Its Here

The view from out patio door this morning.

This post doesn’t need a lot of words. Everyone has different emotions with the coming of the first snow. Today, November 11 2011 its here. From what the weather forecasters are saying, the snow won’t be staying. These snowflakes are just the scouts for the larger army that’s sure to come.


A Sobering Weekend

This past weekend was one that really caused me to stop and think again about life and blessing. Big things were going on in the world. Libya was coming to the end of a bloody rebellion, world finances continued to be in crisis, the stock markets appeared to be free-falling, in Somalia children continue to die as a result of the drought there. All of these things, while very important and frightening seem far away from our little, generally blessed, part of the world.

Sunday changed that as a tornado ripped through the central part of our county landing squarely on the downtown of the county seat, Goderich.  The tornado came ashore from Lake Huron a mere 22km (as the bird flies) from where we were celebrating my father’s 75th birthday. To stay out of the rain, which was thundering down, we were all in the drive-in shed. Since the wind had picked up, someone decided to close the doors. The rain on the tin roof obliterated all other sounds. If the tornado had come our way, we would not have noticed until it took the shed away.  Looking at the pictures coming from Goderich, it is a wonder that more people were not seriously injured or killed

And then Monday the announcement of the death Jack Layton. I had never personally met Jack. For a while in the 90’s we were members of the New Democratic Party and over the years have watched as Jack rose from Toronto city council to leader of the federal NDP and leader of the official opposition this past fall. His initial fight with cancer and his broken hip were reasonably public events. His death surprised me. It had only been a month since he stepped away from his public duties.  There had been no updates about his condition and suddenly he is gone. He could likely win the election today.

We were celebrating a birthday while Goderich was ruined, while Jack struggled through his final hours. It was a good celebration for us as a family. Things have not always been easy in my dad’s 75 years. The things happening around us remind us just how fragile the things we take for granted really are and how quickly our lives can change. We are again reminded about where we find our only comfort.

While writing this post, a truck has come up our driveway pulling a trailer loaded with wood from Goderich. The trailer has a flat tire. I have helped get the tire off and a little later will help these guys get it back on and down the road. My little contribution to the repair of the town.

Another Walk

I’m not sure why we do this to ourselves, but it seems that when we do something once, we need to try the experience again…right away. We’ve done it with the canoe,  the bikes, and now with our feet.  270 km in Spain should have been enough for a season, but for a number of reasons we are out again, this time walking the Peninsula portion of the Bruce Trail.

There are reasons, of course. J’s feet treated her so badly in Spain that she just needs to walk another 170 km to prove that the experience was a fluke. On top of that, I had been assigned, as part of the Pilgrimage course that took us to Spain, the task of developing a pilgrimage route in Ontario, specifically on the Bruce Trail.  I completed that task last week in theoretical terms, but, it just seems right to check and see if there was anything practical about the design.

Today we walked the first 17.6 Km (including the side trail to the parking lot) mostly in wet, misty, rainy conditions.

Typical trail surface...ankle breakers

This walk is way different from the Camino. First of all, there is no one else on it. The trail itself appears to have seen very little use this year. It is narrow forcing single file walking.  The surface of the trail is often very rough.  The Bruce Peninsula Trail Club rates the entire distance from Wiarton to Tobermory as strenuous. They’re right. The big stones in the trail are moss-covered and slippery. No one fell today, but we had some good saves.

Liia was along today. She drank  most of the water that we carried and I think her panting scared off most of the wildlife. She followed J valiantly, but I think that she thought we were just crazy. We almost had to abort the walk when she balked at climbing the spiral staircase at Spirit Rock  With J pushing and me pulling we got her started up. She stopped  part way up, but in the end we got to the top, all hot and bothered (and all smelling like the dog)

We were all glad to get back to our campground, wet and tired. It looks like we will try the next section tomorrow and hopefully over the next week and a bit make it all the way to the end.  We have set up a base in the trailer park in Lions Head so that we have a good bed to come back to every night.

Summer is Finally Here

It sounds like we are finally going to get some good hot summer weather.  We have experienced such variable stuff over the past months.  It rains every other day, it seems.  The bright side of that is that our lawn, which mostly grows on a sand hill, is still green. The rain is just not that conducive to the outside things that we like to do.

Our summer is pretty well planned and full. For the rest of this month, Hebrew will continue to burn up my days.  Yesterday the prof, using some sketchy math, was able to prove that at something over 20 hours a week spent on dalets and dageshes, I was likely not spending as much time as I would have if the course had not been compressed from 13 weeks to seven. He may be right, but with all of my other MDiv courses, I have been able to get away with not spending all of the time suggested by the profs and still did very well.  I am not finding Hebrew like that.  There don’t seem to be any short cuts.

At the end of July, Hebrew will stop. We will pick up again in the fall, presumably with an exegesis (interpretation) course although I am not confident that I would be able to pass the grammar portion by then.

August will be holidays.  First two weeks on the Bruce trail (I guess this is sort of part of the pilgrimage course) basing ourselves in Lions Head. We will have a week at home before we go north to a cottage with all of our kids.  Its been a year and a half since we were all together, so we are really looking forward to this. I will drive almost directly from there to Grand Rapids for the first of two sessions at the seminary there.

Our bikes are quieter this year. We are doing three or four 20km rides a week, and the touring bikes have not even had their wheels put back on after their service in March. Next year for that I guess.

Click the logo to sponsor my ride

We are riding in the MS Ride from Grand Bend to London and back in a couple of weeks. Sponsors are always welcome.  You can do that online by clicking on the ride logo.  Your support is appreciated.

J and I have been part of the MS Ride a couple of times before.  It is a great experience and last year raised just under $1,000,000 for MS research and support.

Is Spring Here Now?

Last week it looked like spring had arrived in western Ontario. Lawns were turning green and by Thursday the fields were dry enough that our neighbours were our working ground and planting seeds.  The weekend put a quick end to that with lots of rain on Saturday and a snow storm on Sunday.  This morning looks promising again.

It’s in spring and summer that I most keenly miss farming. Spring is especially difficult. I suppose I am remembering springs on the farm through rose-coloured glasses, but this time of year is a time filled with new hope and excitement.  The feeling of accomplishment in working up and seeding a field along with the anticipation of seeing those first sprouts struggling out of the ground cannot be replaced

There were stresses involved as well, stresses involving weather, time, finances and a myriad of other things, but, they were there in other seasons as well.  In spring those stresses are very much covered by the feeling of hope, of new life, of new beginnings.

Oh, I do have my yard and we have started cutting next fall’s firewood both of which give me a chance to be outside watching new shoots and fresh flowers, but it’s not quite the same as when your life is as wrapped up in all of it as it is when you are farming.  I miss it.


February came this week.  In fact it came roaring in with a storm that tuned out to be bigger for the places where it was not supposed to be and smaller for the Ontario cities where it was supposed to wreak havoc.  I left class early Tuesday night to beat the storm, and I did.  Wednesday we went nowhere because the plows had been pulled of the road.  We did get some neighbors in for supper.  By then the storm was over.

February marks the middle of the semester.  Lots of papers are due, lots of reading needs to be done.

I will preach once this month, next Sunday in Guelph.  J and I were members of the Guelph CRC from 1980 to 1982.  R was baptized there. Some of the folks that we went to church with then are still there. It may be cool to see them again.

Threefold consulting carries on.  Since I do most of my work for the company that once employed me, they supply me with a cell phone so that there was no break in service for their customers.  This week they “accidentally” disconnected the phone because the person in charge was pretty sure that I no longer worked for the company (its been 8 months).  A bit of a waste of time getting it up and running again.  Every week I seem to be able to fit in at least a day and a half of sheep and goat nutrition work which keeps my hand in and pays for a bunch of things including groceries.

This was about February though wasn’t it? I don’t really like it.  While winter usually doesn’t bother me, it is starting to get long.  I’d really like to get my bike out of the shed, maybe even cut the grass and work on some flower beds.

While everyone else seems to be going south, we continue to blow snow.

Blowing It

One of my major pastimes/jobs in the winter is blowing snow.  Our home is situated in such a way to Lake Huron that if it is snowing anywhere in Western Ontario it will be snowing here.  There are many days when my first ten miles to the seminary are very snowy and then, like coming out from under a blanket the snow will be gone.

Our driveway is relatively long with a significant hill in it.  If it is not kept clean it soon becomes impassable.  So, we blow the snow out of it, sometimes more than once a day.

Fortunately we have good equipment for the job.  Shortly after we moved here, we traded out big farm tractor, with no cab, for a smaller “estate” tractor with a cab.  No longer does blowing snow require bundling up in layers and layers of clothing.  No longer is an understanding of wind direction an important factor in operator comfort. Now we blow snow in running shoes and a jacket while listening to CBC on the radio.

I actually enjoy the job.  There is something rewarding about putting things the way they should be, about battling the elements and winning.

This evening I am filling my first preaching assignment since I was Licensed to Exhort by our classis back in September.  There is a little bit of trepidation about the whole thing.  I’ve preached before so that is nothing new.  In fact the sermon I will give is not a new one.  I think it’s just the difference in place and the unknowns that I feel I will face in terms of expectations.

I know that once I get started it will be fine.  Preaching is a bit like blowing snow.  I will present the words that I feel God has led me to say tonight, in effect throw them into the air, but like the wind takes my snow where it wants, even though I aim at a certain spot, the Spirit will take those words and drives them to the place that He needs them to go tonight.

If I can keep that in front of me, the trepidation will be gone.