Category Archives: Raspberries

Only Child on building and removing neighbourhood fences

Front of my yard onto street - no fences

Front of my yard onto street this spring – no fences

Good fences make good neighbours. That old American proverb is playing out in my neighbourhood.

Across the street a lady who has lived there with her son for a couple of years and hasn’t exactly been friendly with the neighbours is having a big, big fence built. She does talk to her next door neighbours, my friends Carol and Al. Good thing because at least she consulted Carol and Al about this fence. Al is keeping an eye on it and talks to the guy putting up the fence. Carol showed me this huge fence dividing the backyards. The fence looks over 8 feet high, well over the requirements for a backyard with a swimming pool, which this backyard doesn’t have…yet. The fence is solid wood, not lattice and continues at the back of this neighbour’s driveway at the entrance to her backyard. If I understood Carol correctly, the fence is supposed to extend along their neighbour’s driveway right out to the street. That means it will be against Carol’s lawn, making it look ugly.

So far there has been no sign of this fence extension and the fencers haven’t been around for over a week. Fences around front lawns usually look awful. It makes me think the people are building walls to keep out everyone, as if to say – nobody allowed here except us who live here.

Lower fences, ranch style in front look okay and if you have a corner property, higher fences are a good idea. People like to run onto corner properties and throw garbage on them. But make the fences the steel chain line ones. That’s what most of the neighbours on the corners have built.

Contrast this with my neighbour behind my next door neighbour. Yesterday morning he was actively tearing down the old fence dividing his property and my next door neighbour’s. He was over in the next door neighbour’s backyard. As I picked the annual crop of black raspberries (yes it is that time of summer), I wondered if I should say something to him. But I didn’t’ just then. A bit later when I was sitting at my patio table and eating breakfast, he called me over. In his hand he held a bunch of invasive weeds which he had pulled. He started talking about that and we introduced ourselves. Gary has been there also two years and has been getting to know his neighbours since. He knew something about the neighbours behind me that I didn’t know. He offered to pull those weeds from my garden along the fence from my side – with my permission. I said I had done a big sweep pulling weeds before the raspberries came out, but give it a week or two and when the raspberries are finished he could do so. We also talked about the racoons who are taking over the neighbourhood and he said they even tore open a bag of bonemeal he had on his deck. I asked him if my next-door neighbours knew he was in their yard. He said, “yes” and the two of them were going to build the replacement fence together.

A fence made of wood lattice – with open spaces in it.

What a difference a neighbour makes.

Good fences make good neighbours.

Which neighbour would you rather have?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Open front yard only Raggedy Annie on guard

Open front yard only Raggedy Annie on guard

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Filed under Friends, Gardening, Home and Garden, Only child, Raspberries, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Grateful for Garden and Friends

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child's front garden

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child’s front garden

You’re getting some garden photos today. From this spring and summer. Friends’ photos coming up in a future blog post.

But both are connected in one way. I am grateful for both.

Let me clarify.

First my friends, my real friends, not the so-called friends like “Lois” who think they can control my life. On Saturday, my friend Bob picked me up at the Finch subway station. We were en route to Aurora for an old newspaper journalist reunion. While driving, Bob told me he was glad I was finding some peace with that church I had blogged about recently.

My first thought was “church.” I’m not a church-goer. I’m no longer Catholic or even Christian. Then my aging-brain kicked in. The Buddhist temple I had visited and meditated in during Toronto’s Doors Open May 23. I had blogged about it just after

https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/only-child-finds-a-little-piece-of-peace/

 

Bob said that he knows I have been through a lot in my life and he was hoping I would find some peace and that might be with that church. I replied “I plan to go back but there hasn’t been time.” He said he hoped that I would. I’m planning to this Saturday.

Thank you Bob. I meant to tell you this on the way to Aurora, but the conversation got distracted and old minds sometimes operate like the proverbial gnats.

Bob and I have been friends for years. He was one of my first editors at one of the community newspapers I wrote for in York Region when I lived in Aurora (not quite in the grey ages – the latter is my school days). He has listened to me rant about everything from house problems to nasty people in my life (Lois doesn’t quite fit in that bad category, but the boarder that lived here from summer 2013 to October 2014 does), to – well you name it. He has also come to many of my son Martin’s gigs with the various bands he has played in over the years

The garden is my refuge and my delight (weeds and all – you don’t want to know the number of containers and bags of weeds and tree and shrub branches in the last yard waste pickup). As I daily pick the many black raspberries, pot plants, water potted plants and just sit out and enjoy the garden while eating meals or reading or just sitting, I am grateful. Sure, we have had a lot of rain, but it has eased off the last week or so. Some rain and possible thunderstorms due later today so I hope I won’t be eating my words here. But when I see on TV and the Internet all those forest fires burning out of control in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatoon and find out the number of people being evacuated, I guess we are pretty lucky here in southern Ontario, at least up to now. We have greenery, lovely flowers, and fresh food growing in the gardens and on the farms. Out west it is fire and smoke and air pollution and fear of losing your home.

The Weather Network showed a map of the fires and within listed the culprits causing the fires. The furthest east was “Person caused.” The rest were caused by weather (read “God”). The sense of justice in me wants the guilty parties to pay. But we’ll never find the person who caused some of the fires. My hope is that God will bring the necessary rain (sans thunder and lightning) to put all the fires out. And keep the wind away. Unfortunately, current weather forecasts show T-storms and wind.

Meantime, back in gardenland here, I will continue to enjoy my garden. But still keep a couple of wary eyes on the weather.

 

Cheers

Roses early summer in front garden

Roses early summer in front garden

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family and Friends, Forest Fires Western Canada, Fresh produce, Friends, Gardening, God, Help and Support, Meditation, Only child, Peace and quiet, Raspberries, Weather

Only Child muses on raspberries and roses

Burgundy Iris among the white roses in Only Child’s front garden

I’m discovering new ways to relax in my garden. I don’t have to just sit out in the garden, looking and reading. I can relax while I’m doing. Just as well because my raspberries have appeared two weeks early this year because of our early summer weather. So for the next few weeks I’ll be out there almost daily picking raspberries.

Then there are the roses. The white ones in front were spreading their branches and flowers all over the place including over my driveway. I don’t drive but some of my friends do, so to avoid any vehicles brushes against the roses, I cut the bushes back.

It hurt me to do so. But as I trimmed them back, the process turned into almost a meditation, a ritual. And this morning when I went out in full raspberry-picking gear (long pants, long sleeves and wide-brimmed hat to avoid getting scratches from the branches) much the same thing happened. Instead of rushing through it all like I was battling time, it turned relaxing – even when I dropped a berry; I thought, “That’s one for the birds.”

I’m not sure my late mother actually sat and relaxed in her garden, except when I was a toddler –and here the photos tell that story. Mom was always out in the garden picking red raspberries, beans, and currants, until she persuaded me to do so. I loved picking beans and raspberries, but not the currants. They don’t taste good raw and they seem to attract bees. Mother’s busyness in her garden paid off in the many fresh raspberries, plus her own version of canned currant jam and jelly and mustard beans – the latter I’ve never been able to find since. And unlike me, she pruned her raspberry bushes properly so she didn’t have to pick in a maze the next season. I use the “hit or miss” procedure although I do keep in the new shoots for next year’s berries and cut back the deadwood – what I can reach. Somehow I don’t get it as smooth and clean as Mom did.

Maybe, Mom did relax in her garden after all – by picking berries and trimming the bushes.

Then there were her rose bushes – but that’s for another post.

For now, those of you in Canada, enjoy the July 1 Canada Day holiday weekend coming up and those in the United States, enjoy your July 4 holiday…in a garden, if possible. Next week I’ll get more serious. Meantime, I’ve added a few more pictures of my garden.

Enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Fushia pink roses by the sidewalk of Only Child’s house

Poppies popping up among the chives by Only Child’s veranda

Front view by steps to veranda shows yarrow, coral bells, chives under the boxwood. Raggedy Annie among the rosebushes is in the background.

Only Child as a toddler in the backyard with her late Mom who is sitting in the Muskoka chair.

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Filed under black raspberries, Fruit, Gardening, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Mother, Mother and Child, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Raspberries, Roses, Sharon Crawford

Only Child learns lessons from picking raspberries

Only Child's black raspberries and bush up close

My black raspberries are out in abundance. Every day I’m out there picking and picking raspberries. I learned a few summers back to dress for the occasion if I didn’t want want my arms and legs to resemble being mauled by a tiger. So, out I go wearing jeans, a long-sleeved blouse, running shoes and a floppy hat, and later dripping sweat.

There’s an art to reaching in and around the heavy bushes to get at the ripe raspberries without dropping the yogurt container I use to collect the berries. There is also an art to pruning the bushes in the fall and my Mom seemed to grasp it automatically. As I write in my memoir

Mom tackled bushes, in particular, her raspberry bushes gone wild, down the other neighbour’s side of the garden and behind our garage, ready to tango with the hedge dividing garden from lawn. Mom marches out with the pruning shears and cuts branches in snips and starts.

“They’re getting all over the place,” she mumbles. Snip. Snip.

I watch in bewilderment, no idea how she decides. She just knows.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

I sure don’t know what I’m doing when I prune the raspberry bushes in the autumn. I prune the branches that bore raspberries the past summer because they are done. I also prune any growing too thick. Somehow, I really missed something last fall as this year’s raspberries are too bushy.

Not complaining – I’m getting more berries and I’m sharing with my son and his girlfriend and my friends next door…and eating lots and freezing lots.

But all this raspberry picking has taught me some lessons – many can be applied to life in general and running a small business in particular. So, here are the lessons of my black raspberries.

1. Patience

2. Persistence.

3. Generosity and sharing.

4. Dressing appropriately for the occasion.

5. Preserving food for winter, which could also be saving money

5. Eating fresh berries well within the 100-mile diet.

6. My bit for the organic movement – I don’t spray my raspberry bushes.

7. Health benefits from eating raspberries – high in antioxidants and may help prevent cancer. See http://www.naturalnews.com/black_raspberries.html for more information.

8. Health benefits from picking raspberries – the zen effect of the continuous picking of the berries and being out in the garden away from traffic – cars and people.

But I won’t have the benefit my late Mom had – properly-pruned bushes making it easier to get at the berries.

Here’s the rub – I have many more berries to share and enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under antioxidants, black raspberries, cancer, Gardening, Health, Only child, Only child memoir, Raspberries