Homebodies - Summer reflections


Rita Friesen
The Neepawa Banner

As I skulked around the Gardens of Versailles, slipping from the shade of one tree to another, all I could think was that I was hot. Very hot. Too hot. The last time I was in the little village of Marie Antoinette it was quaint and charming and intriguing, this time, the sweat in my eyes blurred my vision and I felt tired and jaded.

I was reminded of the days of my youth, baling hay with my father. We took turns driving the 8N and stacking bales on the home- made sled – two planks loosely joined at the front, allowing for a firm foot to set down and guide the pile off the planks and out the back. Hot summer days when my feet perspired to the point of having heat rash, blue jeans grew threadbare from the abrasive stems and stalks and the water trough looked appealing. Hot summer days, when as the ‘outside girl’, I almost envied my sisters for their roles in the house and the garden. Almost, but not quite. The challenge of the days’ work, the satisfaction of completing an arduous task well, earned a wondrous rest.

 These thoughts resurfaced as I sat on the hill and enjoyed the Canada Day fireworks. This was different, but the same. It was Carman Fair time and my older sister was enjoying the fireworks up close. Once again, my father and I were out baling, the cool of the summer evening allowing the alfalfa leaves to remain a part of the harvest. As we circled the field, way off in the distance, we could see the sparkle and glitter of the fireworks miles away. I don’t recall feeling hostile or ill done by to be out at work rather than play. The need for the hay for the winter was real, and often, it would be my task to feed the creatures. There was a camaraderie as we worked, deep satisfaction.

Summer holidays were not exactly holidays for many of my peers. We were farm kids. Extra hands were always welcome in the home, in the garden and on the land. It was what we did. And then, if the rain came to interrupt haying, one or two parents of our close knit community would organize a play day. The cars were loaded – it was before the days of seat belt laws!– Lunches packed, and we would head out to Delta Beach. For the day! The cool, clean water was a delightful break from scummy and slimy dugouts, shared by cattle and sheep. We could walk way out, the water level varying from knee deep to ankle deep to chest high, the sand clean and firm beneath our feet. It was a time of playing, just plain playing. The parents were always near by, ready for any childhood crisis, but not hovering. My memory has my friends from ages 12 and up, sometimes young adults joined us, making the day even more memorable. Wonderful memories, all of them.