A Magical Summer

Written by Harold McNeill on September 6th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Fairy in Garden

Personal Photos:  We always knew it would be A Magical Summer since the moment our granddaughter Audrey first planted those Scarlet Runners early this spring.  It became real one morning when I captured this  photo of a fairy standing in the corner of the garden beside an old wicker chair.

Link to Photos for this Post
Part 2: Link to Crackling Fire on Cold Winters Day
Part 3: The Magical Gardens of Adam Szczawinski

Fences and Gardens, Family and Friends

So much was happening this spring and summer it was hard to keep up, but suffice it to say there was a lot of magic. Woven between various trips to destinations inside and outside Canada, as well as visits by family and friends, there was a determination to redo the garden and fences as they were in tough shape after several years of neglect.

Last year Lynn and I worked at cleaning up the decks and redoing the garden furniture, but that only made the crumbling fences and mom cropped 7 front coverovergrown gardens look even more sad and forlorn.  Growing up in a family where my mother had the greenest thumb I know, we could no longer avoid thinking how she would feel if she happened by and saw all those steely, prickly weeds making such fun of the few domestic plants that survived the long summers of neglect.

Back in the late 1990’s mom and I had spent two magical summers planting everything we could get our hands on and it was now time to renew the gardening vows that were etched in my genes.  In our family one daughter, Kari, and one son, Sean, have been gifted with that particular gene, so the linage will not be lost any time soon. The jobs, however, were not a one week fix.

Photo (Personal Files, c1990s).  When mom was here for those two long visits, we spent day son end planting everything we could get our hands on. As neither of us had ever made moss hanging baskets we must have put together fifteen of various shapes and sizes.  Many of the McNeill Life Stories, 1941-1965, a historical stories on the blog, came out of our daily conversations.

As one gets older it seems a white picket fence with arched gateways surrounded by gardens filled with flowers and vegetables is the order of the day, but such ideals come true after a lot of elbow grease is applied. Even separating and ripping out about 200 feet of old fence overgrown with tangled vines and prickly blackberry, seemed to take forever, but thanks to Jay Bird, the task was Birch Lake Home Mom Dad Harold Davie Lockhartaccomplished.  Then cutting, rounding, sanding and painting well over 300 pickets, replacing posts and building four new gates took its toll during the long hot summer.  Interspersed with this was the building raised bed frames for an early spring greenhouse style garden in which old soil had to be broken and new soil wheeled in. Thanks to all the little gnomes who were hanging around, most items were planted by the end of May and the final sections of the fence in place and painted by the end of July.

Photo Right (Family Files):  Dad, Mom and a family friend tower above me as I puff away on my pipe (really mom?).  Mom and Dad were married the year before and are standing in front of the first home dad built at Birch Lake in 1940. The couple also had a big garden at that first home.  (Link to Story)

In addition to the few photos in this post, a short video is attached that shows the progress over the spring and summer and how the garden, even in the face of having some poor soil and a constant need of more water in the extremely dry conditions, did pretty well.  Next year, all things being equal it will be amazing and if I have my wish comes true, Alysha and Lucas may complete a 12 x 12 foot Get Fresh mural to cover the back of the shed that faces our property.

Up  Next

The next post will track our steps as we fall, cut, split and pile about three cords of wood for our new fire insert (post will be up in a few days). It involves a lot of excitement as big trees come down, there is a police raid and along with another neighbour, we managed to rescue dozens of plants from being buried in a construction zone.

Harold, Lynn and Family

Below is a sample of the nearly completed Magical Summer Project.

Link to Full Photo Series

(Link to Slide Show)

Link to Crackling Fire on Cold Winters Day

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.