Hi! Remember me?
Between that fabulous Extra-Long Weekend and the heat-wave with which we’ve been blessed, I just never got around to the blog.
I get really excited about hot, hot weather, much to the chagrin of a lot of people around here. It’s been around 34 degrees Celsius or 94 Fahrenheit with 85- 95% humidity which brings the temperatures close to 40 (over 100 in American).
And it’s sunny, sunny, sunny.
When I was a kid, back on the farm, I used to hate this weather so much it would make me cry. Picking cloyingly sticky sour cherries in this weather was an unbearable torture – a thick harness with a basket heavy with fruit strapped to my front; perched on a ladder; my head deep in the branches of the tree; juice of the cherries running down my arms/in my hair mingling with sweat; every bug, twig, leaf, molecule of dirt sticking to me; climbing up and down the ladder, reaching, bending, stretching.
Picking peaches in this weather was, arguably, even worse – with the peach fuzz clinging to every inch of naked flesh and embedding itself deep into every fibre of my clothing. I would itch. Itch and sweat. Sweat and itch. It was enough to drive a person mad.
And at the end of the day, no matter how thoroughly I washed I would still feel sticky or itchy or both. And when I closed my eyes at night, sweltering in my room, high up on the 3rd floor of our old, un-airconditioned farmhouse – I would not see blessed darkness. I would only see cherries or peaches dancing tauntingly before me. Pick me! Pick me!
I would have prayed for rain, but rain brings no relief to a Niagara summer. We couldn’t pick in the rain, but we could do the canning. So instead of being in the blistering outdoors, we would spend the day in an even hotter kitchen – peeling, pitting, sugaring, bottling and boiling vats and vats of Mason jars filled with fruit.
We had a little pool in the yard that we had to fill from the well at the top of the hill in the cherry orchard. We couldn’t use the water from the well that supplied the house because it had a limited capacity and depended on rain to keep it filled. So we’d take our buckets to the well at the top of the hill and pump and pump and pump. And carry our buckets back down the hill and slowly – ever-so-slowly fill that pool. We filled that pool with water that came from so far underground that it was only a few degrees from freezing.
So, of course we couldn’t use the pool until the water had warmed up in the sun for a few days. And then we could use it for a couple of days before the water became stagnant and then we had to empty the pool and clean the pool and start over.
I guess it must have been worth it, because we kept doing it.
But summer wasn’t all bad. There were always lots of people around – fruit pickers of all ages, sizes and description. That was fun. You never knew who was going to turn up from one day to the next. A few came back every day and even year after year. Most would just arrive early in the morning, seemingly out of the blue.
Some were crazy; some were lazy; some were fun; some were mysterious; some were handsome; some were hideous. The orchards would be full of these strangers working silently, quickly since they got paid by piece-work. But during lunch breaks they’d all gather in the yard at the picnic tables or under some trees and chat or argue; tell jokes; flirt, tease and share food and drinks. Some would even have instruments and play a little music or sing as they relaxed before heading back to the orchards.
And sometimes, when there was a lot of fruit ripe at once, they’d stay and pick until dark and then my dad would lay on bit of a barbeque for them for being good enough to work such a long day. And then there’d be a party – with an assorted and motley collection of strangers.
Anyway, over the years I came to mind the heat less and less. When I left Niagara to move to Halifax it had been around 40 degrees for a couple of months already. When I got to Halifax, they were also experiencing a “heat wave” too. It was 24 and they were dropping in the streets from heat exhaustion. So for 9 years, I lived with summers that never got above 24 or 25 (75 American). And that was only for a few days each summer. And only between about 11:00 am and 3:00 pm when it would cool off again. And there was always – always – a stiff breeze off the ocean. And I found myself missing the heat, more and more each year.
So, I’m back in it now and I plan to revel in each and every moment of it. I hope your summer is being nice and summery, too!