Saturday, June 02, 2007

Alberta Reports - Number Six

August 3, 1998

The sun goes up and the sun goes down, and days and weeks and months and years and centuries are rolling by…. hold on a minute….

We celebrated the end of July by attending a show by the Arrogant Worms. The Worms are a sort of folky/comedy act – and they are so funny that by the end of the show my cheeks cramped up from laughing. It was a pain that started in the middle my cheek and spread forward toward to my mouth. Of course, the sudden realization that this pain is caused by laughing only makes it worse because you start laughing even more. (My other cheeks cramped up from the chair I was in, but that’s another story.) They played many of their classic songs, like “Last Saskatchewan Pirate,” “Carrot Juice is Murder,” “Canada’s Really Big,” and “Big Fat Road Manager.” They did some new songs, including a love song about Celine Dion, with some very biting lyrics: Every time I see her, I really want to feed her.

Driving home after the show, the sky was a show unto itself. Overhead, the northern lights had returned, a blazing curtain across the sky. But the sky was partly cloudy, and the lights were shining through the holes, casting spectacular lights and carving amazing shadows. Ahead along the northern horizon, a line of thunderheads were flashing and crashing. As I arrived home to this special effect show in the sky, the coyotes were howling and a shooting star blazed overhead.
The We(s)t Coast is still heaven on earth, but on some nights it’s pretty amazing out here, too.

Very early the next morning, my auxiliary power supply for my computer woke me up with its beeping: the electricity was surging and flickering. And it was easy to see why; we were in the midst of a spectacular thunderstorm. As I looked over at the trailer, I could see bright, blinding bolts of lightning behind it. And I mean blinding – after each white flash I couldn’t see as it took a moment for my eyes to readjust. (I thought the storm was just behind the trailer to the east, but in the trailer Ben was watching it rage behind my house, so we were surrounded.) A couple of times, the sky lit up bright blue and you know when the sky turns blue when lightning is around, that’s bad.

The crops are all early, not just the crops here on the farm, but all crops all through the Prairies and ripening early and fast. Bernie and Paula’s neighbours are already cutting alfalfa and the canola is just about ready. This is about three weeks ahead of normal. Bernie was noting a wheat field that was already cut, and he said, “That guy is done. Summer’s over for him. He’s finished. Vacation time.”
For us, the problem is that we just don’t enough hands to pick everything that’s ripe to take to market. The other down side is that if we could pick everything, we’d have to drop the price in order to sell it all. The typical farmer’s dilemma: do I pay some pickers to pick my crop and sell it for less than it’s value, or just let perfectly good food go to waste on the vine because it’s not economically viable to harvest it? The good news is that they’re way ahead of last year’s sales totals at the markets, but I’m worried that if everything is coming in early, there might not be much left by the end of August. We’re going into the third of three sugar pea plantings and the second of two bean plantings this week. These will only last until the middle of August – then what?

The markets continue. This week, the weather did not cooperate. It rained heavily Thursday morning, and cut down on our picking time before Thursday market. Fortunately, the Thursday market is the smallest one of the three, and this wasn’t a big disaster. But Saturday dawned cloudy, and it rained on and off during the market (including a couple of really heavy downpours), and it was a slow day. We came back with a lot of stuff.

Our act at the market grows, however. We have four shticks:
1) The Magic Beans Rap, wherein Bernie describes how the purple beans are magic because they change colour when you cook them (and if you know someone named Jack, he’s got a handful put aside for him to trade for a cow….);
2) Trick Peas, wherein the sugar peas perform tricks (lie down, stay, roll over and disappear);
3) Magnetic Potatoes, which starts as a riff about magnetic potatoes and ends with Bernie and I juggling four of them;
4) Riverdance, wherein Bernie and I actually Riverdance.
We’re thinking of adding a musical number to our repertoire, maybe “Give Peas a Chance....”

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