn and I are the same age and the Sherwin-Williams clerk was about twenty years old.)

Saturday morning’s weather was pretty ugly, but there I was, removing the stringy-yarn mop head from the handle to create a makeshift, long-handled roller frame pole.  Now, to bind the roller to the pole.  Well … old pantyhose didn’t work, and neither did half of the roll of masking tape that I bought to tape off the tile floor for the painting project, so … I decided just to bend over and roll the paint on that way.

Problem solved.

Now, others in the past tried their best to persuade me to use a roller instead of  a brush for a painting project, and I merely  brushed off their comments.  I once repainted the garage door with two coats of paint, with half the neighbors stopping by to tell me that had I used a roller, I would be sitting and sipping a cold drink, not to mention salvaging most of my long holiday weekend.

But, this time I was willing to give it the old college try.

Okay, I’ll concede – they were right.  I was finished that 4 X 4 foot project in record time.  I only had to take a small, spongy gizmo to apply the paint around the metal drain area.  Then, I could have a snack and busy myself with housework upstairs until I could return for the second coat after about six hours’ drying time.

Except first, I needed to take the roller off the frame.

How difficult could that be, right?

I struggled with it, pulling, pushing and prodding the ^%$# thing to extricate that nappy object from the roller frame.  I was wearing vinyl gloves to keep my hands from turning  a pale shade of green, so I WAS able to grip the roller tight to pull it off.  But, nope, it was stuck on there.  No amount of tugging and no magic button would release the roller from the frame.

Grrrrr.

Well, as Kermit the Frog would bemoan “it’s not easy bein’ green” and, though I realize that I was really “green” about roller painting, this was ridiculous!

I must admit a few choice words for the people who suggested using a roller, as well as the manufacturer of the handle and roller itself escaped my mouth.

Next, I tried rinsing that nappy roller under the warm water, thinking I could grab it with my ungloved hand, but all that did was send paint splats all over the wall, floor and into the laundry tub.

I threw the contraption in the trash, vowing next time to listen to myself.

So, I got two coats of paint applied yesterday and was downstairs today at 5:15 a.m. applying coat number three.  I don’t care if it was a slow and rather painstaking process, I told myself “I’ve got this!”

I peeled off my vinyl gloves and hurried upstairs for coffee and breakfast, to get going on a walk.  I took the car and drove to the Park so I could walk two complete laps, then cool off in the car when I finished.  There was a bit of a breeze and it was tolerable so the car and I both got four miles today.

While I walked in the Park, someone had already “rocked the Park” as evident from this painted rock at the cement precipice.  Its ghastly looking “face” (also pictured above) mirrored mine right around the same time yesterday.

07-23-17B

I put the finishing touches on my own paint job when I returned from my walk and declared it done.

By the way … I finished the remaining three coats with a one-inch brush that I had saved from a prior paint job.   I did not struggle unduly with this small brush and it looks just as nice as the first roller coating of paint.  (However, the fact that it took me twenty minutes to straighten up to my full 5 foot, 9 inches height at each successive painting job is another story.)

Life … sometimes we gotta just grrrrrin and bear it.

The color is glaringly bright in the dim-colored laundry room, but, I figure I had a 50/50 chance of matching the color to the tiles.  The paint swatch looked perfect, but in hindsight a beigey shade would have worked better.

Using Sherwin-Williams color “Easy Green” would have been a tad easier on the eyes.

Using a paint brush for the entire job would have been easier on the pocketbook, not to mention the nerves.

But, the color I picked was “Gratifying Green” and I am SO gratified this project is finished.

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Merrily we roll along …

07-21-17

It was another sizzling Summer morning, and twenty-five or so hot and sweaty humans dotted the asphalt trail at Council Point Park.  This sultry “Ozone Action Day” didn’t stop any of us from getting in our daily exercise.

I’m on a roll because I saw my Park pal Donna, pictured above, for the third time this month.  Though we are practically neighbors, sometimes months can go by, until, like two ships passing at night, we meet up on the Park perimeter path again.

I guess you could say she rolled back into my morning routine a week or so ago.  I caught sight of her on the opposite side of loop #1, as she moved along the path at breakneck speed.  So, I had my camera ready for when she caught up with me.  Just as soon as I heard the whirring of the rollerblade wheels right behind me, I whirled around, and, when she waved, I said “Gotcha!” and snapped her picture.  I was not power walking, but clipping along fairly quickly, so Donna slowed down to accommodate my pace so we could carry on a conversation.  I still had to huff and puff a little to keep up with her, plus it was hot and humid as well.

We had not connected in a while because she has changed her schedule, opting instead to do her ‘blading or bike riding at the Park in the afternoon, so we caught up with each other’s news as we travelled along the perimeter path.

Today we were on the same schedule once again – get out and get ‘er done before the weather became too unbearable to be outdoors.  Afterward, we visited a little in the parking lot as we got ready to depart the Park.  Donna was feeling proud as she just rollerbladed eight miles in one hour.  I, too, was feeling pretty good since I took my car for a spin this morning and left it in the Park’s lot, then did four miles in the same amount of time.  We congratulated one another.  I told Donna that a few years ago I had set a goal of walking five miles in under one hour after hearing Governor Snyder completed the annual five-mile Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk in 55 minutes.  To date, that goal has not yet been met by Yours Truly.  Donna’s response was “he must have very long legs or take extra-large strides – that’s a lot of miles to cover in 55 minutes!”  I felt better when she said that as I was wondering if I would ever achieve that goal.

Goals became our next topic, and I said that as of today I would be at the 440-miles-walked-so-far-in-2017 mark and I needed to get to 755 miles to top last year’s mileage.  She waved me off saying “you’ve got plenty of time to do that” and, then she told me that she used to set goals with her biking and ‘blading, only to supercede them early in the year, so she set higher goals, but eventually gave it up because it took away all the fun of the exercise, if she was always trying to one-up herself.

That was some food for thought, so momentarily I decided that perhaps I needed to quit beating myself up for all the walks missed thus far in 2017, for circumstances beyond my control.

But, I still want to beat that 755-mile marker at year end nonetheless.  J

Our mouths were going a mile a minute and our legs sought to keep up.  Donna and I are the same age, and, since we are both advocates of exercise and healthy eating, our conversation was peppered with whole-grain bread finds, oatmeal topping tips, nutrition and exercise.  She regaled me with her tales of yoga because she practices yoga, plus takes and teaches classes in it as well.

I complained about feeling like a Mack truck ran over me after my Fourth of July weekend spent in the basement, so I asked Donna if she does stretches before ‘blading and biking, and she said “no – never” but she quickly added that doing yoga helps.  “Pfft yoga!” I said, then told her about the one yoga class I took eons ago.  Even though it was an introductory class,  I was the only novice, so I was hopelessly behind everyone else for every move or pose and just couldn’t catch up.  So, after the third class, I quit and got my money back.  In a show of bravado of how I could learn yoga and Pilates on my own, I took that refund money and hustled over to Best Buy where I bought a portable DVD player, a book entitled “Yoga For Dummies” and a couple of DVDs on yoga moves.   My mother, always an authority on how I routinely got enthralled with an idea and never totally followed through with it, cautioned me to return those items to Best Buy because I’d never use them.   I recall that my response to her suggestion, was I simply rolled my eyes at her in a dismissive manner, since I was confident I would excel at yoga … once I applied myself, that is.

Well, it was a long and hot Summer that year, so I deferred the yoga regimen to the Fall, then the Winter, then ….

It’s been years since I have even thought of that brief fascination with yoga, until my basement cleaning endeavor these past few weeks.

Indeed, I have found a treasure trove of items representing the various phases of my life – school, entertainment, travel, creativity and … exercise.

The “found” exercise equipment gave me a giggle and I shared that story with Donna, who also had to chuckle, because by the time you get to your sixties, you’ve done a few stupid things along the way that you don’t mind sharing with others because they can relate.

I have many Rubbermaid containers downstairs and went through each of them.  I discovered one such container, chock full of long-neglected exercise gear, and, I had to shake my head, then ask myself “what in the world were you keeping these for – your “golden years”?

Here was that DVD player, book, tapes, and even my yoga mat, all squeezed into a powder blue container that I had not opened in decades, and what do you know, they were all still shrink-wrapped as well.  Guess Mom had me pegged, didn’t she?

And, there were a few gym-like gems in that Rubbermaid container as well, like the colorful vinyl-coated barbells, in various weights.  Plus, soft weights that you strap on your wrists and ankles using Velcro closures.  How nice, but they weren’t doing much good stacked in this tub were they?

But wait … there’s more.

Tucked into the recesses of that Rubbermaid container, were my old, scuffed-up ballet slippers.  Yes, ballet was also a passing fancy in my life for a while, perhaps during my late twenties.  I  took ballet at a local studio, after being inspired by a couple of coworkers who shimmied into their scoop-neck leotards, tights and leg warmers to perform barre work in the ladies bathroom lounge every day on their lunch hour.   Using the back of the couch like a barre to brace themselves, and watching their moves in the horizontal mirror, these petite ballerina wannabees were the epitome of grace.  I was so inspired and in awe of them, that I got my money and gear together, and, under the tutelage of Bertha Ray, I, too, learned and practiced pirouettes, plies and barre work.  Every Tuesday night, I pulled my hair into a sleek bun, donned a leotard and tights, and showed up at Bertha’s Ray’s studio to become lithe, and achieve flexibility through the rigors of ballet.  Oh sure … those coworkers made it look effortless, but at 5 feet 9 inches tall, I towered over my teacher and felt like an Amazon next to her, not to mention that I was truly the exact opposite of graceful.  My toes ached in those teensy black ballet slippers and my shins cramped up, so, after a few months that novelty also wore off, and so ended the ballet lessons.

I recounted all these grand finds and their memories to Donna and she laughed.  We agreed that youth is a blessing, and, while growing old is sometimes fraught with illness, aches and pains, or even sadness or heartache, you become comfortable enough that you can laugh off those young and dumb episodes and even poke a little fun at yourself as well.

 

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 Just for Kicks …

1 -Looky here

The promised a.m. drive-time storm hadn’t arrived yet, so timidly I ventured out.  Once again, I strayed to my usual stomping grounds, Council Point Park.

The sun was high above, but looking like a pale imitation of itself, and, it certainly was not as bright, nor as vibrant, as a glossy yellow bag of peanut m&m’s.

I know you shouldn’t play favorites, but, I will confess that I have a favorite squirrel at Council Point Park.  He lives in a tree by a blue metal bench, and he always come bounding over to greet me, much like a beloved pet does when you return to the house after a long day at work, or even just a simple errand.

Thus, this peanut pal has won my affection, so unabashedly, the sentimental fool that I am, I dispense a few more peanuts to him than I do to the other squirrels (which no doubt accounts for that “undying love and affection” by him).

About  a week or so ago, I got the bright idea that my favorite furry critter might like some peanut m&m’s for a special treat.

But first, I Googled around to ensure  that this candy with the chocolate that “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” would not be dangerous to him.  Nope, the general consensus was it was a treat and there were several YouTube videos of squirrels happily chomping m&m’s (albeit with bad manners since they had their mouths open), which confirmed to me that it was A-OK to give them to him.

So, I picked up two packages of peanut m&m’s, just in case some of his brethren showed up, and, yes, I even got one package in the “Share Size”.

2 - Share size

Once at Council Point Park, I rounded the first bend, and, there he was, sitting on the blue bench, smack in the middle of his domain.  As I approached the bench, he ran lickety-split over to the path to greet me.  I dug out bag #1 from my fanny pack, while he impatiently danced on the tip of my shoe and looked up at me.  “Wait ‘til you see what I have for you” I told him and jiggled the bag to announce the treat was almost ready.  I ripped the package open and soon a half bag’s worth of those brightly colored nuggets were strewn across the pathway.  Ha, ha … well, I could just read his mind, the gears churning as he tried to figure out what these misshapen objects were, and, whether he should try one.  He was confused, but still sniffed appreciatively, then looked up at me for guidance, or, at the very least, to say “thanks, but no thanks – I’ll take ballpark peanuts if you don’t mind!”

3 - He likes them

While this experiment/photo opportunity seemed to be a no-brainer, I had discounted the fact that perhaps he was more of a meat-and-potatoes-kind-of-squirrel, and would have just preferred plain old peanuts, and not these strange dots, despite their dazzling candy-coated allure.  My thinking was “who could resist m&m’s?”

So, reluctantly, I gave in to him, then reached into my Ziploc bag and shook out about a half-dozen of peanuts which I intermingled with the m&m’s on the pathway.

4 - OK if you insist

“Ahhh, that’s more like it” he seemed to say.  He grabbed a peanut and dashed off to bury that treat.  But, curiosity got the better of him, and he soon hurried back.   I figured he’d hone in on the rest of the peanuts, and ignore the m&m’s, but, in a most-charitable manner, likely so he would not offend his benefactor, I watched as he grabbed just one m&m with a long claw and pushed it into his mouth.  Crunch, crunch, crunch … and he didn’t spit it out!  Success!!  I kind of felt like I was reliving the old Life cereal commercial, where the two boys watched to see if Mikey liked that new cereal or not, and when he did, they cried out “he likes it!”

Well, those first few m&m’s must’ve passed muster with my furry friend, as he abandoned the peanuts altogether and finished off a few more m&m’s.  He then snatched a pair of green ones and confidently took them “to go” with a look back at me, as if to say “thanks for the treat, but I thought Squirrel Appreciation Day was back on January 21st?”

5 - I like the green ones better

Sure, I left a little litter behind, but it joins the bottled water empties and energy bar wrappers that one sees when there is a bit of a breeze, and besides, … you know what?  Sometimes tricks and kicks aren’t just for kids.

 

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So, how hot is it?

07-19-17

Though our little heat wave certainly does not rival that of the Southwestern states, it sure is hot and sticky out there.  When I set out on my walk this morning, the temperature was already 73 degrees.  While 73 may be a good number for my graduation year from high school, it’s not too pleasant for walking, especially when you tack on some humidity.  But, thankfully it was overcast which helped to keep the sun’s hot rays at bay.

Once I arrived at Council Point Park, I sought out the shady side loop first to cool off a bit.  Almost immediately, I heard a lot of plops and splashes in the water as I travelled the perimeter path that runs parallel to the Ecorse Creek.  Hmmmm.  This is the more-scenic portion of the Park, and, at some points, the bushes and bulrushes are so dense, you can’t even see the water.  So, when I hear big splashes,  my mind gets to imagining over-sized turtles slipping off logs, bullfrogs leaping off lily pads, or, maybe  even muskrats emerging from beneath the surface and splish-splashing away.  I hear these noises lurking behind the canopy of foliage, but know nothing of their origin … it’s a little eerie sometimes.

I got my steps in and hurried on my way.

Yesterday, I was happy to discover that Pagel Avenue was finally free of construction after almost a year’s time.  The City began this massive project last Summer and worked until around Thanksgiving.  When the construction resumed in the Spring of 2017, workers, earth-moving machinery and cement trucks have monopolized nearly three City blocks.  The street was cordoned off and the sidewalks were always mud-covered or missing, and it was quite messy, so I began detouring my walk along Memorial Park.  Now, Pagel Avenue is an easier and quicker option to get home when I have dawdled at the Park too long on a workday, or the weather takes a turn for the worse.

So, on that first trip home along Pagel Avenue, what did I find, but some worthy chalk art to share with you.  It is that unmistakable response to the question: “So, how hot is it?”  and is featured in the accompanying photo.  Though it may not be hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk in Southeast Michigan, here is a realistic sunny-side up egg created in chalk.

And, … yes, I was careful to step around it so it didn’t break the yolk!

Stay cool.

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Yikes!  Those ol’ bully birds.

mean and orney

When I left for my walk, there was a stiff breeze and the sun was slowly filtering through a dark and dappled sky.  I even hesitated when shutting the door, since a quick glance at that gray sky gave me cause to pause whether to lug along an umbrella or not.  I opted to be an optimist, but, in retrospect, I could have used that umbrella on the trip home, since a bird behaving badly decided to use my clothes as target practice … if you know what I mean.

The cooler temps and breeze sure felt good, and I even had a few goosebumps as I wended my way down to Council Point Park.  Within a few minutes after my arrival, the sun suddenly put in a commendable appearance and the entire sky lit up in just a matter of moments.

Several times the subject of birds has crept into my Monday.

I saw that as a “sign” of sorts, so I decided today’s blog post topic would be about bully birds.

Last night, after I shut down my computer, my friend Marge sent me a video which I viewed early this morning.  That video was about “Canuck the Crow” who is terrorizing Vancouver, B.C. with its scary antics.   In one neighborhood, the mail can’t get delivered because Canuck dive-bombs to peck the mail carriers.  He also likes to swoop, then swipe food, and otherwise enjoys disturbing the peace at Mickey D’s … hey, this critter is fond of French fries.  Canuck is full of swagger and strut and his antics are well documented.  He even has a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, or you can read about him here:   http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canuck-the-crow-causes-kerfuffle-at-vancouver-mcdonald-s-1.3478270

I commented on Marge’s post that now I had to worry about pesky crows, just like Pit bulls, when venturing outside.

Many years ago, the neighbors across the street had a family of Blue Jays living in one of their tall maple trees.  We loved watching those brightly colored Jays weaving in and out of the trees and flying around the neighborhood.  But, one day, a bald-headed man passed below that maple tree where the Jays had built a nest which was filled with little ones.  The male Jay suddenly swooped down, and pecked the man’s head with a vengeance.  This gentleman had blood dripping from his head and fell to the ground.  Someone called for help, EMS arrived and whisked him away.  What provoked that Blue Jay to wage war so savagely on this poor man who merely walked down the street?  It is anyone’s guess what threat that Jay perceived.

I like birds – don’t get me wrong, even if one ceremoniously left his droppings on me while I was walking home from the Park today … no, I wasn’t amused.

Thinking about these two wild and wily birds and my little “incident this morning propelled me to expound on the story about the Red-Winged Blackbird at the Park, who tends to get a little too big for his britches sometimes.

First, this bird is fearless.  While the other Red-Winged Blackbirds are content to sit in the trees or atop the bulrushes, and you hardly know they are there, that is until you hear their loud and unmistakable call, this fellow is about as cantankerous as the Canada geese.

People can identify Canuck the Crow because he has a bright-red tag on his foot, so, I know you may be thinking that I am merely guessing it is the same Red-Winged Blackbird who not does not discriminate from bullying the squirrels or the Canada Geese.  No, I recognize this bird who is a small and mighty force to be reckoned with at Council Point Park.

When I scatter peanuts along the path and this bird sees me, he does this swoop-and-scoop maneuver wherein he places himself in the center of the peanuts, grabs what he wants and flies away.  The squirrels are flabbergasted since it happens so fast, but, if he lingers, they back off and wait, because they know this bird is not greedy and won’t come back for seconds.

However, on a walk along the perimeter path in late May, I witnessed this Red-Winged Blackbird, who, from his perch on a tree branch in the marshy area of the Creek, got irritated with the goose family who paraded through the tangled grassy area as they returned from paddling in the water.

I watched his demeanor change in the course of a less than a minute’s time.

He went from downright mean and ornery (as pictured above), to opening his sharp beak …

open beak

… then pointing his whole body down in “attack mode” and then he swooped down on the hapless goose.

preparing to attack

That blackbird began to attack the lead goose, probably the male, who was simply guiding his little family to land from the water’s edge.

whole family

He pecked mercilessly at that Canada Goose, who in turn waged some histrionic behavior of his own, hissing and wing-flapping to bat that blackbird away.

The Red-Winged Blackbird returned to his tree where he sat, clearly all puffed up with importance.

puffed up with importance

Here, he rested with a few minutes, then zoomed down, once again landing onto the back of the goose, aggravating it even more.  Though I was initially fascinated with the interplay, I then put the camera away and left the scene, as it looked as if it was every bird for himself and I didn’t want to witness a bloody massacre.

This Red-Winged Blackbird is about as feisty and gutsy as Canuck the Crow.  Whether walking down the street, or venturing into the nature nook, I now know I have to watch my back for more than one reason!

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Mugginess ruled the morn …

07-16-17

Today’s humidity was oppressive, but I mustered on – must get more steps in!  It’s all about the miles and adding steps in between bouts of wacky weather, or these frequent hot and humid mornings.  But, I try to stay mindful, that come January or February, we’d give anything for this heat and humidity, while we freeze and complain about the temps, ice and snowy weather.  Are all Michiganders malcontents, or is just me when it comes to the weather?

There were very few people out this morning … perhaps the muggy and buggy morn kept them hunkered down at home.  It was so quiet you could hear the cicadas sing.  I saw these small pine cones hanging from a branch and wondered if it was dew or sap dripping from them.  A closer inspection suggested the latter, but I didn’t want to touch those pendulous drops and get my hands all sticky and then use the camera.

I shortened my walk, not just due to the tropical-feeling air, but my basement chores also had me scurrying home a little earlier than I would have liked.  Yup, the basement beckoned me.  I could imagine the big red shop vac welcoming me and whispering in my ear “hurry, come finish this job Linda, and your reward will be orderliness and harmony once again.”

Sounds like a plan to me.

 

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Pickin’ and Grinnin’ …

07-15-17A

It was picture perfect this morning, and I was anxious to get out and enjoy a long walk, before reluctantly heading back to deal with the basement doldrums.  On this third weekend of the decluttering and cleaning odyssey, I am still making progress, and predict I will be done with everything downstairs by month end.  Yeah!  Maybe in August, I can then reclaim my weekends for some much-needed “me time”.

I packed extra peanuts to feed my furry and feathered friends.  You might recall, that I’ve told you about one Red-Winged Blackbird who dive-bombs for peanuts just as soon as I place them on the perimeter path for the squirrels.  Nervy … yes, a little.  But, I’ll save the story about that peanut-grabbing bird for another post.

I hustled down to Council Point Park while enjoying the slightly cooler and less-humid morning.  Can we please keep this weather for longer than one day?  Those high dew points this week, compounded by the rain, made my steps dwindle significantly.

The perimeter path was crowded, and each person who waved “hello” also had a comment about the beautiful morning.  I chatted with a few of the regular walkers and tendered peanuts as I moved along the pathway.

On the second loop, I spotted those same two women picking black raspberries from a bush.  They gestured to come over, then pointed to the bush to show how plentiful the berries were.  They had no buckets or bags, and, just as before, they were picking those ripe berries and popping them right into their mouths.

No one joined them, so I imagine they had the entire bush full of berries to themselves.  The second time around, on that same loop, those ladies were still harvesting black raspberries and I could see their berry-stained mouths and palms.

07-15-17B

Once again, I wondered what keeps the Park critters from enjoying those berries?  This berry bush, as you see in the picture above, is tucked between other foliage and off the beaten path, so perhaps the critters’ eyes do not hone in on these edible treats.

After I passed the berry-pickin’ women, I thought of three generations of women in my own family.

My great grandparents owned a farm in Ariss, Ontario, a rural area near Guelph.  My grandmother used to tell tales about “farm life” back when she was growing up.  Her father would chastise her and her sister for naming the chickens and treating them like pets.   Sometimes, in a rather heartless move, he would ask Minnie, Margaret and Loretta to help him choose which chickens would be on the Sunday dinner table, as he stood there, axe in hand.  The young girls would run back into the house in tears whenever this happened.

My grandmother would also tell stories of how her mom would line up black currant coffeecakes along the ledge in the back kitchen to cool, and the flies would be buzzing around, and you couldn’t tell if there were flies or black currants on that cake.  (As a germaphobe, I’d have a real problem with that!)

Also, my grandmother used to relay tales of how her mom would send her and her eight siblings out every Summer morning to pick berries.  Each child would lug a metal bucket, and, when it was prime berry-pickin’ time, and the bushes were laden with berries, the children took a hearty lunch with them, so they could pick every last berry and not waste precious time traipsing through the fields back to the house for lunch.

But, no matter what type of berries were hanging heavy on those bushes, the Klein kids knew better than to enjoy those ripe, plump berries while picking them.  Instead, they filled their respective metal buckets and obediently presented them to their mom, who would bake pies and cobblers, plus “put up” jams and jellies for all Winter.

As each of my grandmother’s siblings left the nest and bought their own farm, or moved to the Big City, a/k/a Toronto, they all returned with their families to the homestead every August to help bring in the crops, and, eventually it fell on their children to assume the monumental task of collecting the berries.

This faded photograph is my mom with her grandparents Andrew and Catherine Klein at their farm in the early 50s.

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For years, Mom would hanker after red currant pie, because those berries were in season and plentiful when her family visited the farm every August for two weeks.  So, we scoured the produce markets Downriver, and finally found one that carried a few dozen pints throughout the growing season.  Well, that discovery made Mom berry happy, so we’d beat a regular path to Andy’s Farm Market in Southgate to load up on red currants, so she could bake and enjoy her favorite pie.

 

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