Thursday, August 2, 2012

His Legacy- Johnsons Beach

And I thought, wow, what a life. What a treasure. What a memory. Last night Brydon said, "He was never a man with a lot of money. He was just a farm boy with a dream, and look what he did. Look what he left us."

Aldo Johnson passed away today with Cathy (Brydon's mom) by his side. 

He was so loved. It will be a long road to ever really saying goodbye, but he'll always be with us, in our hearts and on every spring bank where the sun meets the grass. And like the sun, he has loved and nourished us all. 

Love Lane 

And now his legacy...

My grandma loved to go berry picking. She was so in tune with nature and took such splendour in reaping in its bounty with her gentle hands, a beloved pastime from being a small girl in Ukraine. The land around my husband's family lake is bursting with fresh berries, and now that I have children of my own, I want to share this tradition with them. 

It was a cool morning and Cove was almost ready for a nap, but a misty rain, the kind that feels like a facial when it lightly touches down on your face, enveloped the muggy, stone sky. We had just endured a fabulous heat wave, so the cool comfort was welcome after the late hours of endless sunshine. Morgan was dying to take a walk, so Nanabelle (Brydon's mom) and I took her through the private access gate towards the beach, crunching down the old gravel road- a pair of wee runners, Nana's clogs and my flip-flops. We stopped every few meters to hunch down and pick, munch, pick, munch, munch, and then crunch, hunch, crunch, crunch on. 

Brydon's mom actually expressed her distaste for picking berries earlier that weekend. As a young woman, it was work, not just a leisure task for yummy sampling. Her and her sisters would spend hours under the scorching sun, picking buckets full to make jam and pies on the farm, but I think our laxidasical approach may have shifted her distaste.

I've spent some time at my husband's lake over the years, but haven't ventured out much past the family lots. There's a dozen or so of them, belonging to aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, etc. At first, going to the lake was quite overwhelming for me, like a family reunion every weekend. I grew up in a small family, always wishing it was larger and closer- well, I guess I got my wish! I've grown to love my time at the lake and even more so, appreciate it. It was originally Brydon's grandfather's pasture land he decided to hang onto, and subdivide into 49 leisure lots. A brilliant man who dreamed of keeping his family together, as they grew and grew. He wildly succeeded, even having the public beach named after him, as well as the large subdivision. This is where my husband grew up with his cousins who know every back door path, nook and cranny on the entire property. We try to spend almost every weekend in the summer  at 'Johnsons Beach'. A legacy Brydon's grandfather will always have long past his mortality. A gift beyond measure to his loved ones.

Recently, I've discovered a whole new world here with my kids, who don't allow me to sit still for more than a minute. Its wilderness has many secrets and adventures that only my husband has explored. But soon our children will grow up, weaving through the same paths, leaning against the same trees, counting the same stars, and laughing under the same moon light. I'm excited to take them on some of their first adventures, but I have a feeling, they will be taking me...and soon have the desire to scuttle off all by themselves. 

Now, back to berry picking. We must have filled that one old-school tupperware cup we brought along a dozen times with strawberries, raspberries and saskatoons. There is something so dang wholesome about berry picking. It inspires us to pause, be present in our pursuit to find the most voluptuous berry, swollen with sweetness. While Offering an invitation to actually stop and notice the nature around us. The gratification is instant as soon as we slip that berry between our lips, but what we discover along the search is even more delicious. We bonded over the berries, and the crunch, crunch, hunch, pick, munch, munch pattern our bodies did over and over again like a moving meditation under the stone sky, in the misty rain. 

Rocks that sit over looking the lake, 
painted by the family in the early 90's. 

Brydon's grandpa Johnson is in the hospital, and the family is hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst... my last memory of him was at the lake just a couple of weeks ago. We went up to his lot to fly a kite, hoping for more wind. He was sitting on his deck in the heat of the day, watching his grandson and great grand-daughter. Brydon- running like hec back and forth across the field, Morgan wildly chasing after him. The kite, puttering along until it finally caught a gust of wind, a tiny rainbow sailing high in the blue sky.

And I thought, wow, what a life. What a treasure. What a memory. Last night Brydon said, "He was never a man with a lot of money. He was just a farm boy with a dream, and look what he did. Look what he left us."


  1. berry picking definitely sounds like a task best spent with little ones so you're forced to take your time and appreciate the surroundings. So neat that man succeeded w/ the plots, what a beautiful area! what wonderful memories about brydon's grandpa, wish you all the best as well.

    1. Thanks so much! Just visited your blog again and LOVE. Hope you are having a radiant summer. xo

  2. Beautiful photos. She looks so cute in the hoodie

    1. Thank you! I love when she's just in her comfy clothes, all her natural beauty oozes out. Little girls are the best, aren't they!