And then the Opinicon dinner bell began to ring…
April 25, 2015
My old classmate Don Goodfellow called it crowdfunding. He was impressed that this many people would come out on a Saturday morning in April to heave several years’ accumulation of oak leaves onto large tarps, then drag the sodden loads a hundred yards to the edge of the lawn, dump them, and climb the hill for another go. But lots of us were there with rakes and gloves, happy to help out, equally grateful that the black flies had not yet arrived, and that someone had had the foresight to lay in no fewer than six portable toilets for the crew. For 200 people, that’s luxury.
Further foresight had banned the leaf blowing crew to the far end of the property, so we could hear ourselves think.
So we went to work with a will, as long as wind and muscles lasted. Then we found things to lean against and chatted. One woman and her son come from a farm just outside Elgin. The family business is a grain elevator. Another couple own a lovely property on Newboro Lake. We had corresponded extensively over the years as part of the Annual Ice Out Contest. Specifically, I had named the winner two years ago only to have Pete comment that he had pulled a log off the “non-existent” ice with his Rhino that morning. From that point on I announced no winner until I had first toured the lake looking for ice.
Turned out they were head-hunting, and before long they had found an energetic member of the raking crew, a teenager willing to add more hours of wood splitting and raking to his busy week.
My friends Tony and Anne Izatt arrived from their new home in Newboro. Tony grumbled when I dragged him away from a conversation to help with a tarp, but when he finally got to work he pulled with a will, and seems to have great wind and stamina. But he’s been working on their house every weekend since fall, so he’s in much better shape than I. Don Goodfellow is ancient — two full years older than I, but he told me he’s already been doing a lot of raking this year, so he as well seemed in great shape. But at least I had had the sense to suggest the tarps to Fiona.
You see, there’s no way I would work this hard at home. I have too many toys for lawn care, and there are all sorts of tricks one can use to get out of heavy lifting if there are four diesel engines at one’s beck and call.
As it approached 11:30, Don kept talking about food. We raked bits of remaining leaf patches, but the bulk of the day’s problem had turned into a pile of compost over behind the dock shed. Then to everyone’s delight the dinner bell began to ring. If anybody wants to go all poetic about the bell pealing out a song of hope or continuity, or any such, please pen away and add it to the comment section below. Suffice it that I was very glad to hear that bell, and it wasn’t because I like hot dogs. The Opinicon is part of what I call Home.
Up the hill we trooped to avoid the slow stampede of rakers descending from around the cottages on the opposing hill. How many buildings are there up there?
A country rock band played quietly on the veranda as we moved into the short lineup for hotdogs, cake and cookies (effortless food delivery noted). The green relish looked unusual, so I tried it. Good. Over at the t-shirt booth people signed in and the woman before me commented beside her signature: “I loved the home-made relish.”
Hands full of food, I led Don toward The Liar’s Bench, but diverted onto the veranda of a nearby cottage, well-supplied with old chairs, painted red. The first one I tried had a cane seat. I sat down gingerly. Nope, too much crackling. I switched it for one with a piece of plywood screwed on ages ago. It took the weight and felt surprisingly comfortable.
People passed. Lots of chats with well liked, if seldom-remembered acquaintances. People seemed in an excellent mood at this event. Maybe in its own way perspiration is as good a social lubricant as alcohol.