Sitting close to the water, feeling warm sunshine on my face, tracking the clouds, helps me feel renewed by nature. Farmers are a lucky lot as they are in nature every day, it just depends on their mindset whether they are being renewed or riled.
Summer 2020 will breeze by quickly. The key question for many farm families is, “How are we going to make it fun?” The Great Pause has cancelled overnight summer camps, limited family gatherings, delayed weddings, and the list goes on. The challenge is to come out of our funk, and get creative.
Prairie people can order Prairies North magazine, a great treasure of local adventures and off-the-beaten-path ideas of how to have fun in Saskatchewan. The summer issue talks about “Art in the Forest.”
I used to go to Jan Layh’s Art Camp in Shellmouth and hang out for a week with my good friend Jan and her artistic friends. The pivot on this idea would be stocking up your art supplies and creating an art camp with your family, grandchildren included. Ask your woodworking buddies to build you some easels, and think about the places you can visit to do art “en plein air.” I plan on painting watercolour cards to mail.
Post? Yes, another forgotten activity is re-establishing pen-pal relationships. I saw a social media post where a mom was flabbergasted that her teenager did not know how to address an envelope, nor where to place the stamp. Amazon is getting lots of traction at Canada Post; let’s bless folks with old-fashioned mail. While you are packaging, attack your pile of books and pay them forward. One friend is excited to get photography books that I inherited at our lake house from the former owner.
Execute a picnic with gourmet food, a checkered tablecloth, and local fare. Some farmers’ markets are open with online ordering, or some walk-up traffic with guidelines. Can you collect a great assortment of goodies locally to have fun doing themed picnics?
A speaker friend in Calgary has themed suppers with her teens and her hubby dressing up for dinner while posting the results on Facebook. I think there are many young children who would be happy to dress up like the Calgary Stampede crew, and ride out to a pasture spot to have some fun roasting wieners and s’mores, and making new memories.
Angela Jones, a young farm mom, is going to make use of her son’s new fishing rod that did not see much action last year. Fishing can be done easily with social distancing, so maybe it’s time to make flies, dust off the old equipment and refresh the tackle box. Maybe Grandpa could do a filleting lesson on FaceTime or Zoom if he lives too far away.
Grandparents are keen to find ways to connect with family. Many of them have lived through hard times before, so perhaps they never did take socializing for granted as the younger generations may have. Southland Church in Steinbach had a great video story of a grandfather who shared Bible stories with his grandson every day on Zoom. This is a powerful mentoring relationship enhancing spiritual growth, done in a creative way.
Get your neighbours to have boat parades, canoe regattas, or truck shows this summer. It will take some thought and planning, but the memories made will be very rich. Recall all the birthday drive-by parades this season has sprouted, and then translate that to how that might work in a campground or lake setting.
Dig out the local history books and do your own heritage tour. Maybe it’s time to visit the rock pile, paint the rocks, and create a scavenger hunt in your own farmyard.
The Manitoba Geocaching Association is Manitoba’s gateway to the worldwide adventure sport of geocaching. If you are new to geocaching, you will want to visit its website for information on how to get started, local geocaching events and the benefits of free membership in the provincial organization.
Or is it the right day to clean out the shed and find historical farm tool treasures or cream cans that can be given new life along with the story of the original owner? Repurposing farm “junk” can give joy to the person who appreciates the tales that accompany the treasure. I’ve seen metal bed frames welded into garden benches, window frames strung with jute and clothespins to create shabby chic photo displays.
For those people who have “eBay” whiz-kids in the family, you might want to monetize the things that don’t give you joy anymore (organizing consultant Marie Kondo style).
Our son has found a machine that transfers VHS tapes to a computer file, and we’ve enjoyed revisiting old family videos that give delight to the new parents.
Grandma’s garden this year has a sugar snap pea fence, lots of zucchinis, cucumbers, and hopefully some gladioli. In our area, the number of chicks ordered was over 7,000, double the usual amount as folks are keen to have food security and grow their own food. Maybe this is the summer you dust off the canner, and teach the next generation how to make jam, can peaches, stew rhubarb, and freeze the veggies. If you want more support in this adventure seek out Getty Stewart, home economist, on Facebook. Getty has written books on preserving Manitoba fruit and she loves cooking.
While you’re feeling good about paying things forward, how about creating a family-favourite cookbook this summer. You can enlist the next generation to make it digital and get it printed at Staples. It could also be like a journal to capture the thoughts and feelings of your family during the Great Pause of 2020.
Way back in 1983 I purchased Let’s Make a Memory: Great ideas for building family traditions and togetherness, by Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson. You can get a used copy for 99 cents on Amazon.
Increase the fun factor on your farm this summer, and let me know what memories you’ve created!