When I was a little girl, younger then eight, my grandparents lived on a farm far down a rural road with a long, long driveway leading up to it. They raised cows, chickens and pigs, I think – it’s hard to remember what exactly I remember. I do recall that I told my grade two class about that farm for ‘show and tell’. I always wanted to bring a treasure from home to show, but my mom convinced me that their farm, where she grew up, was special enough to just ‘tell’.
There were two aspects of the farm that I was enamoured with – one of these was that my grandparent’s farm in mid-eastern Alberta in 1966 didn’t have running water. All of the water was collected from a pump that ran into a trough, far down a sloping hill from the house. We bathed in a steel tub in the porch with water heated on a pot on the stove.
The second subject I choice to tell my grade two class about was the raspberries. Back when I was a little kid we never, ever would have bought raspberries from a grocery store during the limited season that they might have sold them, because when we made the five hour trip to my grandparent’s farm the bright red jewels grew in vast abundance in a field of bushes laden with the sweet fruit. The August sun would be hot on my head as I passed between the bushes, my mother and grandmother nearby, and I was in my own version of summertime Shangri-La – watching my small cup fill, even though I popped as many into my mouth and the berry juice sparkled on my tongue.
My grandparents left the farm in 1967 to retire to town. As a young adult I drove my mom back to the property and was shocked to see the driveway was short, the water pump was actually conveniently quite close to the house, and there really wasn’t much of a slope to what I thought of as a hill, at all. My mom and my small kids and I, pushed our way through a tight caragana hedge to get to the empty run down house – diminutive in size as well. We pried away a loose door knob as a odd keepsake and crept back through the hedge. The raspberries, however many there might really have been of them, were ploughed away.
But my grandmother had dug up and transplanted those fertile bushes into her town yard and it was that summer that I asked her if I could take some back to mine.
My grandmother is gone now. I don’t know if the berry bushes still line her back fence in that far away town, but they grow in abundance at the back of my yard. This weekend I cared for my two small granddaughters – years away from grade two ‘show and tell’. The smallest one, not even two yet, was nonchalant over raspberries in her highchair, but I took them for a short walk, that they might remember as a hike, over the grass to those berry bushes and she literally cooed in delight at finding them underneath the heavy branches, while her sister filled a tiny cup.