Tall stories keep on stretching
My apologies for the delay in posting some new (old) material... given all of the fantastic weather, I somehow misplaced the entire month of August. No doubt it's buried in my garden, or floating in a swimming pool somewhere. I love tall tales and hyperbole, and by happy accident, unearthed this piece while digging for something completely different. Let Lee pull on your leg a bit with this column that was originally published in the King's County Record on November 13th, 1985.
The truth, according to someone who should have pretty reliable information on the subject, is seldom pure and never simple. If my neighbors over the years are any indication I would be willing to go out on a limb and venture the opinion that mankind generally has a deep-seated desire to keep anybody from finding out what it is exactly that is going on around the old farmstead.
I suppose that it all started out with those two orchard thieves way back when, with their tall tail about the snake telling them what to do. I don't know about you but it always seemed to me that Chief was a little bit gullible on that one. I suppose that he hadn't had much experience with kids at that point - goodness knows, he's had enough since then - but if my youngsters came home with a story about how they really weren't that responsible because it was the horse that told them it would be O.K. to borrow the car, I don't think I would be inclined to go on a vendetta against the whole horsey tribe from henceforth and notwithstanding
But once mankind got well-launched into that sort of thing there didn't seem to be any turning back, and the ability to give a bit of spin to even the most inconsequential items of information is pretty well ingrained by now. Is it any wonder that lawyers have such uphill work in the world? The general population looks upon the legal profession with something less than enthusiasm and down where I come from the term "Philadelphia lawyer" without any other comment immediately conjured up a vision of someone who could talk his way out of (or into) anything he happened to have a mind for.
When you look at the way the general population operates over pretty much the same terrain, though, the lawyers just seem to be running hard to stay in the same place. Anybody who thinks that he is going to dedicate his life to finding out what really happened on the night of Oct. 3 last, and then see justice done on top of that, really deserves at least a good round of applause and a large medal with the words "Tries Hard" in the centre.
I don't want to be accused of saying that everybody lies all the time. That wouldn't be fair. It's more a case of a certain elasticity being introduced into the outlines of what is being described. Our elderly neighbor, Horace, who owns the third farm down, beyond the turn, says of another neighbor whom I think I won't mention directly that he "treats the truth like an accordion." That's what I mean.
Why is it that we can't just say that such-and-such is the case and let it go at that? Isn't the ordinary world wonderful enough without all that hoopla being ladled on with such exuberance? When we came down here to live some years ago I incautiously remarked to someone that the winters didn't seem as snowy as I thought they would be this close to the North Pole. Well, sir and madam, I was treated to a good deal of Information Retrieval of the way things were twenty or fifty years ago in grandfather's day or whatever happened to be the most convenient time-frame for the person I was talking to.
I heard about winter, let me tell you. Winter the way that it was. Did it snow? I guess it snowed. It snowed so hard it took a gang of men two weeks to shovel a track out to the highway so they could get the cream out. Why, they had to dig down ten feet to find the tops of the telephone poles so they knew where the road was.
Those were the days when winter was winter, not this miserable weather that we have since the Russians started putting all those satellites into space. Why, back then, whenever it was, it not only snowed, it also got cold and stayed cold. One elderly pillar of integrity, who apparently had no qualms about meeting his Maker before too many moons had passed, told me that his father, another rock of virtue and probity, had told him that he remembered when it was so cold that after he came back from milking he went to blow out the lantern and he couldn't do it because the flame was frozen solid. The thing you had to watch out for, I was told, was where you put your frozen flames because, come spring, they would thaw out and were liable to set fire to things.
Well maybe it was that cold, 'way back when.' It reminds me though: did I ever tell you about the time we were shingling the barn roof and the fog rolled in but we wanted to get the job done so we kept on working and when the weather cleared we found we'd shingled six feet of Fundy fog? It's as true as I'm standing here.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.