We were never a laugh-out-loud family. Oh but the yard was full of laughter when we played running games outdoors and bedtime was full of whispers and snorts and giggles but you would have to wait a long wait to hear big guffaws from any of us. To an outsider our often silent mealtimes would have looked morose and a bit sullen when in reality the active slogging of school, chores and work left us weary enough to seek the peace brought by few words and lots of good food. It was also necessary to eat fast so as to be done first and thus first at the daily comics to see what happened to Brick Bradford, the Lone Ranger and Terry and those pesky Pirates.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Toronto
M.P.P.s and their families were getting out pronto.
Some were bound for Hawaii, and others for Florida
(Where the oranges are bigger, the strippers are torrider).
While some flew to Europe to ski Switzerland,
But Mike Harris had cancelled the travels he’d planned,
Namely, golfing in Georgia and neighbouring states,
To work on decreasing the income tax rates.
(When elections are coming, then no one relaxes,
And support will be strongest for he who cuts taxes).
Volume 22, Number 128, October/November 2019 WINNER OF THE 2019 NON-FICTION - THE SUSANNA VOTH WIEBE PRIZE Healing Steps by Felicity Ann Tinning
Stepping through the gap between the trees and thick riverside vegetation, I feel strongly that this is the place. An isolated clearing much like the ones I had seen earlier on the rocky bank of the Fraser River. They were occupied with fishermen, no one is here.
Volume 22, Number 129, October/November 2019 WINNER OF THE 2019 POETRY - THE MARJORIE MCINTOSH PRIZE The Ballad of Ned Morgan by Anne Hopkinson
Ned Morgan was my grandfather, and the story in the ballad is one we have told many times in our family.
He might have stayed overnight in Frank if he hadn’t cared so much for his horses, one a mare who was soon
to foal. Ned and his family homesteaded on land just outside Burmis. Alberta, a town that no longer exists.
All that is left is the famous Burmis tree by the side of the highway.
The Morgans all lived in a log-built shack,
had a garden in front and a shed out back,
and a black iron stove and two big beds,
where the family of five lay down their heads.
Volume 22, Number 128, August/September 2019 My England by Paula Brine-Hogan
I do not forget my England with its dancing yellow daffodils
That line the narrow, winding country roads,
And lush green grass spread across rolling hills;
The patchwork fields, and golden buttercups, and purple lilac too.
The first character I want to write about is Mr. August Dyck. I was fifteen and fancy free in summer. Mr. August Dyck asked me if I would like to work on his farm during July and August. Of course I would. Since Mr. Dyck was a grain farmer there were no animals to look after. Only tractor and truck work. This suited me just fine.
Ploughing Summer Fallow
The first lesson was to drive the tractor ploughing summer fallow. In those days there was no weed killer which later (and still today) was used to kill weeds. Instead the farmer every three or four years chose to “rest” the field and use that time to cultivate the soil deeply and keep it black. Thus hopefully to get rid of weeds for at least a year or two. I should add I grew up in the so-called Red River valley in Manitoba where the soil is black, black, black, and extremely fertile. There are no stones. But the soil is sticky. After a rain it was smart to stay home since the dirt roads would certainly do you in!
Volume 22, Number 127, June/July 2019 Manitoba Fair Laurent’s Story by Marcel Gervais
It was late August. It was time for people to prepare for the county fair in the village of St. Eustache, ten miles from our farm. This was a special time of excitement; women baked and cooked special meals of beans, and breads, and cakes and pies. The aroma of beautiful succulent foods was in the air, from farm to farm. City people didn’t ever get this excited about anything.
Mum baked white bread so light, so beautiful it had to be entered in the fair; we were sure she would win. She also entered her “brioches”, light bun-like bread pastries that were slightly sweetened, and absolutely delicious. She often made these for special celebrations.
The brilliant rays of the sun raced across the savannah and burst into the bedroom window of Charlie’s chalet. He leaped out of bed and quickly dressed. It was Day One of his wildlife safari in the magical Madikwe Game Reserve, and anticipation surged through his body. His group had arrived the previous evening and been briefed on park protocols before being wined and dined in an outdoor native ceremony.
The sun was already over the horizon so no need to call for a guide to escort him to the main lodge. Besides, he’d already had close encounters with tiny scorpions and giant spiders the day before so felt like he was ready to brave any peril.
Volume 22, Number 126, April/May 2019 Canada for All by Christine Graham
You know me
I am for peace, bravery, justice and freedom for all
You know me
I am over a century old but my dreams and visions are still young
I stand tall
High above, at the crown of the earth
As the eagles fly, my strength is renewed
There is a rebirth
My people tell their story and together we are one
From all walks of life under the blazing summer sun
Volume 22, Number 125, February/March 2019 Goalie Girl by Denyse Gervais Regan
The elevator doors opened and I looked up and up. Could it be, could it really be him? I had to ask, to know. “Are you, ah, Gordie Howe?”
He stuck out his hand and we shook. “Yes, I am.”
I was so flustered. “I’m Estelle Gauthier. Oh, my brothers are going to be so jealous. I have eight of them, brothers, I mean.” I was babbling, my mouth on a roll and I couldn’t stop it. “They played, lived and breathed hockey, Hockey, HOCKEY!” I stopped, took a breath and asked. “Do you have a minute?”
Volume 22, Number 125, February/March 2019 Snow Bank by James Deahl
After yellow autumn has passed from the trees,
although not from memory, great snows descend,
slowly filling firs and birch grove
initially with winter’s scent, later with their white weight.
Grey November yields to bright December,
an unsullied redemption for a year’s losses.
Gullies and north slopes fill, then melt, then fill again
until the big one comes that lasts three months or more,
every hollow choked by the frozen hand.