Northern Ontario Bush
for my latest
It took me a while to be able to write
these posts on a consistent basis.
At first it was very painful for me
to even read my father's letters,
and I have a lot of
complicated and distressing memories
from the time my family was in the North.
Stairway to Heaven ~ JLH3Photography
I am finding some peace
in the muskeg of my memories.
I've just finished and am rereading
Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time,
a phenomenal and surprising book.
A sentence one of her characters thought
keeps running through my dreams at night:
If you think about someone
you've loved and lost,
you are already with them.
Now, when I handle my Dad's letters,
and I work with his words,
it's like he's here with me,
and that eases the pain
of missing him for over thirty years.
The letter I'm sharing today
is just about an ordinary day,
but it makes me laugh,
especially as I had Dad
as a teacher a number of years.
Life is mostly ordinary days,
but the older I get,
the more I realize
what a gift an ordinary day is.
They fly by ever faster.
Thursday, October 6, 1960
My father wrote:
I have to make tonight’s effort a short one,
because I have to get the monthly report
ready to send into the department.
I am sorry that this week’s letter
had to be short and not as good
as some of my previous ones,
especially since this is the first issue
that two of my customers1 have received.
We will try to have something interesting
or exciting to report next week,
even if we have to
go jump off the dock to make news.
We put up the swings today at the school
and discovered that the government had goofed again.
The chains for the seats were much too short.
The seats came up to my chest,
and these were supposed to be
seats and swings for little children.
I had two of my older Indian boys
assemble the swings,
because I would not have had the faintest notion
of how to go about doing it.
The Indians, on the other hand,
are quite knacky at this sort of thing.
I had to laugh at them,
and incidentally at myself,
when I was listening to them talking
while they were putting it together.
I never realized it before,
but I have a habit of saying,
“There now, that’s done correctly,”
whenever one of them finished his work.
Well, they were chattering away
in Ojibway to each other,
when one of them finished tightening a nut
and said, “There now, that’s done correctly.”
The funny part of the whole thing was
that he wasn’t trying to be smart.
It just slipped out as naturally as Ojibway.
It sounded so queer that I just howled.
Oh well, they say that imitation
is the truest form of flattery.
As I said at the beginning,
I have to make this one a short one,
so this is my swan song for tonight.
See you all next week.
Bye for now,
|George (left) and Simon (right)|
I am quite certain
that the two older boys
who assembled the swing set
were my future friends
and George Jacobs.
I have happy memories of those two
and of swinging on those swings.
When I taught, I often took
my third graders out for an extra recess.
It was my rage against the machine,
against the system that cut recess
for more time to practice bubbling answers
for the excessive testing of young children.
Much to the delight of my kiddos,
I nearly always took a turn on the swings.
They always wanted to swing higher than I did.
Ha! Good luck with that!
I'm a veteran swinger,
and I honed my competitive skills
at 40º and 50º below zero2
with Indian kiddos long ago.
|wikimedia ~ edited|
1 As Dad became more experienced at typing with multiple sheets of carbon paper,
he added more sheets and was able to send copies
to his mother-in-law Ella MacDonald and his maternal Aunt Maude.
2 - 40º and - 50º Fahrenheit or - 40º and - 45.5º Celsius (below zero)
Till next time ~
|Swings at Uno's School|
The Father's Island