Willow Creek


Christmas Greetings 2017

I never remember the weather but I seem to recall that last year we were already deluged with snow and ice because I do recall putting down salt and sand before our annual tree decorating party.  Today we have our first skiff of snow.  The gardens lasted into November.

Of course the gardens had a late start with cold and wet weather.  I actually feel that I missed summer this year and I had promised myself that I was going to get lots of use from my bike and also the kayak at Green Lake.  Next year!  The weather gods willing.

I am happy to say that our lives continue in the patterns you have come to expect.  Long may this continue.  The only blip, but a good one, is that Clare had a bone spur/bunion removed from her foot and spent time lying about.  The good news is that the operation was not as extensive as expected and recovery was faster AND she can buy shoes again!!!  Friends came to visit and bring food and Rose came and “played Mother” for the first days all of which was a great help.  We discovered all the local shops that sell frozen prepared meals and it was (and still is) hard to get out of the habit of just defrosting a good meal.

At the same time J was working through the longest and most productive syrup year ever (31 days and 1100 litres).  The syrup co-op has plans to expand production in 2018 with more efficiencies and more taps. 

New Mexico was our destination in January.  It’s south so it should be  warm, right?  Wrong.  It’s a “high desert” as they say.  We didn’t go much north of Santa Fe because of the cold and snow.  Santa Fe was lovely and we extended our stay for the galleries, the food, a great movie theatre, nice hotel and the ease of moving about the city.  While there we drove to some of the Pueblos and were fortunate enough to arrive at one on a feast day and observed the community dancing and exchanging gifts. 

The highlight had to be the Carlsbad Caverns.  ENORMOUS underground caverns with all the stalactites and stalagmites you’ve seen in the pictures.   It was hard to believe we were so far underground and that that ground was…….hollow!  Furthermore the scientists figure there are additional caverns above the ones we were in.  How could this be!  I have to warn you that Carlsbad is 200 miles from anywhere, but it is worth the drive.
 California, the scene of wildfires (different ones still burn today) was our fall destination, San Francisco and area.  We took a fabulous walking tour of SF that took us to all the neighbourhoods and told us the history of what we were seeing.  Yes we went to Carmel and it’s hard to believe that it was 30 years ago that Clint Eastwood was Mayor.  The Central Valley didn’t appear lush but it is wide and flat, and irrigated, and full of fields with grapes and produce and farm workers.  And finally to Napa and Sonoma once the fires were under control.  We did see damage to fields and properties and everyone had a story.  When you see a grove of trees and 5 are charred black and one is still green it gives real meaning to “wildfire”.  The picture on the right is Clare standing in the hollow trunk of a giant redwood tree just north of San Francisco.
It’s always a year of friends - thank you!  And the more friends the better.  John Borley, a retired CBC colleague visited many times during the syrup season, as he has for the last several years, and his visits provided J with well needed time to collect up to 4,000 litres of sap on the heaviest days.  And then it was connecting with Ottawa friends, the Kerwins (in Ottawa and again in Erin), Audrey Bufton and also the Crowther/Marcoux Perso clan.  June Cassey celebrated her 90th birthday and that was a wonderful time for Clare to catch up with former labour colleagues.  Later in the spring we travelled to Almonte to see the show of photographs by Alan Mirabelli, one of J’s Concordia professors.  Despite the years they recognized each other.  It’s a fascinating show of black and white photographs of artists at work displayed beside what they were working on.  Quite splendid. 

Our garden is slowly getting smaller which is a good thing.  We had a great community greenhouse group (about 10 people) starting seeds in the spring and while we all stood there looking for sun and warmth to help with germination, voila!  it happened.  And then we all held our breath again waiting for plants to grow in the cool wet days of June and July.  Did I mention that I missed summer this year?  But they did and so we are energized (and well fed) and looking forward to doing it all again in 2018.

Two members of the Greenhouse group were looking for more garden space, so we have started a small scale community garden. Jay opened up about an acre in the front field with cover crops to reduce the weed pressure, so we will likely move the operation there next year and see if more people are looking for community garden space.

We stretched out our Stratford time and enjoyed more leisure time and I think J had more golf time.  Clare has started to golf although it’s going to take a long time before there is any consistency.  J is patient and encouraging and a private instructor helps.

John & Elaine Butcher were in Stratford for plays when we caught up with them for a meal and discussions about the state of the world.  And we attended the Induction Ceremony at the Canadian Museum Hall of Fame.  Roy “Doc” Halliday was inducted this year but several months later, sadly lost his life in an airplane accident.

And lots of dinners and lunches and get togethers which is all good, but never enough.

Just so you know we have started to clear out the barn.  “Do it while you can” is the motto.  We are not planning on leaving soon but all those loads to the landfills and recycling don’t get any easier.  J collected together enough copper pipe to make $75 this week.  Dinner out!

Jay is still involved in Erin Radio, our local community radio station. He organized the second year of the “Erin Roots” concert series at our local watering hole, The Busholme Inn. Erin Roots is a monthly roots/folk oriented concert series recorded for airplay on Erin Radio. Some great acts this year with an audience that is building over the months.

 And J was named a “Local Hero” by In The Hills Magazine this year for his community involvement.  https://www.inthehills.ca/2017/11/jay-mowat/. I think it’s deserving.  You can read the article for yourself.

Enough!  Just to say I do love hearing from everyone even when it’s only once a year.  So fun to reconnect and good to know that you are well, or to be able to send along a hug when the times are tough.  Clare is on FaceBook or you can always reach us through the website.

The best to you and your family in 2018.

Clare & J

And all the cats too.