So two significant Elders in my life have been keeping me busy in the last week or so… First, Ada is 90!!
Our neighbor and local legend, Ada Windecker turned 90 this month and there was a big community gathering to celebrate her major milestone. Ada is known as the Mayor, Sheriff, and Historian of Alida – the tiny town where we live. When we first bought our land, the owner of the local Country Store, now defunct but hoping for a re-opening someday, said to us, “Alida is population 16, 18 if you count dogs.” It is small!! There are now about a dozen folks who live right here within a couple blocks of “town” – basically the old Country Store building, a county maintenance building/defunct fire station, and the township dump. And Ada’s house amidst them all. She has raised her own five kids as well as many of the local kids as a Sunday School teacher (and superintendent too!). The gathering had dozens and dozens of folks come out to wish her well.
Family and friends prepared and served sandwiches, salads of potato/pasta/jello, chips, salsa, coffee, punch and cake. There were four sheet cakes in addition to her showy cake by which she sat greeting visitors. You had your choice of white, chocolate, marble, or the ever popular red velvet. Kids of all ages joined in the fun and just before the program started, about three dozen folks on 4x4s arrived to join the festivities.
The program consisted of much music, which, if you’ve ever met Ada, you’d know was a crucial element. Mark, an old Sunday School pupil of hers, sang Footprints and then Don, a neighbor who also recently turned ninety, serenaded her as well. Then two of Ada’s grandaughters, Kayla and Kylie (as I recall – both of Perry’s line – apparently the one which breeds good singers) came up and did a smash up of Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World. They were outstanding!! Several folks stood up to share memories and stories of Ada. My favorite was Perry’s story about the tooty boat ride on Long Lake. What a joy to hear these memories. Ada herself spoke for a bit and even sang a little piece of a song for us. She was overwhelmed by the day. But the best was held for last. Her grandson came up to share a song… and Ada’s secret superpower. Apparently she’d been asking for him to sing and no excuse would do. When he’d nearly run out of excuses, she turned on her sweet little tears and proclaimed that she simply must have him sing the Lord’s Prayer and boy were we all glad she used her super power to convince him to sing. No one can resist Ada’s tears. 🙂
The other Elder keeping us busy is Anne Dunn, Anishinaabe storyteller and dear friend. We have been on the project for over a year now as I believe the original dreaming meeting was at Esther’s house in 2017 with Esther, Anne, & Annie Humphrey, Patty Kakac, Dan and me scheming on what we could do to make Anne’s dream home a reality. Now, with Anne having a lot, we have a foundation on which to build. However, before we build, we must demolish! (Photos are from April 2018.)
The lot she has is full of debris. Back on June 3rd, Dan and I spent the day with Anne breaking free one of the old trailers that was stuck in the dirt from being in place for so long. We were able to remove the skirting and wood framing holding it in place so it could be pulled from its moorings and the attached porch could be broken down. We had been preceded by Barry Babcock who had chainsawed much of an old tree to clear its danger and happily we carted off a truckload of wood for our troubles. We were followed by some strong ones who broke up the deck and got it in the junk piles.
Much of the scrap metal had been carted off – metal has some value for the entrepreneurial soul. But much of the wood, wallboard, insulation and garbage (the stuff Anne hadn’t yet dug from the dirt) remained. Some of the demolition work had been piled neatly but there was a large pile with wallboard that was breaking down. Anne’s curious nature led her to investigate and she found that drywall can be placed on the ground and, as it breaks down, it can nourish the soil! She began moving pieces of it to an area on the east side of the lot where she wants to grow later.
After some scheduling, Noreen Hautala, Anne, Dan and I were able to find a day that worked for us to tackle the job en masse. We hoped for more volunteers but we knew the four of us could make nice headway. We began by removing more drywall from the junk pile and making an even bigger gypsum garden for Anne. We filled several large construction trash bags with loose debris and re-stacked boards and other large pieces making the material easier for pick-up. Robert Saxton had said he could arrange to remove some of it with his trailer so we wanted it to look more approachable! We did an excellent job. Robert came by a couple days later and carted off much of the mess.
Anne noted an old fence that had fallen over along the road side of the lot and we decided that would be the base for a Hugelbed. Hugelkultur uses wood, compost, soil, and vegetation to create a mound into which you can grow. The wood retains water meaning there is little need for watering once the Hugelbed is established. For Anne, this should also create some barriers to foot traffic at the road side of the property.
We attacked the pile of tree remains that had accumulated and created a habitat for birds and such by piling it at the back end of the property. Dan also cut back some box elder to open up the fruit trees in the orchard area. Noreen had a mission of getting the fallen roof structure out and WOW did she ever succeed! She was REALLY sore after all that sledge hammer swinging!
For a bunch of old folks working for a day and a half, we were happy with a job well done. A video of the progress we made is posted at Harn Theory. And good thing we did all we did as the new trailer arrived less than a week later!! It needs much work but it’s here and we can begin the cleaning, repairing, and decorating so Anne has a lovely home before winter. Lots more to do and we are grateful for anyone who has a heart to help. You can follow the progress at Operation Crone Corner.