Monday, December 15, 2014

Rural Ontario

Composed for “Christmas Charisma” Luncheon
at RBG's Garden Cafe ~ December 15, 2014

Based in New York City, Nathan Courier and James Ives produced prints from paintings by fine artists ~ these black and white lithographs were then hand painted for production.  This fact surprised me!
My “Christmas Memory” could be of focal interest to Courier and Ives.  Envision my described scenes on their Christmas cards.

Born on a farm in Vanessa, Ontario,
winter arrived November...never left until March!
Father's Christmas gift to Mom was a big surprise.
She'd not been home since her family's big summer picnic ~
nor had her parents seen We Young Grand Daughters.

Country roads...then...saw no snowplows.
Snow drifts piled high beside fences and roads.
From the shed, my Dad pulled out the red sleigh
in preparation for the approximate-10-mile trip.
Gifts for her homestead family near the village of Norwich
were preserves of jams, fruit and pickles plus home-baked cookies.
My Dad provided a couple useful tools
he'd carved from the trunk of a tall fallen maple.
My sister and I had colourful nosegays ~
dried flowers arranged from Mom's summer garden.

Dad led out “Whistler” from the stabled barn...
a big black Percheron with white socks and a forehead star.
Leather straps of brass sleigh bells were attached to his harness.
Then he was hitched to the sleigh, on this frosty morn.

Dressed in clothing layers...knit scarves, hats and mittens...
our laps well covered with hand-crafted “crazy quilts”.
With a flip of the rein on the horse's rump
and Dad's “cluck-cluck” message to Whistler
who happily snorted, pulling the sleigh
as it crunched through the snow in the frosty chill air.

He quick-trotted at a pace past snow-laden pines...
and red brick farm homes, swirling smoke from their chimneys.
The sleigh bells rang merrily as we sang Christmas carols.
YEP! There's the blue-water-pond near the snowy wood thicket ~
it's now frozen solid with shovelled snow at its rim.
Parents and children happily glided on their old tube skates ~
enjoying Christmas a family should.

Whistler delivered us to the yellow brick home.
A decorated snowy-branched evergreen spruce, welcomed us;
Nero, the family dog, as he ran toward us, excitedly barked
and Grandma rang the “tower bell” to announce our arrival.
We were chilled, yet joyous to sit by the fire...
while Whistler shed his harness, drank from the water pail
and munched on his oats.

Explain:  horse's stockings...Whistler...tower bell

This truly is a Jingle Bell story ~
in a One-Horse Open Sleigh!
(when I was 3 or 4, and my sister a year older)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 28,  2014

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