Behind the house is a gently rolling field with a footworn path to the bush. At the edge of the bush is a clearing that has traditionally been the site of our family’s bush day wiener roast. The last couple of years poor weather and our mother’s decline in health have kept us close to the house for our gatherings. The bush is a sight to behold in any season and we look out on it’s quiet beauty from the kitchen window.
The treks to the bush continue when far-flung relatives arrive for a visit or when the younger family members feel the need for a little exercise before supper. The youngest of the family, not yet two years of age loves going to the bush with her Grandpa and Aunts. Managing to walk most of the way now she enjoys the outing in all kinds of weather. If caught in a sudden rain shower she just laughs at the raindrops and cuddles into her Grandpa’s jacket. As the trees, wildflowers and birds become more familiar to her she will develop her own fond memories.
My own memories of the bush are going there with my mom to search for wildflowers. She taught me how to identify and name the ones she had learned as a child. Going through the fallen branches from the winter storms we would wade through wet patches. I can picture the May apples, Dutchmen’s breeches, Jack in the pulpit, dog tooth violets and trilliums along with the clumps of skunk cabbage. Maybe I’ll get a chance to see them again this spring.
Going a little deeper into the woods in the fall we would hunt for puffballs growing on the old trees. These puffballs would be fried in butter for supper. I was always put off from these things by the black bugs crawling all over the creases. Wild elderberries were picked for preserves and pies. I didn’t care for elderberries either as they were strong flavoured and seedy. Picky aren’t I?
Mom would always reminisce about making maple syrup with Dad as they would stay there all day and into the night gathering sap, boiling the syrup and using the fire to cook porkchops and baked potatoes for their supper. As a baby I was bundled up and put to sleep in the shelter of the old sugar shack as they worked together on syrup production. Nothing remains of this shack but the family memories live on.
One time, years ago, on a walking trip to inspect a new ditch dug in the bush Dad found two small stray puppies crying for their mother. The mother dog was feared dead and perhaps a victim of the bulldozers used to put in the new ditch. The two puppies were cared for and kept in a shed until any fear of them having rabies was dispelled. My little brother and I were overjoyed with these furry little dogs and couldn’t believe our good fortune.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and if the weather holds there will be a few of the family going for a walk to the bush.The little one will be leading the way, giggling at her Grandpa and holding on to her Aunt’s hand.