We recently returned from Grande Prairie where we visited family and the prairie landscape. I forget how much I miss the prairies until I am there again. The wind always blows, and you can see for absolutely miles. There is nowhere else like it. I took my family out to Kleskun Hills which is near the farm where I lived in the mid seventies. The Kleskun park now has a bit of a heritage site with many buildings and bits from history. I was thrilled to visit the Hubert Manning house, built in 1914. Mr. Manning was our neighbor for a time and I have fond memories of him. Inside the house was a book with stories about this eccentric man. They were much the same as my own memories. I’ll treat you to a story now.
One time (this is how all good stories start), one time we were at Mr. Manning’s house for a visit. I think we might have brought him some water as he had no running water. He invited us to tea and told us stories from his home in Ontario. My brother and I were so fascinated buy his tales of collecting and making maple syrup that Mr. Manning wanted us to taste this golden liquid for ourselves. He had several jars left in his cellar, he said and if we would only wait a moment or two, he would dig them up, literally! His cellar had collapsed a while ago and he had to go into the hole where his stairs once were to dig up whatever food he needed. After a lot of grunting and dirt flying out the hole, Mr. Manning reappeared like a large gopher with a dirt covered jar in hand. The lid was rusty beyond recognition, but inside the glass we could see the golden liquid! My mouth watered in anticipation! After wrestling open the lid, Mr. Manning flew over to his bread box and pulled out a crust of bread. He generously poured the liquid over the crust and divided it in two. As I bit into my piece, an overwhelming taste of mold invaded my mouth. The bread was very moldy. With tears in my eyes I continued to eat the crust and thanked Mr. Manning for the taste. He looked at us, beaming that he could share a delight from his home. He didn’t notice my tears as he had very poor eyesight. The moldy bread and tea with ants floating in it has become one of my favourite memories.