I love this legend. This was the reason why I started bringing in the flower books to the hospital when Dad was so sick. I was trying to remember the story but was falling (very) short. I felt so badly for dad who had gone to so much work to put together all of these treasures so that we could remember what he taught us forever. So now this story to me is more than just a beautiful legend, but a treasured memory of time with my dad.
Blackfoot legend retold by Annora Brown, photos by John Ramsay.
Honestly, these letters make me realize how pathetic my social life is, and not because of Covid. He says he hasn’t had enough exciting to write about, and then describes more activity than I’ve seen in like 3 years haha. I am much relieved though 70 years later to not be the one ratting out my uncle for climbing out the window, instead it was the other kids (it’s always the other kids). Seriously, these Mount Royal days sound like a lot of fun.
Writing Marsh in these letters feels a little bit like the time, years ago, when my son touched my cousin’s husband’s moustache. We were all frozen with fascination and horror, but knew that it was something that shouldn’t happen and never, ever would again.
My uncle would have been almost 16 when he wrote this letter (mom would have been 12.5) and it seems his love of airplanes had already started. I absolutely love that he was going to take his airplane engine into the hospital to show her. I would imagine that would have given everyone there something to talk about!!
Mount Royal College
May 12, 1953
I’m sure sorry that I didn’t write much sooner but I just don’t seem to be able to think up enough things to tell you that would be worth while to put in a letter. Last night before I got the last card you sent me I started to write a letter but just before that I had a wrestling match with Bernard. We were so evenly matched that the fight went on for a long time until both of us were too tired to fight anymore. I started to write you but fell asleep for the whole study period so I had to do my homework this morning after breakfast.
Last night the other two boys in the suite with Wayne and I crawled out of the window and got in their car and went across the bridge to get some milk-shakes. When I woke up there was a milkshake waiting for me. They’re darn lucky they didn’t get caught. The window to the suite is very easy to get in and out of as they sure make use of it. I haven’t used it yet but I think I will soon, just for the fun of it.
Last Saturday I was plowing with the new John Deere and boy is it slick. To trip the new plow, instead of pulling on a rope you just push the hydraulic lever ahead which pumps oil into a cylinder on the plow and trips it. I suppose that you do not understand all that lingo but it works on that principal. There is only room for one person to ride on it because it is a big high tractor like this:
We just started to plow on Saturday. Bill and Ken are going at it full force now I guess. It’s still pretty wet out there though.
Well, we sure got a big slug of calves now. Must be 250. I’ve got 27 I think and should have three more coming.
Last Saturday I got Red in to ride and he hasn’t been rode for quite a spell so when I climbed on I had to pull leather for a while because every time I went to grab the horn it wasn’t there. Well I sure rode him when I got everything straightened out. He never piled me though, but I guess that ain’t my fault.
I’m truing to sell these Stampede Queen tickets, butI guess I aren’t a very good salesman. That is the most hopeless job there ever was. I’ve had them a month and only sold two of them.
Did I tell you that I bought a little airplane engine? It’s a real internal combustion engine that is like a car motor. It burns high octane gasoline. I am mounting it in a boat which is a model cruiser. It should go about 15 miles per hour. I will bring it in to show you on Sunday. I started it up this afternoon and it sure roared. Tonight in study period I was fooling around with it and I accidentally started it. I sure was scared and I couldn’t shut it off. I grabbed the flywheel to stall it and the thing only turns over about 10,000 times every minute so I slightly burned my thumb but I finally got it stopped! I was sure scared the study teacher would hear because it makes an awful roar.
See you Sunday xxx
It should come to no surprise to those who know me that angry men intimidate me. I think as a single woman this would probably be true anyway, but I lived in a war zone with a man who raged at and threatened me on a regular basis, so there’s a lot of trauma that I’ve been working through since I left (thank goodness for therapy).
Yesterday when we were driving home we saw that there were tons of swans on the slough, and that there were tons of people stopped to watch them. It’s a happy sight for the most part, the swans have been missing the last few years, and since we have all been home more I know they bring joy to so many people.
As we drove by, there were a few people climbing the fence to go in the field to get closer to the swans. Trespassing isn’t really a great thing at the best of times, but there were two newborn calves right beside where everyone was climbing and it’s not a good idea to get between a mom and her baby.
So we stopped and asked the people to please stand on the outside of the field. They were super polite and apologetic – and like I said, I get it- seeing the swans is so exciting and we need a pick me up now more than ever.
But, as I was chatting with them, a man who was probably 10 years older than I am walked by us and started climbing the fence. I asked him politely to please not go into the field. He looked at me and kept climbing. I asked him again, and he said well, he was just going to walk along the road (in the field) then. I said no, the road was IN the field which made it trespassing, and pointed to the calves right beside him and explained that it wasn’t safe to be in the field with the calves.
He then asked me if I owned the land. I said yes (I don’t but it’s family land and I live right beside it). He said he didn’t believe me, and started yelling that he could do what he wanted because I was lying. I pointed to my house and said I lived right there and that he was welcome to follow me home if he didn’t believe me (while crapping my pants because who wants a crazy person following them home?). He said the only way he would stay out of the field is if he had proof it was my land. I responded by saying if it wasn’t my land why would I be standing here being an asshole? He stood there glaring at me for several more minutes before taking a quick photo and leaving.
As this was going down I heard the other people standing there laughing, and heard them comment what a rude person he was and how there was clearly a gender issue going on. I have to say, as things got deeper I was pretty glad I wasn’t there alone because that man was going out of his way to intimidate me.
So, here’s the happiness moment in this. First of all, I stood my ground to the man who was trying to intimidate and bully me. Secondly, I had some great conversations with the other people looking at the swans. Thirdly, the people besides “angry man” who were there were really kind and nice people who genuinely seemed to enjoy being out watching the swans. Finally, I got to see swans and calves which really along with crocuses (still haven’t seen this year) is my sure signs of spring.
A friend sent me a photo of crocuses growing in his field this morning. Spring! I have such great memories of crocus hunting with my dad and sister. Then to celebrate the sun being out, the girl and I stopped in for peanut buster parfaits – because sometimes you just have to do these things.
We are all content. This is good.
Today was absolutely bursting with all kinds of different emotions. Before May 28, 2015; this date was just another day on the calendar. Now it is wrapped up with memories of Dad and the day he died. There was so much intensity those last few days, weeks, months… and then there are all the memories we cherish and carry with us of him and the light he shone in the world. To balance those intense feelings, we attended a huge family celebration for my uncle and aunt in honour of their 60th wedding anniversary. Life keeps on going, and there are always joyful moments and sad moments mixed in with each other.
Mom and I spent some quite time by “dad’s tree” in the garden. The last few days he was home the blossoms seemed to hang right over him, wrapping him and the rest of us up in the change of season. It seemed like a fitting place to sit for a while this morning and spend some quality time with memories of Dad.
Having a family party in the afternoon really brought perfect balance to the day. This tribe that we have – they are so amazing and we are so blessed to be part of such a group of people. The way this large family comes together is quite special an unique and I couldn’t imagine living life any differently – I love knowing that we are part of this huge tribe.
There is always happiness to be found if you remember to look for it. The happiness this afternoon was as clear and as loud as our laughter. The happiness this morning was more subdued, in the form of memories, and gratitude for a man we love so dearly.
We had a pre-Mother’s Day day today. My sister and her kids came down and we all spent some time together. I get to see them so much more often now than when we were living away, but it still does not feel like often enough. I’m grateful, however, because the kids and aunts (and uncle when he can come too) all know each other so much better.
I also spent some solo time in my garden this morning getting it ready. My garden is a huge source of joy all summer long and it’s really exciting to get it started. Seeds go in tomorrow and then it’s weeding and watering while we wait patiently to eat the produce.
We had a family meal this evening and I thought as I looked around the table how grateful that this is the family I come from. Everything I know about love, strength, trust, and faith is rooted in these people at the core of my tribe. That is happiness.
Oh, and finally I saw a crocus in our field – there have been others in the area for a while, but this is the first home one and that is special. It is spring!