Listening to the birds

by Willa Condy, Trail BC

In the mornings I love taking my coffee and sitting on the porch listening to the birds. Their songs break up the quiet of the morning. This is the first sign that spring has arrived. As the days get longer and warmer we start to get itchy to get gardening.

The Better Half is starting some of the plants that will be going out in the garden.

Our big day is the 24th of May. In Canada we celebrate Victoria Day then, well, actually the day has been changed to the 4th Monday in May which turns out to actually be the 24th. In the US it is Memorial Day.

A family tradition is checking out the 5th Avenue hill to see what the Acacia bushes are doing. When they start to flower then it is safe from frost and time to plant the garden.

The B.H. will turn the garden and use our homemade fertilizer. Well, our compost.

All the plant food scraps go out to our compost pile and we use that, along with manure to enrich the soil.

Some things the B.H. does he learned from his father. That is where the powdered milk trick comes in. Powdered milk goes in before we plant our tomatoes, giving them a rich source of calcium and turns out some good tomatoes.

If the plants sprout then it will cut down what plants we have to buy. I am already checking out green bean seeds

If I said it was cheap to garden I would be exaggerating a wee bit. When you buy plants it adds up but the reward is the fresh vegetables. Nothing tastes as good as vegetables that are harvested and cooked the same day.

This year we are sticking to planting a couple of extra rows. Our garden produce will be split between ourselves, our next door neighbour who is letting us plant in her garden area and if we get a good harvest the food bank in town.

In a year filled with so many restrictions and angst the garden is something wonderful to look forward to.

Spring brings the promise of getting back outside. I have started checking on campsites and destinations that we will hopefully investigate this year.

As more people get vaccinated it seems to bring hope to this spring. Last year we dealt with staying in our bubble. Gardening was one activity that could be done safely. This year we are more hopeful that life will sometime this year begin to be normal. Well, as normal as this new reality brings.

Part of normal is planting a garden and enjoying the produce from it. Since I was a very short person I have helped with our gardens.

My folks had an acre of land and we had a nice size garden. My father and mother both lived through the dirty 30’s and my dad always said if you had a bit of land you could survive with planting a garden. We had our vegetable garden and then we had fruit trees and a raspberry patch. Breakfast in the summer was usually a bowl of raspberries that were in the fridge coated with sugar. Every day before I woke up my dad would be out picking raspberries.

Well, he also made sure I knew how to make baked beans. Baked beans taste good and they are easy to make and my dad used to make them every Saturday in winter when my brother, mother and I went skiing. It was one way of connecting with the past and the present.

We were lucky that we could have chickens on our property. Well, our parents were pretty awesome so we actually had bantams for pets along with bigger hens. My job when I was short was to go collect the eggs. I admit I was a coward as I didn’t like it when I got pecked but I didn’t want my siblings to know I was scared so I collected the eggs.

As I sit listening to the birds and sip my coffee I am getting excited for the planting season to arrive. When the garden is in then I know summer will be here soon. I can hardly wait.

Willa Condy was born and raised in the West Kootenay. She is married, lives in Trail with her “better half” and their dog Roxy. Willa is part of the baby boom and loves photography, music, writing and having fun. Her email address is

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