First Words

As I tie up all the loose ends of this issue, I can feel a familiar ripple of excitement run through me. It’s spring. Sap is dripping from branches that were broken by the winter wind. The spring peepers are making a racket in the pond and I can hear water rushing through the culvert under the road.

My dad and mom would always come down to the farm around Easter after Watershed had gone to press. Because it was a three-hour drive from Manotick and it would take them most of the morning to load the car, they’d pull into the driveway late in the day. The back seat carried the baking – butter tarts for Johnnie, carrot cake for the girls, and chocolate eclairs for Easter – and the trunk held Dad’s tools – his shovel, his tree spade, his chain saw and his axe. His axe was so sharp it could split a hair. If it was a nice day, we would unpack the car, then sit in the sun on the porch with a drink. Dad would cast his eyes around the property and begin to discuss what lay ahead of us. “Janie, we need to tackle that buckthorn at the south corner tomorrow.” And then there was the big question: “Janie, how many trees did you order?”

The next day we’d head out hand in hand along the fence rows towards what Dad referred to as “the bush.” He never called it the forest. We would spend hours puttering: planting conifers for wildlife protection, pulling up ribes by the root, and of course, chopping down buckthorns. At lunch, we’d sit in the sun, our backs against the fence and share the beer and sandwiches that Mom had packed for us. They were hours of pure joy as we worked together in an environment that was both our heart and our soul.

Today as I close my computer, I feel the urge to get back “in the bush,” to putter away, to plant a few trees and to enjoy the magnificent spring as it unfolds.

My mother always told me to count my blessings and I do.

Happy spring.