All in all it was a good trip, despite the sad circumstances... It was wonderful to see all of Sandy's family again, in particular it was great to get to know her two sister-in-laws, Vicki and Christine - two very special ladies. There were 17 of us who journeyed from N.B. to be there to support the family at the Memorial Service and burial. We all felt that we were warmly included as part of the family; we shared many hugs and tears, as well as stories and laughter. I think we were "good for each other"... We were all warmly hosted by family and friends/neighbours.
I so enjoyed having some extra time to explore the area, in particular the area north and west of Kitchener-Waterloo - what most know as "Mennonite country". I travelled west to Shakespeare and Stratford as well as north to Wellesley, Millbank, Hesson, Newton and St. Clements, Heidleberg, Elmira and St. Jacobs. Most of the farms in this area belong to Mennonites, many of them the Old Order. So that means black buggies on the roads, signs at the ends of driveways for maple syrup, fresh eggs, and quilts, and interesting names on mailboxes such as Schantz, Roth, Wagler, Klassen, Ropp, Yantzi, Bender, Kuepfer, Zehr, and Weber. I love driving through farm country anywhere, but this area of southwestern Ontario is special and dear to my heart. Seeing horse-drawn plows, Mennonite ladies in long dresses, aprons and bonnets out with shovels and hoes beginning to work the soil for their vegetable gardens, or hanging out their wash on very long clotheslines... I saw so many photos I would love to have taken, but the Mennonites don't like to have their photos taken and I respected that, difficult as it was. One image I will always remember was when I passed the school in Millbank - the children , all old order Mennonites, were out in the schooolyard; many were raking the grounds, some were picking up branches, several older boys were giving small boys wheelbarrow rides... it was just sooo charming. I drove by several times and it was all I could do to NOT pick up my camera.
Another very special memory for me is the time I got to spend with Sandy's two brothers, Max and Mark, and their families on their farms at Punkeydoodles Corner. Mark raises grass-fed beef cattle, which he sells to high end Toronto restaurants. His wife Christine is a potter who has a huge outdoor kiln - the only one of it's kind in Ontario; they have just finished the first firing - quite a process, and very exciting. A recent tornado ripped part of the roof off one of their barns, which has put them a bit behind on the building of a new studio for Christine....
Max has horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys and a very handsome rooster named Charlie ! (He was very co-operative in posing for me.) Max is an excellent cook, or rather Chef, and has a kitchen to die for, with his own smoke oven - he did a wonderful meal for all of us on Friday night - featuring herbed chicken and smoked chicken - both just melted in your mouth.... His wife Vicki works outside the home, so Max is sort of a "Mr. Mom" Dad. I felt privileged to have the chance to get to know these brothers and their wives a bit better, and I cannot forget their wonderful children Maddy, Joe, Owen and Ava. Ava, the youngest had a small part in a movie being filmed locally on Sunday. She is an avid horse-lover and got to take part with other young riders from the area, so that was pretty exciting for her... Joe, Owen and Ava all have their birthdays this week- Happy Birthday, kids!
Sandy's family will always have a very special place in my heart, and I feel at peace knowing that Sandy now is resting in the place she loved, beautiful Punkeydoodles Corner.
In my next post I will tell you about my visits to the Quilt Shops, and some of the quilts I saw... Until then...
Peace and Love,
"Cherish your family for they are your treasure; a storehouse of riches....wealth beyond measure."