April 10, 1917
A cool but sunny day, but the wind was something fierce. The wind was strong in the morning but it got worse in the afternoon. A number of shingles started to pull off the roof on the storage shed, and Shannon was fretting as the exposed plywood underneath became greater and greater.
“It’s those cedar shingles,” Shannon remarked, “They don’t stay on worth a damn when the wind kicks up.”
I had nothing to add as we both watched a future chore unfold before our eyes.
“The store house is the worst, we’ll have to replace them in the summer.” Shannon’s eyes took on a new light, ” We’ll have to replace them with those new asbestos shingles. They don’t catch on fire and they insulate good in the winter.”
Shannon had a good point. Every year, there were numerous fires around the lakes. In the winter, it usually started inside, the stove or chimney too hot, an errant ember from the fireplace, or a forgotten pipe. In the summer, fires started on the roof, from a nearby bonfire, an airborne cinder, kept alive in the fresh air and landing on the rooftop to find ample combustible material to set the entire structure on fire within minutes. I said I’d help him with the roofing, knowing full well that this chore would not be done on a sunny day (too nice) nor on a rainy day (too slippery).
The strong wind is a sure sign that the real spring weather is coming and changes by day are becoming more pronounced. There’s still a lot of snow around but pockets of brown and green are start to grow. The first true green I saw were the willow shoots. The other green, of course, is the moss and lichen on the rocks. The warmth of the sun is putting life into everything.
Daphne approached me again and asked when the wildflowers would be out. I was going to tell her to look it in the field book she had and add two weeks. I knew the first flowers were starting to come out in the city; it’s two weeks behind. I was very polite and said not for a couple weeks. I promised her that I would keep a lookout with my eyes and let her know if if I saw anything. Crocuses are about to come out any time now. They get an early start when they are in a sheltered sunny spot. Daphne’s chumming a lot with Annie. and she’s helping out in the kitchen. I know that Annie appreciates the help. Robin is not much good company. He’s still stuck out the porch, still having a hard time of it, but not as bad as the first few days.
Everyone is thinking about the War. The news today was about the big battle in France, 30,000 Canadians. I can’t imagine 30,000 Canadian soldier all in one spot, but I do know the emptiness they’ve left behind here. Most everyone knows someone who’s there or a family who has sent one of their sons. There a family in Kearney that sent all four of their sons over in 1915. They all died the same day. The Station master, when he received the telegrams, put them all in one envelope for delivery. The mother almost had a stroke when she opened the telegram. It’s terrible enough to get one, but when the deaths of your sons are announced in one envelope that’s too much to bear.
In the afternoon, I went deep into the woods to paint another snow scene. Snow banks thawing on the north side of hill. It was one of those drifts that blew over the hill’s edge. It wasn’t a particularly inspiring composition, but I enjoyed being outside watching the birds starting to arrive. I could hear a woodpecker but I saw a few sparrows, a warbler and a robin. The gulls were circling high, high, in the sky as the rain clouds were moving in. They must have been looking for open water. The air started to feel heavy and warmer. Certainly, it will rain tonight. I’m hoping the roof does’t leak at the Lodge, on the side where the guests are, at least.
When it’s warmer in a couple of weeks I’ll take Daphne out to find some wildflowers.