|The lime kilns, Stonewall, Manitoba|
1974: It must be late June, the prairie sky is inky dark, huge and splattered with stars. The warm summer breeze is doing very little to keep the mosquitoes at bay. I remember the sense of nervous anticipation as my sister and I followed our Grandma B out into that dark night, tiptoeing through her garden, creeping across the back field, brushing past the wild saskatoon bushes...then across the street and into the old limestone quarry that lie on the other side.
I was the keeper of the flashlight, my younger sister held a plastic pail clasped firmly in her four year old hands. Our grandmother was a fearless albeit graceful leader with a shovel in one hand and a scarf wrapped tightly around her curls. Just inside the quarry was a bit of scrub brush and the object of our illicit late night expedition...a solitary lady's slipper, growing defiantly amongst the rubble. The lime kilns loomed in the distance. They were not pleased.
The love of a plant may know no bounds and can compel the gardener to do all sorts of crazy things like dragging innocent granddaughters into the night to steal the provincial flower. But that is the sort of passion that my grandmother and mother had for gardening. I was unaware at the time, but their shared passion quietly crept its way into my subconscious where it lay in waiting for two decades until I was ready.
That is where my garden story begins...