Madeline McCarthy is about to turn 101 years old, and today the country road along Pye Acres was officially named in her honour. McCarthy Road is a fitting tribute to a century of love and respect for the countryside she calls home. Madeline is our lovely neighbour, and she is just as sharp today as she was when she lived her youthful adventures on hundreds of acres of land that borders her namesake. The title to our 138 acres was signed to the founding owner in the late 1800’s, and in the early 1940s, Madeline proudly took over its deed. Cathy and I are now the third owners, inspired by the values that Madeline established here before us — pride in family, and pride in land where family is raised. Perhaps that’s why there were tears in Madeline’s eyes on the day that we told her a baby Charlie was on the way, and so too were construction plans for our family home on her previous property. It’s flattering that Madeline enjoyed experiencing the Pye family house-raising as much as we did last year. We are also proud that Charlie and Jack will remember spending time with the lady who put her heart and soul into our property and her name on the road that leads right to it.
The Pye Acres Blog is about the pursuit of dreams. On Friday night, another one came true. Dwight Yoakam autographed my jacket.
My quest for Dwight’s autograph spans 22 years – ever since Grade 10 when I commissioned a high school buddy to produce a custom-made Dwight jacket. Painted on an old Levi’s jacket (later tailored to fit my adult life), this tribute piece was ready in time for the 1991 “If There Was A Way” tour when Dwight came to Toronto’s Massey Hall. A 1,000 miles of travelling to 12 more Dwight concerts later, my jacket was escorted onto the music icon’s tour bus and he graciously signed it.
The jacket wouldn’t be complete without the ink from the major musical talent that currently surrounds Dwight, including Mitch Marine, Brian Whelan, Jonathan J. Clark and Eugene Edwards. All of these guys are class acts, and I’m proud to have their autograph on the Dwight jacket as well.
What is it about an autograph? Perhaps the determination for an autograph is the icebreaker that dedicated fans need to simply say thank you. Fans buy albums, go to concerts, join fan clubs and order merchandise but do the artists know how much we admire their work? Do they know how their dedication to their craft and skilful attention to detail makes a difference in our daily lives? Will they ever know that a certain lyric or melody helped their fans sort through the highs and lows of life? Do the artists know how much they motivate thousands in a concert crowd to go home and give the 100 percent that we saw them deliver on stage?
Dwight’s music ignites my soul, and his tenacity inspires my life. He is a major role model, and my careful attention to his passion and perseverance has served as a catalyst for dreams beyond an autographed Dwight jacket.
P.S. For more on my tribute to Dwight and his 3 Pears album, see: http://pyeacres.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/3-pears-for-a-new-kitchen/
A Canada Day party calls for fireworks but, at Pye Acres, we prefer 12 gauges. PULL!!! I think we just started a new summer long weekend tradition. The 1st annual Pye Acres Skeet Shoot & BBQ was… wait for it.. a blast. Over 20 new and experienced gunners cracked clays on our back-forty skeet range. When the shooting irons were safely stored away, we cracked beers. What could be more Canadian than shotgun sports, a potluck BBQ and a campfire? Enter in a mix of backyard kite flying, pellet gun plinking, marshmallow melting and bush-buggy riding for the kids, and you’ve got the kind of family fun event that Pye Acres was designed to host. The skeet shooting event is nothing new for our property. Since we bought the land in 2006, dozens of shooters, young and old, have pounded their shoulder with some basic wing shooting practice. We always welcome new shooters. The only thing more exciting than blasting your first flying target is watching a first time skeet shooter dust theirs. It’s an experience that is perhaps underrated, not just in terms of outdoor hobby interests but in terms of building self confidence. It’s particularly rewarding when a new shooter trades in their previous firearms fears for firearms respect and a fascination for this timeless target shooting tradition. Meanwhile, back at the house, everyone is welcome to pull up a lawn chair around our new campfire. Appropriately, it was officially lit during the most memorable Canada Day long weekend ever. Thanks for coming out! Let’s do it all over again next Canada Day.
When you take a historic cow paddock and churn it into a vegetable garden, 100 years of manure-rich soil is ready to grow — FAST! A super-soaked spring is also credit to our overnight gardening success. Green thumbs-up to Cathy! She’s the one braving evening clouds of wasp-sized mosquitoes to tend the garden. Because the garden is not going to weed itself, I’m making a hardware store stop on the way home to buy a claw hoe. Confession that I’m excited about acquiring a new garden tool quietly indicates my enjoyment of this new outdoor hobby. Yes, gardening is fun but I’m still preoccupied thinking about growing meat vs. veggies. It’s going to be a bumper crop for crab apples this year, and the deer love them. Venison chops are going to be tasty next to our garden fresh carrots and spuds.
A country home just isn’t complete without the classic country charms of a clothesline, a hammock, and a dinner-bell. All three of these finishing touches were fondly fastened to our home this past weekend. As Cathy put it, “it really feels like ‘home’ now that there’s a clothesline strung from the back of it.” I agree. Since the time of settlement, a clothesline has never gone out of style. The calming sight of sheets and shirts swaying in the breeze is rurally intrinsic and classically homegrown. A clothesline connects us to generations past who enjoyed the same peaceful backyard moments over the same household chore. I’ll gladly help with the laundry as Cathy makes lunch. And, if I don’t come right away at the sound of the English Setter bell, go check the hammock. I may have fallen asleep watching my tighty-whities dry.
“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River