Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Give us this day, our daily bread... and the start of Chapter 19.

We have had a couple of very cool days here in Manitoba.  Yesterday I actually donned a pair of slacks for the first time in about 4 months.  I have pretty much been living in shorts and Capri's, and of course sandals. I toyed with the idea of putting real shoes on my feet this morning, but in the end, left home with sandals.

When I got to work I noticed that many of my co-workers were in the same state of mind.  Black slacks, shoes, and jackets and sweaters... fall?  You'd think so today!!

Still it is only August, and harvest time is just around the corner here... the farmers markets are full of fresh produce, fresh preserves, and honey.  Soon the BC apples will be in the stores...  it's a time of plenty, and traditionally the time of "Putting away, or Putting down" for the winter months ahead.

My mother canned everything from fruits and vegetables to chicken.  My parents had a huge garden, and about this time of the year, she hauled out all her quart sealers and rubber rings and got busy canning.  I never knew what a store bought pickle tasted like until I was about 13!  I miss those days of walking in the door and smelling cooked fruit, or pickle brine.  About the only thing I don't miss is the smell from the shredded horseradish that she used in her beet relish.. now there is a memory!

Soon it will be fall in our story as well.  The difference being that the crops are pretty much non -existent, gardens have dried up and disappeared - if they even grew in the first place.  Some root crops such as turnips,  were about the only produce that actually survived the dust bowl of the 1930's... and this became the staple that kept many families from going hungry.

So lets give thanks for our bounty... and enjoy the foods of this season...

Chapter 19

It was a glorious spring.  The warm dry weather assisted the busy farmers to complete the seeding of their crops in record time.  All about, nature bloomed bright and new and beautiful, and everyone, even the small children were buoyed with the promise of the summer ahead.  
For the children who attended school it meant the end of the school year and months of summer freedom, as school would not resume until after the fall harvest had been completed.  For the youngest children it meant having their older siblings home for the full long summer days ahead.  It meant adventures, picnics, baseball games, horseback riding and all the joys that were withheld during the confinement of winter.
For Karl, the changing season meant an opportunity to repair and build his buildings, fences, roads, and equipment, all the while keeping a watch full eye on his fields of growing grain that would hopefully make him enough money to get his family through yet another year.  
Emilie was obsessed with her garden, her chicks and goslings, which had hatched successfully and were now penned within a small enclosure by the barn.  She did not care that Karl complained about having to build a hen house, she did not care that the weeds in her garden grew more prolific than her vegetables, and she didn’t care that by the time she fell into bed each night she was more exhausted than she had ever remembered feeling – she was a farm woman now, and the warm air and sunshine inspired her imaginings and her activities.
The long days rolled one into another and even with the enormous work that remained to be accomplished, the large household of persons that lived and worked together became more of a family with every passing day.
With the warm weather upon them the other Bell children often rode to Karl’s home to be with their siblings, and more times than not, spent not only their days with Karl’s family, but their evenings and nights too.  It became common practice to have eight or ten people at the supper table every night, and the extra woolen blankets that had been used as a cushion for Emilie’s precious eggs, were now put to use as make-shift beds made up on the floor, on the nights when the other Bell children stayed the night.
George with the help of Karl and Frederich planted his father’s fields, with the understanding that the profits, if any, would go into an account for the Bell Children.  
George, who had just turned sixteen years of age, argued that any money that was left over after the sale of his father’s crops should divided between Karl and Frederich and used to help feed and clothe his brothers and sisters.  He realized the burden his family was placing upon both families, and he anguished over the correct way to repay Karl and Frederich’s kindness.  As George assumed the role of father to his younger siblings, he was distressed to find that he was angrier with his own father than he would have ever thought possible.  How could his Dad neglect them so?  Why couldn’t his father get over the loss of his Mother, and return to be the father that the family needed so much?  Did he not know that they all grieved not only the loss of their home and their mother, but also the loss of the father who had always seemed a pillar of strength through all the hardships the family had endured in the past?  
George, burdened and confused knew that it was now his responsibility to keep his family together as best he could.  He thanked God everyday for Emilie, who had opened Karl’s home to all of them, and even though she was not a mother herself, opened her heart to them and loved them all as if they had been born to her and not another woman.  If he were older he would marry her himself, he thought many times as he lay awake at night and wondered what would become of his family.  Karl Wright was a nice man, but he was as stupid as a post, when it came to affairs of the heart.  Everyone could see how much he loved Emilie, so why didn’t he just marry her?  
George no longer wanted to be a farmer like his father, and Karl Wright; no, after reading about the war, his obsession had become the sky.  He was going to leave this farm some day, and he was going to fly planes – he didn’t care where or when, but he was going to make it happen, somehow.  

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