People sometimes comment when they visit our town about how it seems some sort of time travel portal. I think the first clue really should be the fact I can't even call our town a town because it isn't. It's smaller than a town. A village would be more accurate. I think we can say two hundred and fifty people live in town with a few more in the outlying countryside. It's hard not to know everyone.
A group of kids from Toronto once came here for a work project. They said they felt as though they had travelled back to the fifties. Tidy houses, friendly people, general store, open doors and windows. We do seem to live at a different rhythm, a little more of a steady beat. It's all a little slower and a little more willing to just chat. Drive past a neighbour's house on your way to town and pull in to have a beer. Meet in the post office and chat. Get yourself caught up in the coffee chatter every morning at the rink.
And you know how community tables are all the controversial rage in big cities? It happens all the time at the local hotel. If someone is sitting by themselves, you feel an obligation to sit with them, find out how their seeding went, or if their cows are out to pasture yet, what they're doing for the summer or if their potatoes are up yet because you planted yours two weeks ago on account of the unusually early spring and there's no sign yet of a tater plant headed for the sky.
I love my garden. I like looking out at it when it's all black in spring, as it slowly emerges from seeding, the jungle it becomes in summer with sunflowers, borage and coriander running amok and the brown straw look it has in the fall as the corn leaves rustle and shake and the potato stalks are naked sticks. My office sits next to a window overlooking my garden. It keeps me company through my work days.
My garden isn't planted yet. It's tilled but I'm waiting for it to feel like the soil is warm enough. We have most of the seed and the children are excited for their roaming summer picnics of rhubarb, currants, beet leaves, spinach mint, leek and raspberries. They know it's going to take some work to get to that point. But each year they become more adept with the hoe and shovel.
Gardens are still common here and the kind people of our community are giving some space over to others who may not have had kind experiences. People are volunteering to plant a row for Siloam Mission, a shelter in Winnipeg providing meals to people, vocational rehabilitation, or whatever kind of assistance people in a difficult need situation might be requiring.
But when we, as a family, do get out there in the dirt and plant, there will be a row each of carrots, celery and beets for Siloam.
I would say onions and garlic would be my choice too but I have yet to grow onions in our soil that I could give away. Each year, the onions stay small, reminding me I still have learning to do. Each year nine hundred onion sets go in and each year not enough to last us through to the following spring comes out. I'm embarrassed to admit it. And don't get me started on the sad state of garlic affairs.
And I would commit to a row of cabbage but I feel enough like Indiana Jones protecting all my brassicas from flea beetles, cabbage worms and a frenzied flock of chickens.
So carrots, beets and celery it is. Simply because I can grow them.
If there is anything you like to grow, I would kindly encourage you to think on it and then put some extra seed in the ground.
If you are around here, we are planning a pick up day in the fall and then will take our half-ton in for delivery. Comment below or email me and I can make sure you receive any information you need. Thank you in advance for your generosity. And also, if you have any onion growing tips, please do let me know. I'd like to feel like I'm improving at least a little bit with my onion growing skills.
As a side note, the Siloam Mission workers stated a preference for carrots, beets, celery, onion, tomatoes, garlic, turnips, parsnip and any root vegetables. Please no zucchini (!!!!!), pumpkin, squash, potatoes or corn.