Harvesting Hay the Ol’ Way (Nov 1991)

Just recently, I had the opportunity to travel north and spent several days in Rosswood, the community where I grew up. I visited all the old homestead sites… lingering a few minutes at each …starring at the state of decay that most were in. Many were demolished, including the old homesite where most of my Mom’s pictures were taken. The main highway going to the Nass Valley cuts right through our old homestead and all that remains is a fragrant lilac bush.

As I toured Rosswood… I remembered the faces of the folks who had chosen to live there without the modern comforts that electricity makes possible and I marvelled at their physical endurance in raising a family naturally. Today, many of the settlers have generators, propane fridges and dryers and even indoor toilets. Plus… a small general store with a radio phone… so that important messages can be relayed to the appropriate family.

This month’s front cover has two photos… as I felt one didn’t capture the staggering amount of work it took to store our winter allotment of hay. The larger photo shows Grandad hand-scything the hay on a hot summer day with Ol’ Goatie in all her splendor in the background. The hay would then be taken down the hillside to the side of the lake and loaded into our canoe. The smaller inset photo is one of Kalum Lake and my Dad with his canoe fully loaded. Once we landed, the hay was loaded onto a small trailer/tractor to be transported to the ramp leading to our barn and then pitchforked once again into the top level of our barn.

It boggles my mind to think of the time and effort it took just to get hay every summer to feed a few animals over the winter. I can understand why society plants hay on flat land and invented machines to save time and labour.

In addition to hauling hay, growing a garden, chopping wood, arranging for a continuous supply of water (by well, gravity feed system, or hauling it to the homestead in 100-gallon barrels) building outhouses and barns, canning moose meat or salmon, or sun drying the winter’s preserves… most Dads also worked for the local timber company, logging the land during the day. The Moms had their hands full with an average of five to seven kids… baking bread and peeling potatoes must have felt like a full-time job, not to mention doing laundry in an old wringer washer. Did they have time to enjoy the sunshine while hanging up the clothes?

Family outings were usually a trip to the lake, where we kids splashed ourselves in the ice-cold water or, if we sat real still a canoe ride. Sometimes we even got to fish from the canoe but too many kids in one canoe makes too much noise for any serious fishing so we generally fished from the side of the lake. Most Saturdays our family split… Mom, myself and the three younger boys would go to town to buy supplies… gas, propane, clothes, food, etc… or to get things repaired while Dad and the three older boys would go hunting up Ol’ Goatie or down the Beaver River, looking for moose.

Some days I wonder who has it harder …the people who choose to “live off the land naturally” or the modern family with all the pressures of city living. Today, more and more families have both parents “working”, often in sealed buildings with the constant whirr of fans, computers and phones calls. Mental work seems to go on non-stop and people have to schedule time to keep fit. As for the children, TV has become the central focus since there are few chores.

As for me… I enjoy city life and I am very grateful for the modern conveniences because I have more time to meditate. The latest statistic is that over fifty percent of Americans are now meditating. I feel people are drawn to this activity because of high mental stress at work, with limited time for physical exercise (due to the evolvement of modern time-saving devices).

Meditation is something we do, but in reality it is a state of being; once a person attains enlightenment, that feeling of bliss stays with that person every moment of time. Meditation is similar to the relaxation and visualization exercises one can do for stress management… and more.

I find meditation quietens my mind so that I can enjoy the wonders of me… living in this beautiful universe, knowing I am connected with God… at a heart level. Once I had felt that bliss… the desire for more came from deep within me… and I began my search for self-realization. My journey started five years ago, slowly at first, as I took an occasional evening or week-end seminar. As my family grew less dependent and I had more time in my life I found regular meditation to be very beneficial. I continued reading and searching for ways to understand my life, why I was doing what I was doing, what made me happy. I wanted to become more aware of my subconscious programing.

Now that our boys are in college, and I have a job that supports my way of thinking and friends that have the same thoughts and ideals as me, and a knowingness of possibilities. I expect my growth to accelerate and my path to enlightenment to become clearer.

I would like to thank Larry for organizing Brother Charles’ visit… for he is definitely an illumed being…you can read more about his visit to the Okanagan on page 10. I thank Annie Holtby for introducing me to the latest tapes of Deepak Chopra, M.D., “Magical Mind, Magical Body”…If you have read and enjoyed any of Chopra’s books, his cassette tapes will inspire and heal you. And finally, I thank William Peters for reminding me how important the breath is in our healing process and his teachers, Leonard Orr and Babaji.

A parting word of wisdom from Leonard Orr’s book Physical Immortality, The Science of Everlasting Life. “The idea of physical immortality gives people an opportunity to unravel their death urge and free themselves from the tyranny of deathist mentality. The ignorance of physical immortality leaves people in the prison of misery, self-destructiveness, fear, failure, and insecurity that causes illness and pain, violence and war, power struggles, impotence and cruelty, human degradation and death itself. The philosophy of physical immortality unshackles the human imagination, gives access to enormous reserves of energy and creativity, creates a motive for patience and simplicity and is itself a test of love and intelligence”.

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