Tuesday, 28 June 2011
I have also found myself thinking about the wild rose bushes around the perimeter of our Okanagan orchard. Long ago wild rose bushes. Long gone wild rose bushes.
You see, the Okanagan Valley is very rocky. Or China is very rocky and enterprising Chinese citizens industriously pushed their rocks through the core of the earth to the Okanagan whenever we weren't paying attention! During the 1950s and 1960s, South Okanagan orchardists spent many many many hours picking up rocks and piling them around the perimeters of their property. Rock picking was a regular part of every summer routine. So when we moved onto our property in the mid 1970s, there was a 2 to 8 foot tall bank of rocks all around it. I think we even added to the piles for a couple of years because every time we dug a hole to plant a tree or fix an irrigation pipe, MORE ROCKS surfaced ... did you know those suckers BREED LIKE RABBITS when you aren't looking?!?
The rock piles were rather nice. They were great playgrounds for kids. They were wonderful habitats for cool critters like garter snakes. As a kid, I climbed on plenty of them! (rock piles and garter snakes!) They let you know where you were, whose orchard you were on. They were natural fences. As a mom, I could say "don't go past the rock pile" and the youngsters knew where their safe boundaries were. Wild roses grew on them. Wild asparagus grew along the base of them. Yes, they made it 'tight' to turn the tractor and other farm equipment at the end of some rows of fruit trees. Yes, they meant you had to 'go around the long way' when you wanted to visit the neighbouring orchard, unless you were up for shinnying over the rock pile. Those rock piles were just a fact of life to me, having grown up in the South Okanagan during the 1950s and 1960s. Like the freckles on my arms ... just THERE ... just NORMAL.
Well. By the beginning of the 1980s, my mate got to seriously looking at the rock piles and announced they had to go. They were unwanted. Unnecessary. He calculated that without those rock piles, we could plant I-forget-how-many more fruit trees and I-forget-how-many more fruit trees would clearly mean MORE MONEY. As well as more room to turn the tractor and other farm equipment at the end of some rows of fruit trees, and the ability to visit neighbouring orchards without having to 'go around the long way' or shinny over the rock pile. So he hired a local contractor to haul away the rock piles.
I-forget-how-many truckloads of rocks got loaded and hauled away. I suppose they became rock fill for some highway bed or something. It took DAYS to haul them all away.
The next thing we knew, we had unhappy neighbours. "Your sprinklers are now sprinkling onto our driveway." "Your chickens are now scratching over here in our orchard." There is something to the old adage "good fences make good neighbours"! My mate laughed and replied "what's your problem? Half of those damned rocks were YOURS and I paid to have them hauled away!" (I'm pretty sure he never once thought about asking the neighbours if they wanted their half of the rock piles hauled away, but that's another story for another time.) And the more money thing? Nope. I-forget-how-many more fruit trees really meant I-forget-how-many more fruit trees need to be watered, sprayed, pruned, thinned, picked and cared for, but somehow never really added to the company coffers.
The sad part of the entire thing is that by the time the last truckload of rocks rumbled away, I couldn't remember what the wild roses looked like. Oh, I missed the asparagus every spring when it didn't come back, and clearly remembered what asparagus looked like in the field and on my plate. But for the life of me, I couldn't picture what the 'gone' wild roses looked like! How could something that was such a normal part of my existence just disappear without an indelible recollection of some kind? I would even have been happy with a faint and fuzzy recollection, but, nope. Nada. Zip. Just ... gone.
Wait a minute! What happened to my sock?
Well ... I was happy with the colours and design, but not 100% pleased with the fit, so "a-frogging we did go, a-frogging we did go" ... back to the cuff. It won't take long to re-knit what I ripped out. It really is amazing, you know. A half hour of knitting on the bus morning and evening, and I've got a finished pair of socks without any serious time commitment. Sitting-on-the-bus time isn't REALLY productive time, so ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING during non-productive time is a pleasant surprise. Or is that warped thinking?