my love affair with canada began with fresh dairy products, and other joys

Friday evening, June 13, 2008

After spending most of Wednesday messing with our errands in town, the kids and I stayed around camp all day again on Thursday.

It had rained off and on all day on Wednesday, so it was a welcome relief to have a mostly dry day yesterday, and the kids spent the day much like Tuesday. Getting muddy, getting cold, changing clothes and listening to me read, then getting muddy and cold again.

They seemed adjusted to the weather more than me. I wore all my layers all day, as I sat in my chair, reading and watching them come and go. The fascination of the day was that a middle school group came and camped all around us (instead of in the 375 sites in the park that are not right next to us), providing lots to watch and even a little interaction. Cole lent out a couple of his light sabers and had some duels.The most amazing thing I saw from my bundled up state was that several of the middle schoolers changed into their bathing suits and went down to the lake, presumably to swim.

We heard tales of a couple of kids actually getting in, but only for a second, but still, the fact that they were even wearing such little clothing in this weather was unfathomable to me. Equally shocking was that people paraded all day in and out of the concentration camp-like showers. And actually showered in them!

I haven’t mentioned that I actually revisited the horrifying shower experience because we did eventually discover one that was lukewarm, but it was so not enough warmth to stave of the constant drafts of freezing that I cried through the entire experience and though I was later glad to be clean, I am sure I could not ever repeat the traumatizing event.

But these people…they hadn’t even been out of civilization for 24 hours and here they were voluntarily subjecting themselves to such torture.

I suppose what the gal at Trader Joes’s said to me last week was true…she had noticed my southern accent and asked me what I was doing up here.When our conversation turned to the weather, she said, Yeah, I noticed your hat. This is tank top weather for us! I’m sure the middle schoolers had a laugh or two at us in our bundles.

Even though we had enjoyed our day at camp with the middle schoolers and the slightly less muddy playground, I had been reading though the glut of brochures that I picked up at the local library and there was one that had more than caught my eye.It was the Circle Farm Tours.Need I even explain the stirrings in my heart that occurred when I found this set of brochures that describe self-guided driving tours to local farms.There are six brochures!One for each of the surrounding areas!After reading, nay savoring, each description of each farm, I decided that today that we would tour farms in and around Abbotsford, which every Chino will gladly tell you would happily make their new home.This town is nearly perfect, I assure you.What else could you possibly need in life besides a town full of local farms and yoga studios?If you are looking for a new place to live, go ahead and put Bellingham, Washington and Abbotsford, British Columbia on your list of places to check out.We began our tour in historic downtown Abbotsford at a bakery.The kids all chose cookies for breakfast, except Mary Polly who had a muffin, because cookies are too sweet for breakfast.I swear she said that.We also bought a few more treats for the road and then headed on to stop number one, Birchwood Dairy.The kids topped off their breakfast with ice cream cones, filled with ice cream that was made fresh right there.We got to visit the cows from which it was made, as well as a horse and some donkeys.I bought yogurt, of course.I love yogurt and am super fascinated with the process of making this incredibly healthy food.Some of you may remember that I have tried my hand at making it myself, on several occasions, actually.The only reason I would make it is that we do not have access to places as wonderful, as glorious as the dairy farms we visited today.My black raspberry yogurt was other worldly I tell you.Then, just to make the dairy seem even more like heaven, the sun came out while we were eating our ice cream and yogurt, outside at the picnic tables.The whole scene was so beautiful with the farmland all around and a little playground area for the kids.And the ladies at the dairy were so nice to us.We watched several people come and eat lunch at the little farm store, which also serves sandwiches.The kids were so happy playing that I pulled out my computer and wrote about the book I’d been reading.It was like a little breath of lovely.After I wrote for a while and they played a bit longer, we all loaded up and headed to stop number two.Some fighting on the way to the Fraser River Trout Hatchery caused Cole to miss stop number two, which was fine with him, so he sat in the van while the rest of us went to learn about trout.We learned about all the different kinds of trout, trout habitats, trout spawning and trout babies (or “fry”).I was afraid that the kids might be bored, but the exhibits were really neat.Plus there were several different ponds filled where you could watch the trout swim, which totally thrilled Simon.We got to see several great white sturgeon. I had no idea how big they are.Really big, and they can live to be more than 100 years old.Isn’t that amazing?They had this book that I read to the kids called Tale of a Great White Fish that I loved.And it is set in the Fraser River, which we were driving around all day.It is about the changes that have occurred to the sturgeon’s habitat over its long life, which has Mary Polly talking about littering and development like a member of the Green Party.Love it.And if all the free exhibits weren’t enough, the hatchery was having some sort of reception that was coming to an end, so one of the ladies who worked there invited us to share in the leftovers.So we had yummy sandwiches, fruit and veggies for lunch.For free.We even took some to Cole, who was very appreciative after his hour in the van reading.He was in a much better mood as we drove to our next stop which was a strawberry farm that does not yet have strawberries.Too much rain and cold, to which we can testify.Next we drove past millions of not yet ripe raspberry bushes to get to a bee farm, where we sampled all different kinds of honey and bought our favorite, raspberry honey to take back to camp with us.Rossdown Farm Market was next, where we didn’t buy anything but I enjoyed talking to the owner who told me that her husband had just been visiting in Arkansas to learn about chickens, which they raise and sell in their market.She was so kind, and gave me some ideas for fun places to go with the kids in the area and I really could have visited with her all day but my kids were starting to go positively wild in the place so we moved on.We passed by this beautiful nursery with the most lovely gardens, and it was on our stop list, but I just didn’t think the kids were going to respect the flowers, especially Simon at this point.We had one stop left on our list.It was getting late and I wasn’t sure when Taido wanted us to pick him up from the library, since he can’t call me.So many people had been so nice to us today, that I thought maybe we should stop while we were ahead and skip the last stop, plus Simon was falling asleep.And then I made a wrong turn down a dirt road that about sealed the deal, but something was just pulling me towards the idea of visiting a goat dairy farm.So we persevered and made it to the absolutely enchanting Goats’ Pride Dairy at McLennan Creek.I am so happy we didn’t miss this lovely experience.The lady at the goat farm told us all about the whole process.She introduced us to all the different goats…baby goats, five month olds, yearlings and those ready for milking.She let us peek in at what was being made today, yogurt.She showed us the apple trees, pear trees, walnut trees, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats in addition to goats and she even directed us towards a walk to a stream where salmon have spawned and their babies are swimming and along which grows delicate watercress.We stayed over an hour seeing everything, and then Simon woke up and the kids went all around again, showing him everything.We bought two different kinds of cheese and some yogurt, all fresh, all made right there with organic goats’ milk.Everyone said it was their favorite stop, and we loved it even more when we later ate the cheese that was so delectable we are contriving ways to go back.We said goodbye to the sweet goats and drove back to the library to pick up Taido, who was just finishing up.It was such a lovely day that now I want to do the other five circle farm tours, though I can’t imagine we could enjoy a group of farms as much as we did those in Abbotsford.It is hard to say if I am more giddy tonight because of our delightful day or at the prospect of getting to check into the house tomorrow!It feels like Christmas.I’m sure I won’t be able to sleep a wink for all the excitement.