I always looked forward to visits with Donald. No one else will ever greet me with that twinkle and a little jab, “You’ve put on a pound or two.”
And he always had so much going on.
Once when we arrived, Donald was heading out with a little pail in his hand to gather the eggs. He was disappointed to find that one of the eggs was cracked. A hen had laid an egg onto some others.
Another time, Donald was out checking his traps; he came in with a coyote. Buzzards lent him a hand that winter; he’d hang up a skinned coyote where his traps are and when other coyotes saw buzzards congregating, they headed for the same spot . . .
He loved gardening. Karen said he used to be out at 6 am working in his huge garden. (Once, he had trouble finding carrot seeds but finally came up with some in Russell. “It’s too late to put those in,” the guy said, but Karen & Donald had a laugh because they said the carrots would be just perfect in late fall – take them out just before the ground freezes.) Donald even put in some of those new Haskap bushes – a cross between raspberries & blueberries that’s being developed in Saskatoon.
Bees were his latest interest. He was going to buy bees at an auction for about $150.00 but “The government will pay half,” he chuckled, “because they’re paying me to trap nuisance beavers.” I asked if he ever tried cooking the beaver tails (which I’d read were considered a delicacy by native people) but the tails had to be sent off in order to collect the bounty.
Donald’s dog, Butch, got to eat the rest of the beavers.
Every time we went, we’d go to Birtle for a Chinese dinner. Donald’s favourite dish was sweet and sour shrimp, very lightly breaded.
Then we'd go home; our car loaded up with vegetables and honey and the pickles Donald made.
Manitoba has lost so much colour now that my brother Donald is gone.