There were dozens of fruit and nut trees on my grandparents' property. Most of these were brought from Vancouver, but several trees were from Kansas City, Missouri, where my grandfather came from. One was a huge walnut tree on which my young uncles liked testing their strength by chinning themselves. They all were involved with the Charles Atlas course by correspondence and each hoped to become a regular Adonis. There were different kinds of fruit trees, including cherry, peach, plum, apple, and quince. The quince made a lovely jelly. We never lacked for fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and eggs. The only things we had to buy were flour, sugar, oatmeal and salt. There was a lot of free food available through work and perseverance, by picking wild plants and berries and by fishing and hunting.
A wild plant that grew in the area and was considered to be very beneficial was Labrador tea, which we called Hudson's Bay tea. First Nations people have taken it for many years for medicinal purposes. I often went with my grandmother to gather the shrubs from a boggy area back in the forest. She tied the stalks and hung them to dry in the rafters and used the leaves as tea. We were given this as a tonic in the winter months. I don't think my parents or grandparents knew of the high content of vitamin C it contained, only that it was good for us. Not much was known about Vitamin C in the thirties.
This all sounds like an idyllic life, but I have left out the never ending but necessary hard work done by the adults. My parents had four children to feed and clothe and my grandparents had ten. My grandmother became a widow in her thirties, when her sons were in their early teens or younger. They had to take over most of the work their father had done. It was a hard life, but there were also many pleasant times with lots of laughter and music. I went back twenty-five years later; the houses were gone except for a few mossy boards, the orchard and trails were overgrown and the fruit trees had gone wild.
But I could almost hear children laughing and calling to each other on the warm summer breeze and my mother calling us in for supper. It seems we only appreciate the early years when we grow old and our thoughts return to the past. I am thankful for the many happy memories I have from those years at Gowland Harbour on Quadra Island.
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