Late summer, but the garden is still resplendent with colour.
The bees are plentiful and hard at work, drawn to fragrant hosta and almost everything else, it seems.
The trees are still green.
And there are blooms everywhere.
I give thanks for this season and the ability to enjoy it. Last summer, I had a bad concussion and broken bones from a sudden fall. Luckily, my husband and an old friend both took photos so I could see bits of the garden.
This summer, life has again challenged me greatly at times — as it does to many of us. Loved ones get seriously ill or die. Another fall. A lengthy medical assessment kicks off horrible nightmares and indescribable pain; I’m shocked to find myself again staring into the abyss. I shake my head and have a few frank words with God.
But weep ye not!
I’m determined to dwell, not on the bad, but on the good that’s around me. And there is so much good, so much beauty, to be thankful for.
My husband and children are healthy. They are caringly present, especially in rough times.
Most days I am, according to my husband, “strimping along”. (I insist I’m striding or strolling, not limping.)
My relatives, neighbours and friends are never far away.
We support each other.
I surprised one dear friend with a funny birthday gift and kept a promise to another. (Tiny acts, but I know they matter.)
My sisters and daughters called; we shared words of hope, love and reassurance.
Also known as “The Marr House”, Southwinds was built of cut-stone in 1845 for Scottish immigrant Alexander Marr and his family.
Marilyn Morawetz, leader of Doors Open Clarington, says The Grange and Southwinds are excellent examples of their era.
“Both represent typical architecture at the time by or for families with much to contribute to the early development of the Kendal and Orono areas. Even the barns on both properties are wonderful examples of architecture and life at that time.”
But let’s return to the Boothmans’ grand adventure in country-living and renovating.
The renovation would take 4 long years.
But the family loved their home, even before it was completed. So did friends, who visited on weekends during and after the renovation.
Finally, all the major work was done. The barn foundations were repaired; the house was made comfortable; the pool and garden put in; the planned extension and verandah added.
The results were beautiful.
With a comfortable house, a sturdy barn and farm animals, 140 acres and spectacular views, the farm was also a gorgeous setting. Nick says:
“After we were well settled at The Grange, the outdoor Shakespearean group Driftwood Theatre Group were looking for an outdoor venue for their first dress rehearsal and they found the beautiful settings at The Grange, perfect.
“So for 6 years in a row, we would have great fun inviting friends and their families from the area and Toronto to join us for an outdoor performance of Shakespeare. Their first season was Romeo and Juliet.
“It was fun and we like to think it gave Driftwood Theatre Group a good start on what has become a very successful annual attraction in Durham Region and beyond.”
Life, of course, has its ups and downs.
In 1998, Nick became ill.
The children told Wendy: “Mummy, we’ll be okay. You focus on getting Daddy better.”
Wendy set a rule: there’d be no sadness and feeling sorry around Nick. At 5 p.m. every day, they held ‘happy hour’ in the bedroom and opened a bottle of red wine. She told visitors only funny stories and positive talk were allowed.
But one day, Wendy “needed to explode”. She drove up the hill to the spot where the whole family had gathered that first day for the picnic, got out of the car, dropped to her knees and banged on the ground with her fists, and screamed.
On her way back, a huge stag stood in one of the fields, staring at her. It didn’t flinch as she passed. Wendy felt the stag was saying: “It’s all going to be okay”.
“And it was,” says Wendy.
From that day, whenever anyone needed to scream about something happy or sad, they’d go to that spot. Today, friends still call to ask if they can go up there and “have a scream”.
That’s how the spot got its name: “Wendy’s Screaming Hill”.