All spring, even before the last of the snowbanks finally disappeared, a meadowlark has frequently been on a fence post close to my back door. Not too significant, perhaps, but meadowlarks have always reminded me of my dad. He loved to hear them in the springtime and would stop when we were out walking in the pasture and listen.
Now, though Dad’s been gone for many years, the song of the meadowlark on a spring morning or evening can quickly take me back to those walks in the fields or pastures. Life seemed quieter and more serene in those days, undoubtedly, because as a farm kid, although we had our chores and our occasional crisis, we had parents who smoothed the path when they could, and taught us the enjoyment of our surroundings as we were growing up.
Dad was a farmer, busy with the daily routines of seeding, growing and harvest, so we often only saw him briefly at mealtimes during the busy seasons, but he provided dependable stability in his own quiet way and it wasn’t until I was grown up and away from home on my own that I truly appreciated his steadying influence. Although a lot of the day-to-day decisions about our activities fell to Mom because of the busy farming seasons, Dad usually had the last word about anything controversial and without exception would side with Mom, so we knew we were up against an undivided front if there was something a little bit questionable. No possibility of breaking through that barrier!
Dad also taught me tolerance, not by preaching at me, but just in his quiet acceptance of the differences in other folk’s opinions, although he didn’t always agree and would say so, if questioned. I don’t remember him ever having arguments that resulted in long-term disagreements but I do recall instances where he felt he had to take a stand, and usually things worked out to every-one’s satisfaction.
Our community was small, so everyone participated, or there wouldn’t have been the social activities so important in getting people together. Our dances at the school were always well attended, and on occasion when our lane was impassable because of snow, Mom and Dad would take two toboggans so we could ride part of the way if we got tired before we got to the car, parked at the end of the lane, and get to the dance that way. Babysitters were unknown, even the youngest kids went to the dances and played with their friends till they got tired enough to be bedded down on Mom’s coat in the cloakroom. Dad was an excellent old-time waltzer, and I often wished I had paid more attention when we danced occasionally. And going home on a cold, crisp January night was just part of the adventure, with younger brother and sister on the toboggans sometimes, or, trotting along watching for jackrabbits playing in the moonlight.
So many small happenings on the old farm remind me of my dad and my happy childhood, not the least of which is the meadowlark, every spring morning, or in the quiet of a summer twilight. For this and so much more – thanks, Dad! – Edie Mowat writes from Brandon, Manitoba