Hodge: Fall’s arrival brings thoughts of Mom

Kelowna columnist Charlie Hodge talks about memories brought on by the end of summer

By Charlie Hodge

Wow, seems Autumn has not hesitated in rushing in. Last time I checked I was grumbling about the heat and smoke.

While I’m not thrilled bidding farewell to a compromised summer I admit there is something remarkably comforting and cozy about tucking in for winter. Ironically the flower and vegetable gardens burst into their finest colour and productivity in September and early October just before harvest and clean up.

Like many garden groupies I was hoping for an extended warm summer however the crisp cold air suggests winter intends to hit early and hard. In addition to the quick arrival of cold weather my crops have also been rudely assaulted by an invasion of squirrels this year that seem to have doubled in numbers. Seems the voracious little critters enjoy melons, green peppers, cucumbers and anything else they can chew on.

In an effort to extend our growing season at both ends of the season Tez and I purchased a cheap put-up-yourself heavy plastic greenhouse in the spring which then remained in its box for the entire summer. Thankfully last week local garden guru and lifetime friend Don Burnett stopped by long enough to take charge and help erect the structure. Not only did I get to sit back and watch Tez and Don wrestle with the task, but Donna Burnett then fed us all some wonderful homemade borscht for lunch. Beat that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Of course spending all that time with Don only meant mentioning many marvellous memories we shared of my amazing mother Doris Hodge, who worked nearly 20 years at Burnett and Sons Greenhouse. Mom loved Donny and his younger brother Alan and spent nearly as much time with them over the years as she did at home.

Mom truly had a green thumb and was a vital and cherished member of the Burnett’s Greenhouse crew in the ’60s and ’70s. Her love for gardening began as a child on the farm in Penticton and remained with her until her final days. Her knowledge and wisdom regarding plants was vast and diverse, however all of that paled compared to the wisdom, kindness, and patience she had for others and for life itself.

I can honestly say that no one influenced me or amazed me more in my world than Doris Hodge and that no lad could have been luckier than I to have such a marvelous human being as their mother. To say I miss her today is an understatement.

Mom died some 20 years ago on Sept. 24, one week short of her 75th birthday. My world did a skid that day and I am not sure if it ever really got fully back on track. I take solace however in the time I had with her and the many lessons learned and observed.

So it is that I have spent a fair amount of time the past week thinking about dearest Mom, and appreciating the way my world unfolded because of her.

Not only did she set a great example of how to live but also on how to die. As she slowly faded away due to emphysema and other complications Mom remained as cheery and positive as possible, sucking as much lemonade out of life’s lemons as she could. She always made positive choices in tough times.

Like a garden in the fall, Mom simply prepared as best she could for the pending winter knowing that to everything there is a season.

We should all be so lucky as to have such a mentor for a friend and mother.

•••

Speaking of tucking in for fun and warmth this winter, here’s a reminder of a very good cause later this month that could use your assistance: Haiti in My Heart

On Friday, Oct. 20 residents are invited to the Laurel Packinghouse to enjoy schnitzel and bratwurst and chase it with some delicious Bavarian beer.

Organized by Louise Elliott and Geoffrey White (and sponsored by Total Restoration), Haiti In My Heart is an authentic German Oktoberfest event and worthy fundraiser.

Catered by Kelowna European Caterers, with beer will be provided by Sleeman’s Brewery, the event promises to be a fabulous evening of music, food, and friendship.

A live auction will also take place with all proceeds going to Haiti in My Heart.

A Canadian registered charity, Haiti in My Heart was founded in 2014. The mission of Haiti in My Heart (HIMH) is, “to relieve poverty and provide opportunities for education in Haiti,” according to Elliott.

HIMH built and supports a school in Montrouis, a fishing village on the east coast of Haiti. HIMH also supports numerous families and the broader community of Montrouis on a regular basis. For more information and ticket locations: www.haitiinmyheart/ca-oktoberfest-2017 or call 250-317-2679.

Doors open at 5 p.m.