Harvesting Potatoes (Nov 1994)

Fall weather always reminds me of change. Change that is eternal. A change that is much different than my anticipation of spring. In spring I look forward to the longer warmer days of summer. I don’t look forward to the fall, knowing the rain must come and eventually the snow. I know it is a cycle and that this change is necessary, but I would prefer that it didn’t happen.

Fall is also a time of harvest and long hours of work putting the vegetables away and the garden to rest. It was the one time of the year my husband helped in the garden, digging with the potato fork. I was quite content to follow along and put the potatoes into the burlap bags.

This month’s front cover photo shows Grandad with our first harvest of potatoes in Rosswood. They’re all over the road because the trailer hitch broke. Grandad wasn’t worried about traffic as he repicked them all up one more time, because few people drove the long, dusty, bumpy road to Rosswood. A few folks that knew of the good hunting or fishing took their chances and let the road shake their cars apart. I remember Grandad and Dad taking turns tilling the land with a horse and plough. Us kids got to pick the rocks and the weeds. There was no water system in place and forest land needed much help to grow vegetables that first year. Eventually we cleared our own land and had a garden down by the barn, but by then we had pigs and we let them do most of the digging as they enjoyed routing around.

I was raised on meat and potatoes. My father didn’t like stew or soups so dinner was always much the same, with a few changes in the vegetables. The moose meat was delicious and we enjoyed a lot of fresh fish. But my favourite was canned moosemeat, which was so tender it would melt in your mouth.

One day while I was looking at the old photographs, I was joined by a young friend who made the comment, “No wonder you are a vegetarian.” I asked him why and he said, “Because over half of your photos have a dead animal in them.” I hadn’t really thought about it before, but he was right, my family photo album included many trophy shots of fifty-pound salmon, goat, moose, bear, lynx, grouse, rabbits, geese and even weasels. It was normal for us to pose with dead animals. Guns didn’t give me the high that my brothers enjoyed. David, the oldest, is the only one who still enjoys hunting and killing animals.

In the wilderness killing a wild animal was an easy way to get food but preserving it took time because we had no freezer. Hunting season is usually after first frost so the wood shed was our refrigerator till the meat could be cut up and canned. Letting meat hang makes it more tender but not if it is hung for too long. The heart and tongue were always the first meal. The horns and hide were usually displayed for all to see. My Mom was a good a shot but not as good as Dad was. Grandad was considered the expert and my brothers were in training. I didn’t want any part of it. Looking back, however, I am thankful that I ate wild animals that roamed the hills for I now know they were healthy and free of toxic chemical in their bodies. As a consumer, I am concerned about the quality of the meat and vegetables that are sold at supermarkets. It makes sense to me to buy local or take the time to grow my own food.

Thanksgiving weekend was the last of the Farmers’ Market in Penticton and I was delighted that so many people came all season to buy the fresh herbs and vegetables that were on the tables. I was delighted with the selection and the numbers of organic growers that participated. In Nelson they have a large cooperative food store that sells organic foods all winter, I believe we need a place like that in Penticton, but I am told that Penticton consumers are not willing to pay the higher price for organic food. Do they not understand the connection between their health and the food they put into their body?

Fall weather also reminds me that summer is over and that school is starting. My children may be all grown but ISSUES is five years old and it’s time for me to let go. I can still remember a conversation I had many, many years with a Mom I saw crying in the parking lot of the school yard. When I asked her what was the matter, she informed me that it was hard “letting her child go.” I didn’t understand the emotion for I was delighted just thinking of the possibility of having some time to myself. Three children eighteen months apart meant that a lot of my time was spent taking care of them and making sure their needs were met.

I am delighted to let you know I have hired Donna. She types ninety words a minute, has owned her own magazine and loves working with the computer and will be doing the typesetting and lay-out of the ads and stories. With time, she’ll do more of whatever is needed to get ISSUES to print on time. I have already contracted out some of the distribution and advertising to various people and Jan took over the mail-out and billing as of last month. Making the decision to hire staff was the hardest part, but I know deep inside of me that if I didn’t, ISSUES couldn’t grow and become all that it can be. I’m excited at the prospect of watching my little magazine grow. Health ISSUES is where my heart is … educational and promotional work are my forte and it is time to let other people look after the day-to-day work as I continue to promote and support all those who have made the shift to a healthier lifestyle.

Health is more than good quality food … it is a feeling of being connected. …emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically… internally as well as externally.

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