E-mail rekindled old memories

Some days, when you least expect it, a voice out of the past either calls or e-mails me.
It happened last week when Wendi Stewart e-mailed me with a request to review her columns. She now lives in Chesley, just outside of Owen Sound, and is a columnist with the Owen Sound Sun Times.
Her parents, John and Shirley Stewart, and my parents were friends, and I can remember spending a couple of days of Christmas holiday sleepovers at the Stewart farm on the River Road with my brother, Don.
We probably didn’t spend a lot of time with either Wendi or her sister, Sherry. But with her brother, Laurie, along with my brother, we would climb up into the haystacks and roam about the farm in winter.
The Stewart farm always had one cow that was nicknamed “Chasy” and we would venture out into the pen, catch the animal’s attention, and then scramble over or through the fence when we were chased.
It was a game. Laurie always was the bravest and had the timing perfect while “Chasy” seemed to always know when to apply the brakes to avoid running into the fence.
The farm had a great toboggan hill, and the Cumming and Stewart families often would spend Sunday afternoons in January or February sliding on it. We all sought to find out who could run out the furthest.
The last thing you wanted to hit was a frozen “cow pie” because that could jar your teeth and stop the toboggan dead in its path.
The tobogganing always was followed by hot chocolate back in the farmhouse. I think the parents, who spent a lot of time at the top of the hill, knew well in advance that the fresh air, not to mention the walk back up the hill through deep snow, would tire all of us kids out.
And in summer, when haying season came, my father would volunteer a couple of weekends to John for putting up hay. The bales were all stooked in the fields and we would jump from the hay wagon that was being pulled by Johnnie’s trusty John Deere onto the bales.
Each square bale then was loaded on the wagon and when it was full, we would ride atop the stacked wagon to the pole barn that had been built to store hay safely out of the elements.
Even in the hottest days, to us children the heat didn’t seem to faze us. We may have come home scratched and prickled, but we had fun.
A group of men would take the hay from the wagon to the low-tech elevator, which would move the bales higher into the barn. Another group of men then would lug the hay forward into the barn and begin the stacking process.
The pile of hay was our jungle gym to climb on. The rows criss-crossed each other, binding all the hay together in a tight pattern. And by the end of August, the barn was packed to the rafters.
Memories from the Stewart farm came back to me as I spoke with Wendi. Shirley and John were referred to as aunt and uncle.
Wendi and I caught up on each other’s brothers and sisters but best of all, memories were rekindled.

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