Years ago in 1973 my wife and I moved from Saint Croix Cove, Nova Scotia to Tay Creek, New Brunswick. It was a big move for us. Saint Croix Cove was a tiny spot not particularly friendly to outsiders unless you married into the community.
Tay Creek was a wonderful community that accepted us with open arms. It was a totally different atmosphere, and we loved it. Our farm was tucked in on a hillside just about the Tay River. Part of the joy of living in our little spot just twenty miles north of Fredericton, the provincial capital, was that the previous owners of our farm moved just down the hill from us.
For most of their lives Harvey and Thelma farmed the ground where we were now living. They became great friends and mentors. In the summer Harvey was the one person whom I hired to help me with haying. Harvey went from the world of modified horse drawn equipment pulled behind a small tractor to being comfortable raking a field with a 21 ft rake behind a huge International tractor. He handled the change well and he was a great worker.
He was also quite willing to prod me into spring shores like fencing which was never one of my favorite pastimes. Harvey also helped me build a couple of large barns. We became good friends and swatted a lot of black flies in the woods together.
It took him a while to believe in my theory of running our cattle in the woods instead of penning them up in damp barns in the winter. However, when he saw how healthy the cattle were and how much less work it required, he was all for it.
There were a few things that I always tried to do to keep Harvey happy. One was to clean the snow from his driveway before I even finished mine. About the time the snow would stop flying, I would see Harvey come outside with his snow scoop and start cleaning the snow away from the front of his garage. That was so that I did not have to get my huge 100 HP tractor too close to his garage doors.
I never hesitated when I saw Harvey signal with his scoop. I would pull on my snow suit, and unplug the block heater from the tractor, fire up the big diesel engine, and blow my way out of our driveway, The big tractor cleaned Harvey's driveway up in about four or five passes. Then I would head back up the hill stopping only to clean a little around his mail box.
Only then would I start cleaning our own driveway and then blow the road out to the cattle. The road was over a mile long and I had to blow it each way to keep it open.
There was one thing that Harvey and I disagreed on and that was turkey soup. I love turkey soup. My wife, Glenda, makes some of the best in the world. I never tasted Thelma's turkey soup, but sometimes early in the morning, often just after day light, I would see Harvey sneaking out to the woods with a turkey carcass. He would never take a chance that it might end up as soup. He would make sure that it disappeared into the woods before Thelma got her morning coffee.
I always got a good chuckle out of it and would kid him about it. He was serious about not eating turkey soup, but he took the kidding with a smile. Harvey died several years ago, but every time we have turkey soup I think about him. In fact in my mind's eye, I can still see him heading to the woods with a bag of turkey bones.
Glenda tried a new way of cooking a turkey recently. We both looked at the carcass and prounced it devoid of any further use. It looked like it had already been boiled for soup so I took the carcass out on a plate and raked it into Raymond's Gut behind our home. We've found that the blue crabs and other creatures of the marsh clean up all the bones that we drop in the water.
As I was scrapping the bones into the water, I got the feeling that Harvey was smiling down on me. I hope he noticed that I still have a snow scoop like he used in Canada. It was invaluable when we lived in Roanoke,Virginia. I only keep it for memories down here on the coast.
The memories are good ones. There will be more of them in my forthcoming book on my recent trip to New Brunswick.
North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks is a long away from Tay Creek and our cattle farm, but the people are much the same. I love it here even more than I did in New Brunswick, but the weather and absence of black flies have a lot to do with that.
Here it is easy to dream about summer even in the winter. There's no way you would go on a boat ride in January in New Brunswick. There also are not many warm walks along a boardwalk this time of year up there either.
Read more about the Crystal Coast, that part of the Southern Outer Banks where we live, at this page which also provides links to some of my other writing.