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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« andy & christine bbq | Main | settling in »

farm good-bye

The house on the left is where Jeff and I lived for a while, out in the Hockley Valley near Orangeville, Ontario. After about a year, we moved into another house on the family compound. Allison and Jodi used to come up to visit with their husbands; we'd spend the weekends playing music, hiking in the forest, having picnics out in the sunshine. If you listen to the lyrics of Allison's song on our second album, "Days We Spend Together", she mentions these weekends.

Anyway, the property has just been sold, and we had a big farewell bash there this past weekend. The party was massive, with more people than at our wedding...friends, family, neighbours. Our friend Scott D. flew in from Ireland specifically for the event. And he finally got to meet Scott M. :-)

The two little girls in front of the house are my nieces Brittany and Olivia.

Lots of swimming, walking around the pond, hot tubbing, munching on burgers, frisbee golf, and just hanging out. Sadly, I could only stay for the first part of the party before I had to leave to fly back to Philly.

It was pretty tough leaving, knowing I'd likely not see the place again. I took a cab to the airport, using the new "Call-A-Cab" service offered in Orangeville. I cried quietly in the backseat during the first half hour, not wanting to start any kind of personal conversation with the driver, even if he was a very nice young fellow named Sean who admitted that he had driven to the airport only once before.

"Allergies?" he asked cheerfully at one point.

"Um...yeah," I mumbled.

"I get them, too," said Sean, shaking his head in sympathy.

What is it about a place that makes us put down roots, tearing us up inside when we know we're leaving it for good? Memories? The people? Love of the land? More likely a combination, I think.

I remember when we first moved out to the Hockley Valley together. How citified I felt, looking out across the fields and farm houses. Our neighbour from across the road, a dairy farmer, invited me to come view the spring calves...I knew I was being tested as I walked across the field of manure, each boot squelching as I yanked it up out of the muck, determined not to flinch. She and her husband were at the party on Sunday.

I remember skating on the pond in the winter, arms flailing (I'm not a very good skater), closing my eyes and hearing the trees tinkle with ice.

I remember I did gardening back then, poring over seed catalogs in the winter, excitedly opening the packets when they arrived in the spring and planting them in the rich soil, batting ineffectually at the blackflies circling my head. I remember spending over an hour painstakingly transplanting what I had assumed was a type of flower but found out (to my acute embarrassment) was actually a common type weed.

I remember gathering bunches of lily of the valley in the spring and bringing them inside so their fragrance would fill the house.

I remember our wedding beneath the willow trees on the other side of the pond nine years ago (nine years ago yesterday, in fact :-)). How it rained in the morning but cleared to a brilliant blue sky in the early afternoon. Our friends and family gathered on the grass, a music quartet (Quartetto Gelato, who weren't nearly as well known back then) providing accompaniment while I clutched my father's arm as we walked slowly across the bridge, my only thought at the time being, "don't fall off the bridge don't fall off the bridge".

Kind of weird to think that it's been nine years since that day. Jeff and I are planning to go on a special trip to celebrate our tenth anniversary next year; not sure where, yet. This year, I suggested that we just spend the weekend in Toronto, eating sushi at Fune, browsing through through Chapters, seeing a movie or two at the Paramount. We'll also be dropping by a bbq party at Andy and Christine's (Andy's the scary-looking bearded guy in the picture above, with my ex-officemate Doug).

Other photos today: Helen in the frisbee golf tournament, Luisa mugging for the camera, kids in the hot tub (Brittany is to the far right).

Have a great weekend, everyone! I promised Jeff I'd stay offline for the rest of the day... :-)

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