Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summer at Clear Sky

We arrived at the Clear Sky Meditation and Study Centre to hugs from Richard and the rest of the gang. The members there have become my second family after my 2 month meditation retreat in the spring. Without further ado, we got to work and started helping out. Unlike my quiet solitary experience in February, this summer was spent with non-stop work. Much of July was spent in the kitchen cooking meals for upwards of 25 people, with Adrian as my primary assistant cook. Richard kicked into building mode and organized a 2 day building course to teach totally inexperienced men and women how to build a garden shed. They then applied this learning to building a 2 story root cellar. Everyone appreciated how talented and patient Richard was with all the new learners, and he enjoyed plaing boss and educator for a change.

Within a few weeks, the saskatoon berries began to ripen, and I became animated Saskatoon Girl! From never having seen this berry before to being its biggest advocate and marketer in a week flat. I started surfing the web and found countless saskatoon berry recipes, particularly jams and jellies. I spent a couple of weeks fighting public health beaurocracy and eventually got permission to sell these "value-added products" at the local farmer's markets. The picking season lasted barely 3 weeks, but we were out every day picking and then processing. All in all, we sold over $2000 worth of jams, jellies, juices, pies, and a quickly-famous chutney with this glorious wild berry. I even made a lovely cordial from this berry, and put in a gallon of wine for sipping next summer, just to test out its alcoholic properties.

Richard, Adrian, and I rented a lovely 3-room cabin just 10 minutes down the road, and were able to have a little family time at the end of each day. Sometimes we played guitar, sometimes we built campfires and ate marshmallows, and sometimes we just collapsed into bed, tired and happy.

Adrian had a wonderful summer alternating between hanging out with the adults, spending time alone in nature, and helping out with tasks like cooking and jam making. When nothing else was happening, he'd escape to the linen closet on the 3rd floor under the eves and play computer games on the internet or watch Corner Gas episodes. He calls it his best summer ever for seeing animals. While out on walks by himself and the dog he got to see 2 wolves track down a deer, a mother grizzley bear and 3 babies, and a daddy grizzley, not to mention countless deer, elk, mountain goats, mountain longhorned sheep, and some beautiful birds which he meticulously looked up in books and learned to identify. While not the most social time for him, he did get into the Cranbrook Skatepark weekly and hung out with the local kids a bit. And he learned that it's rude to wear his hat at the dining room table, something he had never quite learned at our house.

All in all, we enjoyed good family time, and despite the hard work, we were all relaxed and happy and had plenty of time outdoors. So it was a good summer.

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