Willow Creek


Christmas Greetings 2019

Wishing everyone health, happiness, laughter, good times today and for the years ahead.

For the last few years I have started off railing about politics or the environment.  More about those things later because I’m stopping for a moment to consider life and acknowledge how lucky we are, personally and to live in Canada.  I count myself so fortunate for J, our life in Erin, our friends both new and old, our home grown tomatoes (particularly those) and the opportunity and the space (!) to weave and rug hook and to work with colour and texture.

Weaving is particularly relevant since I haven’t had a warp on the loom since the spring and I am anxious to get one started!  I was fortunate to take a 3 day course from Jane Stafford this autumn.  She came to Ontario (she never does that) and this was the last person-to-person course she is going to teach.  She does have an online Guild so all is not lost.  What a fabulous opportunity and I came away with so many ideas and areas to explore.  “division of space”.  I’m certain this concept applies to more than weaving and art.  So simple and yet it offers up so many possibilities.

Enough with the philosophizing.

For those of you keeping up to date.  My (Clare) hip is FABULOUS.  I saw the surgeon for my one year appointment end of November.  Each day starting in the spring I could walk the property, garden forever, rake leaves, go to Toronto, walk up hills and I could go on.  For those of you who continue to live with daily pain I support you.  And I know that many of you are.  It doesn’t make life any easier.  Pain is tiring, debilitating and annoying.   We do what we can.

My thanks to Rose who came and “played Mother” for the first couple of weeks.  And our thanks to neighbours and greenhouse friends who brought meals, visited, took me to physio, walked with me and generally kept us operating.  It really is too funny when your walking exercise is 4 rounds of ALL the aisles of the local Valu-Mart and then home for a rest.  But you have no idea how many people J ran into while I was walking and the conversations that he had.

Enough about Clare.

The year always starts with maple syrup.  First the anticipation and then the reality.  Another record year.  Most of the “farmers” in our co-op now use lines rather than buckets as we always see in the old pictures.  There is less labour involved but it’s heavy work.   J continues to fire up the wood fired evaporator but has delegated other work to the co-op members. We produced 1400 litres over 5 weeks. Let us know if you need any maple.

And then we had a full greenhouse again this year. Those who follow this Christmas letter know that we opened up our heated greenhouse to the Erin community and 22 people started their backyard veggies in our facility, sharing watering duties and advice. It’s always exciting to see what everyone is growing and to wait for those first sprouts to poke up their heads.  We tried to keep our “crops” under control this year and did fairly well except for tomatoes.  We still grow entirely too, too many.  I know that J disagrees with that statement.  We will grow fewer tomatoes this year.  But the greenhouse is great and good camaraderie with local residents.

Golf is a preoccupation for both of us now.  J golfs pretty much all year since there is a virtual golf course in Guelph and it helps him keep up his game.  Clare got better this year thanks to new clubs and more lessons.  We golf together and J has golfing buddies.  It’s good fun and a chance to get outside and enjoy the day.  Clare only does carts. 

Unfortunately, The Upper Credit Fly Fishing Club that J joined in 2018 only had a few visits.  J is working on reconfiguring his schedule to take in more opportunities. He still gets four or five fish every visit.

J’s concert series, Erin Roots, finished another successful year (we broke even!) and started up the fifth season in the fall. There seems to be a significant increase in the number of roots/blues concerts in the area with a new series in Belfountain. But if it gives J an excuse to wear his kilt (see photo page) that’s fine by us. In the photo, J is with the fiddle player for the Scottish band Cantrip.

And with better weather in 2020 (please?) perhaps we will get more time at Green Lake.  There was a major phragmites effort this year (those beautiful tall feathery grasses in all the ditches and considered the most invasive plant species in Canada).  J, Clare and everyone else at the lake used every ounce of our being over a day to clear the lake.  I think we all spent the next 3 days lying on the couch.  I don’t remember when I was so played out.  Thank heavens we had hired help and a few younger Green Lakers to help.  Heavy work and many hours.  It’s a mighty struggle.  If you remember Purple Loosetrife in Ontario, it was nothing compared to phragmites.  And they are everywhere.  J pointed them out when we were in Italy.  The fight will continue in 2020 I am certain although I think we oldsters have recognized that we need to subcontract.

Another summer in Stratford.  Nothing wrong with that.  We took RV #1, saw plays, golfed, relaxed, visited and then bought a “new to us” RV and did a swap.  Once again 29’, which is small for an RV these days, but with a larger bedroom and newer with fewer problems.  Came with an electric fireplace (can’t think of when we would use it), flat screen TV which is as large as the one at home but not certain when we will use it.  And a little more living space.  It will do us well in Stratford in 2020.  And we’ve already booked our tickets for 2020.

And the long awaited holiday.  A river cruise!  J gave me a river cruise for my birthday but we didn’t realize that you need to plan really in advance.  So two years later there we were on the Rhine (Leuftner-cruises).  Worry free, relaxing travel from Switzerland to Amsterdam over 8 days.  Everything was laid on.  Food was fabulous (four course dinners).  We took all the walking tours everywhere we stopped.  The only complaint is that you run on someone else’s schedule.  But would we have gone to Hoorn otherwise?  What a charming little village and we would have liked to have spent more time walking the streets and enjoying the ambiance.

There were several villages of 1500-2000 people where we docked and each one of them have 1.5-2 million visitors between April and October each year.  We live in a small village of 3,500 and I can’t imagine that many more people here for 6 months.  We complain (loud and long) about the numbers of people who drive their motorcycles/bicycles up and down our hilly roads  during the season and then those who come to enjoy the fall colours and block the roads. How the folks along the Rhine deal with it is a mystery.  We’ve lived here long enough that we know which roads to avoid. Maybe they do too.

And we did London for a week in advance with a visit with Graeme and Gil for a day and a couple of performances at the National Theatre. We stayed in a flat in the canal district called Little Venice. And then 4 days in Amsterdam at the end of the cruise.

My regret from this tour was that I didn’t eat more bread.  I don’t generally eat bread for all the reasons you can imagine.  But the bread on the ship and then in Amsterdam was so flavourful, dense, crusty and fresh that it was amazing.  I needed to have clued in earlier.  And we walked so many steps that I actually lost weight on the trip (but I found it again - rats).

Cats (Callie, inside and Blackie outside) are good.

So folks that’s the year in 3 pages. Love to hear your news.  To know how you and family are doing.  What you are thinking and what the future holds.

The best from us to you.