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.