tweed, ontario

Down one country road and along another from Newburgh, we arrive in Tweed in time for supper with our friends Lynn and Billy. Bridget and I have had an easy day of it, but not so Lynn and Billy, who have spent the day harvesting garlic – digging it up, sorting it and hanging it up, ready for sale. The two of them left The Big Smoke (as some would call Toronto) years ago, purchased a large tract of land out here in the country and began building a new life for themselves, building a home from scratch and creating a home for all sorts of critters, from cats and dogs (which they breed) to goats and horses. It’s a simple life, but simple doesn’t mean easy. There is always work to do around the farm, and days are often filled with projects requiring hard labor. Building a new barn, carving out trails through the woods, repairing fence posts, taking care of the horses, unloading hay, harvesting garlic – it’s all in a day’s work.

I’ve got a recessive farming gene in me that over the course of a couple of days gets a bit of a workout, bundling up bunches of garlic and helping unload the hay wagon, and what it does is give me a huge appreciation for what life on the farm entails. But never fear, I don’t overdo on the work ethic – there’s plenty of time for a walk in the woods down to the pond at the back of their property, lounging in the pool and enjoying a brewski on the back porch before dinner. One night we even get out the instruments – Lynn on guitar and vocals, Billy on harmonica, Bridget on fiddle and me pounding out the percussive beat. Another night, at the kitchen table, I get out “Astral Weeks Live: A Fan’s Notes” and read selected passages to my audience of three. Work and play: it’s all good.

Lynn is a lifelong horsewoman, and in recent years Billy has matched her enthusiasm. Between them they have five beautiful Morgan horses, and it’s a joy to experience, however vicariously, the relationships among the horses and between the horses and their caretakers. Billy and Lynn use a method developed by Pat Parelli to “train” the horses without the use of violence – no bits, no crops to force action. Watching the two of them interact with the horses, this city slicker thinks this must be horse whispering. Whatever it’s called, it’s a happy space to be in, and I think to myself that what works so well with horses could work for people too if we could just drop the control thing.

And if all that peace, love and understanding weren’t enough, look what’s coming to town. It looks like we’re in the right place at the wrong time.

A self-professed live music junkie, Shannon is the author of
Astral Weeks Live: A Fan’s Notes, a book about her year on the road attending singer Van Morrison’s epic live performances of his widely acclaimed album Astral Weeks. To find out more about the book or to order a copy signed by the author, click here.

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