My oldest daughter, Christina, and I have not always had the smoothest of relationships. As the oldest child she seems to have born the brunt of the separation between her mother and I. Chris was only thirteen when her Mom and I split, a most difficult time in a child's life by itself without being complicated by the separation of their parents or a mother's avowed wish to alienate the children to their father. There have been times I have despaired we would ever have a relationship on any acceptable level but over the last year or so I am happy to say we have a better relationship than at any time since she was a child. Perhaps time can indeed heal all wounds.
I have written about the farm Chris, Ace and my grandchildren live on quite some ways from town and I have posted pictures of their 'Little House in the Wilderness.' There are many stories I could tell that are quite humorous. Most of them would be at Ace's expense. Some day I will share the humour with you all. I should get away with it. Even at my age I think I can run faster than Ace.
Christina invited me out to spend the day and night with her and her family on New Year's day. After tending to her family, Chris drove in from the boondocks to pick me up. I said goodbye to Tess and to civilization and drove back out with her.
Now, I suppose, I should explain that when she said 'to spend the night with the family' what she meant was to spend the night with her, Ace, two grandchildren, four dogs, three cats, two horses, and a llama. She may have meant the chicken and rooster also as well as the rabbits. I, however, have omitted them. Perhaps I could omit the horses and llama also as they did not sleep inside with us even if they did peer in the window from time to time. The four dogs and three cats will have to be part of the story under these rules however. They did share the same roof as us.
The reason for this invitation was, I believe, some of the Christmas gifts I gave Chris and Ace. I kept the two of them quite busy on Christmas day opening a kazillion presents, each individually wrapped, that had nearly no value at all: a half dozen boxes of various teas, various biscuits, candies, biscottis, coffees, cookies, et cetera. There were at least two dozen little treats.
The impetus for this odd assortment of snacks was the nook they have in their little farmhouse. The kitchen and dining room, as is so often the case on farms, is the largest room in the house, and one corner of which forms a delightful little nook. A great picture window looks out across a snowy field to the woods beyond and, when they are walking by, provide a window into the human world for the horses and 'Big Mama' the Llama. Chris and Ace each have a chair and a lamp on either side of this window and the walls are lined with book cases. On Ace's side is also a writing desk and on Chris' a sewing machine. Close at hand is the wood stove which heats the home and which keeps this area warm and cozy. Chris and Ace often spend their evenings ensconced in this area reading their evenings away once the kids are in bed. There is no cable television this far from town and no reception by aerial. While television could be had with a satellite receiver they have opted not to get it. This is a decision I applaud as I also applaud their decision not to get Internet which also could be gotten by a broadband receiver off of Dragon Mountain. Now they do indeed have a television set and they have an extensive movie collection as well as a large DVD collection of children's television shows and movies but the truth is that television is, as far as I can tell, the least used television in British Columbia. The children play among themselves and Chris and Ace spend their evenings doing projects or reading in their nook.
The nook, prompted by the snacks, was the reason for my invite. I was invited out to spend the night enjoying the quiet, the solitude, the nook, dinner and an evening of reading in the nook. It was an offer I immediately accepted.
Christina cooked one of the best meals I have eaten in a long time, a tremendous pork loin that was slow roasted and repeatedly basted with a peach jam that was absolutely delicious and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The pork was accompanied by a black, sweet rice, brussel sprouts, and a salad all of which was washed down with delightfully sweet and cold well water and, yes, good water is a wonderful accompaniment to a meal. I don't know where Chris learned to cook. I know it wasn't her mother. "It was a tremendous meal, Chris. Thank you."
Before dinner while Chris cooked and Ace worked in his shop on a project and after dinner while the two of them looked after farm chores I did indeed have an opportunity to read and in and enjoy the nook. Later, when the children were in bed, we moved to the living room to talk.
After dinner Bobbie, a neighbor's dog, came to visit. I have written about the dogs who come calling before. They show up for a visit at Chris' house just like humans do. A scratch at the door and they are welcomed in where they greet the human inhabitants and then play, or perhaps even nap, with Chris' dogs. Bobbie is a cute and good tempered Collie cross who came to visit that evening. Being a new acquaintances, Bobbie gave me a lot of attention through sniffs and looks. I must have passed inspection because she was soon leaping up to lick my face or trying to climb into my lap as I read. Bobbie politely ate the meal that was offered to her when Chris' dogs were fed and then joined them splayed out in the floor before the stove for a nap. Later, when Chris' dogs were put out for a while to do their business, Bobbie went out with them, hung out on the porch for a while and then, apparently, said her goodbyes in dog speak and went home for the rest of the night. I am told she is a regular visitor no different than the human friends and family that drop by.
At night in the winter sound travels great distances. Chris and her family are a long, long way from town but the Nazko Road is near by. There must have been no traffic out to Tibbles Creek or the Nazko Indian Reserve that New Year's night. I did not hear one car all night. In fact, I hear nothing all night except the lowing of the neighbor's cattle and the occasional 'thump' as the horses and llama made their way into their barn for the night. For once even the rooster had shut up and after we had gone to bed the only sound was the occasional report from the wood stove. It was a deliciously warm and quiet night.
The evening before I had slept wrong and pinched a nerve in my shoulder and was in complete agony. I nearly cancelled out from this visit but instead took my bottle of Tylenol 3's and Ibuprofen and went anyway. I was taking pain killers as much as allowed and I did not sleep a wink all night at Chris the pain was so great but none-the-less, I thoroughly enjoyed my night and if I could not drop off to sleep I could rest as much as I could and enjoy the night with my family which was what I did.
The next morning after we were up, coffeed, and breakfasted it was back to town as the kids had swimming lessons and my visit to the farm had come to an end. Or, rather come to an end for this time. I think my visits will become a regular event and I will look forward to them.
(Originally posted to Multiply January 3, 2009)