Willow Creek


Christmas Greetings 2016

December 10th and it is finally beginning to look like Christmas!  It’s cold enough (just below 0’C and thankfully NOT as cold as the Prairies which are -44’C right now) and there was fresh snow again this morning.  Enough snow to make everything look lovely but not enough to make for treacherous driving.

Last weekend I participated in the annual Art of Giving, a sale sponsored by a woodturning friend that involved 10 local artists.  There is nothing like a deadline to make me focussed and I have been focused for many months throughout the year doing what I most enjoy - playing with colour and creating tea towels and rag rugs and placements and runners and on it goes.  J always thinks I work too hard but when you are doing something you enjoy then it’s not work.  And I’m already thinking about my 2017 collection and the patterns and colours.  Anxious to get started again.

I think that J works too hard at maple syrup but he disagrees because he enjoys the challenge of dealing with large quantities and discovering new methods and efficiencies.    There were a record 31 boiling days in 2016 up from 19 boiling days in 2015.  A combination of different weather patterns that extended the season, some of our co-operative moving from buckets to lines and an increase in the number of trees tapped. The result was a haul of 850 litres of finished syrup split beaten Willow Creek and the five farmers who tapped their trees and provided sap. We still have some bulk syrup in the freezer.

And our greenhouse group grew as well in 2016.  First it’s always nice to meet more neighbours and second it’s nice to see the greenhouse used to its capacity.  We all start our own seeds and grow them on but everyone cheers on the efforts of others, babies the ones who are lagging behind and celebrates the success of the first tomato flower in the greenhouse.  We will carry on the practice in 2017.

J is now Co-Chair of the Town Sustainability and Environment Committee and this keeps him busy researching government practice and best practices.  He is also on the Green Lake Environment Committee.  J innocently volunteered to help us deal with the thick weeds growing from the lake bottom and found himself dragged in.  Phragmites (pronounced frag-mighties) are the current topic.  If you travel in rural areas you may have noticed tall stalks with lovely dark brown fronds waving in the breeze.  Invasive species.  VERY invasive and have taken over major waterways.  We even found it in Italy.

Oh yes, we went to Italy for two weeks.  A week in Florence and a week in Rome.  So fortunate that the weather was fabulous and we walked and walked.  I love the way the buildings are joined together as they meander down the roads.  There are no straight roads and there are very few wide roads.  Sidewalks on side streets seldom exist and cars and pedestrians seem to co-exist.  We had great hotels in neighbourhoods with great restaurants close by, ran across an organic market in a tower town in Tuscany, saw the leaning tower of Pisa and St. Peters and much, much more.

This was a year of travel.  We started in Costa Rica lying around a pool at a resort sipping pineapple based drinks and reading and relaxing.  Then we headed inland and followed amazing guides through rain forests and bird reserves and up the sides of volcanoes.  J took the zip line down a mountain.  I chose to walk down because, as I said, I was going slow enough that I could see the mountain and the trees and vines and everything there was to see.  J had the thrill of speed.

Jay had a chance in the spring to connect with university era colleagues at a reunion of the Communication Arts programme at Concordia University. We stayed with Jay’s TV  prof Bill Gillsdorf and partner Susan, a brunch was hosted by Jacqueline and everyone got a tour of the Communication Studies facilities. All the gear he and his colleagues used to work with is now in the Comm Studies museum replaced with banks of computers.

Fellow graduate Rick Caulfield from BC couldn’t make the reunion, but came through in the fall and had a chance to see the legendary Erin Fall Fair before he journeyed to Montreal to see everyone.

And then we took the RV to the Hudson Valley for a four day blue grass festival.  Great music.  Great iced tea. 10,000 people and most of them camping in tents or RVs.  And all of us enjoying the music and the vibe.  And an Irish Festival taking place at the RV park where we were staying so we took advantage of Ceilidhs as well.  We were close to Lauren in Hollowville and had an opportunity to visit and J played golf.

And we parked the RV at the Science Hill Golf Course near Stratford for 3 weeks and saw plays.  J golfed.  Visited with Marilyn and talked theatre.  And came back to Erin just so we could fly to Nashville to attend a tribute concert for Guy Clarke which was held at the Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ole Opry, and lucked into a concert by Lyle Lovett and his Large Band at the symphony hall.  And in between we walked up and down the main street and listened to music in all the bars since music starts at 10am and goes until 2am.  No cover charge and the musicians play for tips in this part of town.

J organizes a monthly concert on behalf of Erin Radio.  It features local musicians who play folk/bluegrass/country and we have heard good music all fall.  Tonight the Dirty Dishes played.  Three “dishes” who sing, play and have a good time.  Check them out .http://www.dirty-dishes.ca/music.htm.

In between trips, the garden kept us very busy but it means we had fresh produce all summer long and lots of carrots, onions and potatoes to tide us through the winter. Not to mention the twenty five or so pie pumpkins we’re trying to figure out what to do with. And, just like the Greenhouse Group, we’re planning on opening up our garden space to a Garden Group for next summer. It’s almost time to order the seeds.