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Life in Rockburn, eh?
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Nimblefoot made me jealous.
“I've been thinking about writing about my area, but have been too lazy.
On the way to the village this morning something happened. Now, the village is Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada and it's actually on the map. It was in Huntingdon that I taught high school, coached rugby, volleyball and weightlifting for thirty years and where the local computer centre is.
The centre is funded by agencies of the different levels of govt. and offers internet for 1$ an hour to members and this is how I communicate with you guys. Huntingdon is about 10 miles from the border north of Chataugay and Malone, NY.
Home is the hamlet of Rockburn (Paradise - sorry, it's full). Actually I live in the suburbs of Rockburn in the old, one room school house (Rockburn School No. 10) built in 1830. About 600 metres up the hill is 'downtown' Rockburn with a kick-@ss pub, stone Presbyterian church and flashing light at the secondary highway. It's about a mile north of the NYS border.
The area is agricultural, corn and other cash crops on the flats, especially down the the St. Lawrence River valley, with orchards and maple sugar forest on the hills where Rockburn is found - on the last ecarpment of the Adirondacks. Industry is essentially agricultral support and infrastructure.
The French language high school, where I taught English, is in Huntingdon and the English high school is in the similarly sized village (c. 1 500 people) of Ormstown about 10 miles down the road toward Montreal about 60 miles away. Outside of sports rivalry, everyone is related or gets along - I've often said the if there is a body louse in the English school on Friday, it will be at the French school on Monday and vice versa.
Well, I drove up to the flashing light to turn right to come here (Huntingdon) and there were three strangers sitting on a front balcony and one hails me down. We get a lot of foreign farm workers at harvest time, but this is highly unusual - I live in an area where few people lock their doors and where everyone knows pretty much everyone, even the Americans who cross the border on the week-end to dine at the pub. I say foreign because they appeared Hispanic and they one who spoke to me had a heavy accent.
The one who hailed me was clearly the spokesman, the others being quite glum looking. He said he was trying to get to Huntingdon and asked me if I knew the number of a taxi company there and asked where they were.
I asked him how they got there and he said a taxi driver took their money and dropped them off. He then asked where the 'freeway' is and if they could walk to it to get to Montreal. Had they known the area they would have asked to get to Ormstown, the same distance from Rockburn and closer to Montreal.
Now, we (Canucks) don't say 'freeway' and the closest ones would be about 25 miles north or east. The 'highway' that runs through Rockburn and up to Huntingdon has two lanes and not even a shoulder.
I told them to call the operator for a taxi in Huntingdon. He asked me how to tell the taxi where they were and I told him to say 'Rockburn' and the taxi would arrive at the flashing light.
Now this highway is the road that the militia took from the train station at Lacolle (across the border north of Plattsburg,, NY) to fight the Fenians who crossed the border to 'liberate' Canada in 1877 - the last invasion of Canada. Along it are a series of hamlets and the next one over has the town hall (the town being Hinchinbrooke) in it.
I told the story to Kevin, the town manager and we agreed I ought to call the SQ (state police). Anyone that lost suddenly appearing in such a remote area is quite suspicious. Also, one of the principal industries across the border in New York is prisons, both federal and state.
I called the station in Ormstown and the officer thanked me (he knew who I was). I said that if they weren't there when the patroll arrived, they'd be on their way to Huntingdon and he said he'd call the two taxis there right away. Five minutes later as I was pulling into Huntingdon I had to pull over for a cruiser barelling out of the village in the direction from which I had come.
I guess I'll find out what ahppened when I run into an officer (on or off duty).
“It's Gremmie, the under cover Mountie! ;)”
“Funny thing is he passes 12 Tim Horton's on the way to town.”
I like the idea of folks describing their towns. Perhaps a new thread is in order...”
“Believe it or not, you have to travel to the nearest cities (Valleyfield 20 miles, Châteauguay 40 miles) to find a Tim Horten's. How's that for remoteness in Canuckistan, eh?”
“Cool story, ya hoser!”
“We all get something different from this stuff, but...you actually pay to post here? lol.”
“Yes, and you're down substantially, Nimblefoot. Please send a payment immediately.”
“Good story, Gremlin.
Perhaps one day I will get a glimpse of this Paradis.”
“Sounds like you may have run into a few guys from Dannemora.
P.S. we don't call it the "freeway" in my neck of the woods either. At least the locals don't.
last edited: 1/23/08 5:18:15 AM”
“What do they call it, The Motorway?”
“It's either the Thruway or the Northway around here. Everything else just gets call by it's highway number.”
What Zac said.
“I dropped in for a beer at my buddy's place about 200 metres down the hill and told him the story.
He mentionned that when he got up (about 5.30) a car drove by slowly shining a light into the orchard then into the bush on the other side of his house. The car then came back doing the same thing.
Poachers 'jack' deer in this manner, but rarely (if ever) that close to houses. We imagined that it might have been their rendez-vous people, or even Canada Border Services or the US Border Patrol which sometimes operates on our side of the border (I don't know the official procedure).
That's about as exciting as it gets round here.
Yes, I pay to go on TT and at a dollar an hour it's worth the entertainment. It's part of a federal programme that vowed that every school and village in the country would have high speed internet by 2 000. HS is still not available where I live and I usually have something to do in the village anyway.”
“Alrighty then. We now know TT has some value. One buck an hour. Do I hear a buck and a quarter?”
“How about 1.125 Nimblefoots Per Hour?”
“I wounder if your story has any relation to me seeing about 20 different speed traps yesterday on my way up to Crown Point.”
“Hey! Them was me and my daddy and my hubsand Gissmaeioux! We was lookin for ower new werk plase at Set.-Martini or what never...
last edited: 1/24/08 4:04:13 PM”
“Gojo, do you mean STE-Martine. You guys can't go there withous dropping in.
After returning from the city (Montreal) I decided to come here (village computer centre) to talk about FYAO. I drove by Gord's place. Gord retired and bought a house here and has become part of the local colour.
His daughter moved into the area - she's a nurse at the Montreal Children's Hospital. Anyway, I saw her girl-friend standing in the lane talking on a cell.
I turned round and asked if everything was all right. 'No.' Mary answered.
Gord's daughter was inside and they had called 911 for an ambulance. Bad move.
911 gets you to the dispatcher in the closest city of Vallefield 30+ miles away. They know nothing of our area which is a little, hidden strip of tiny hamlets strung along the border with NYS.
As you rural guys know, city people (cops and ambulances) just get lost. Now, the two closest villages, Huntingdon where I am now and Ormstown have regional ambulance service and I called their dispatcher directly. Mary was upset because she was worried there would be a mix-up.
It took 18 minutes.”
“BTW, the guys in the first post were picked up. They were illegals, but we don't know the story.”
“I'm thinking that they were way off course anyway.”
“Well, as usual I drove in to the nearby village of Huntingdon to talk to youse guys at a buck an hour. The computer centre is also a club and training facility partially member financed and otherwise by a federal and provincial policy to bring the net to every village in Canada.
It's the birthday of one of the three women who operate the centre and they offered me a glass of home-made peach wine that they're drinking with lunch (birthday girl is leaving on vacation).
They're getting pretty giggly and one said they'll need to be careful as they're giving a course this afternoon.
'You know, Monsieur Murdoch, you're hearing a girls' conversation.'
'I started and coached high school girls' rugby here over twenty years and founded our club's women's team. I also coached girls' volleyball for ten years and I learned very quickly what not to see or hear.' I replied.
They got giggly again and are still at it.
We call it 'joie de vivre'.
“They just brought out the cake and sang happy birthday and took some pics - and giggled some more.”
Would a French Tickler help?”
“I'm not gonna ask.”
By now they prolly couldn't hear me.”
“Sounds like you need to pay another buck to find out where the after work party is heading!”
“"I learned very quickly what not to see or hear"
The angel-on-your-shoulder and devil-on-your-shoulder must have had some epic battles.”
Especially that little voice that keeps screaming, 'Shut the F*ck up.'
They just knocked a bottle over.”
“Gremlin, it's partay time. Do your duty.”
“Especially that little voice that keeps screaming, 'Shut the F*ck up.'
Ever notice how that voice gets quieter with the more you drink?”
“"They just knocked a bottle over."
Quick, now's your chance to be a hero.”
“That's what I'm saying. Offer to share the full bottle you happen to have purchased at the nearby liquor store for just such an occasion.”
“And don't forget the camera!”
The Canuck response ...
“... I escaped, eh?”
“My buddy called me about 15:30 yesterday. Cruella the goat dropped two twins. revision note: If they were twins there were two, dummie.
'I'll be right over.' I said.
'Pick up a case of 12.' he replied.
I got there as quickly as I could (after buying beer) and there they were. We dried them off and watched them. My buddy had pulled the teats and held the kids up to suckle.
When his wife and daughters got there they went crazy over them.
We were worried about the low temperature overnight (-17°C - 0°F?), but everything is okay. I slept with my 'phone at the bed and went over - just got back. I'll pop over to the barn once in the morning and once in the afternoon when everyone is at work or school.
No more newbies just yet, but they're all about ready to drop. No polypro now, just lined boots, jeans and a barn coat.
Wish me luck if I have to do it alone (gulp).”
“Doan lettum gitchyer goat, Gremmie!”
“I don't know nothing about birthing no goats!”
“Look anything like these?
long lost cousins perhaps?”
“Looks like I'm on a very steep learning curve. I wish I had watched it all, but seeing healthy kids the next morning is re-assuring. I ahve read up on it.
He!!, I watched the human thing twice - guess I'll just trust nature.”
“Nope, Roam, too bad.”
“Those some of your cousins, Roam?”
“could be MarkO - albeit very very distant - on my fathers side (the old goat).”
Two more kids!
“I dood it! One was already born when I arrived and the other ewe was getting out the hind feet of her kid.
Nature worked well and I don't feel as nervous now. Wiped the ears, dried them off and my buddy just got back from school and he got them suckling.
Things are pretty hectic here (hectic being a very relative term). Sugar producers have been driving round with huge plastic vats on trailers. Sap is running, but almost no-one's boiling yet. When they start (soon) the sky will be full of steam. They're pruning in the orchards.
I saw two wood ducks yesterday and amy first flock of geese the day before.
Reminds me of the time I met an old school buddy in a chi-chi bar in a much gentrified area of Montreal. 'Bob' came over and Bruce introduced me as a friend from the country.
'Where?' Bob asked.
'You wouldn't know,' I answered, 'down near the US border.'
'I've been round there.' he said.
'Rockburn, eh? Do you know Ray Arthur?
Well, I nearly spilt my beer (a felony in Canuckistan).
Ray (now with God) would buy a case of 24 beer (real beer up here), put it beside the sofa when his day was done and open all 24 bottles and drink the case before going to bed. He did that every day except maple sugar season when the work is 24 hours a day - Ray would stop cold turkey, only to go back to his old habits when boiling was over.
Well, Ray went in the house early from the fields one day and discovered his wife in bed with another man.
Things got ugly and Ray moved out to a hired man's cottage on the farm.
Ray brooded for a while and then got a little crazy, shooting up everything in the house. He ended up dragging the fridge and stove out to the front yard and shooting them up too.
The SQ arrived (SQ = state police) and since no-one was close or in danger, they waited by their cars for Ray to get tired or bored.
A crowd started to gather at a safe distance and Bob decided to call Ray who answered the 'phone.
'How's it going? Bob told me hesked Ray.
'Not too #&%!$ing great.' answered Ray.
'Ya gotta give yourself up, eh?'
'Bring me a case of beer and then I'll give myself up.'
Bob informed the cops who told him they wouldn't let him approach. I guess they (the cops) were talking to the back of his head.
They got a case of beer and drove the First Concession and down a track to the back of the house where they drank the beer and Ray gave himself up.
An den there was the time a buddy stole the pig at the Ormstown Fair, or when he hit a fawn coming home from the Rockburn pub and put it in the car to heal it and make a pet of it.
Well he petted it and it woke up. He managed to get out of the vehicle and 'phone his brother (the owner of the goats to-day) who had been in bed lo these many hours.
They ended up watching it beat itself to death in the car. The car was a lease, of course, and cost many hundreds of dollars to look right again.
I have more. Later.
Have a nice day, everyone.”
“Surete du Quebec, eh?”
Things are getting crazy here!
“Two more kids - everything's fine.
Canada is funny winter seems to last forever, then it disappears. To-day is the first day without an insulating layer under the G-Tex, although it was snowing this morning.
Suddenly the geese are back by the thousands - snows in wave after wave and Canadas on any bare patch along the road as I drove in to the village and steam billowing out of the sugar shanties. I saw a brace of woodduck, and vultures this week-end. Doves were hoohooing outside my window on the blackthorns when I woke up.
There's still a lot of snow, but it's melting and with a little luck the snows will hang round for the spring season (April 1) - my binocs stay in the car now.
Decisions, decisions. I'm trying to decide of I'll take the turkey hunting course or wait till next year.
Happy spring, everyone.”
“Sounds like here, except you got a lot more birds. Thanks for the report:)”
“Happy spring? Well over Easter we got the most productive snowfall so far this winter. At least down here.
“How does one say "WTF" in, uh..............what is your primary language?”
“I think it's "WTF, eh"”
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