Merriam: Grey-Bruce tea society out to lunch
Happiness lies neither in vice nor in virtue; but in the manner we appreciate the one and the other, and the choice we make pursuant to our individual organization.
— Marquis de Sade
--- --- ---
I missed the last meeting of the Grey-Bruce Afternoon Tea and Mule Appreciation Society (AT-MAS).
I shudder to hear the results, since members are prone to electing absentees to unpopular positions.
Since all the members know my talents, or lack of same, I am confident they would not elect me as cook. However, other positions might be worse since manure cleanup may be involved.
Let me explain.
AT-MAS has nothing to do with afternoon tea and precious little to do with mules. However, it meets in the afternoon complete with amber liquids, hence the reference to tea time. And mule skinners are welcome, so long as they don’t embarrass the horse owners with too much talk of the superiority of hybrids.
AT-MAS is not a secret society. In fact the only secret is the location of meetings. However, over recent months pretty much everyone has figured out the location and most feel free to interrupt proceedings at will.
The group is all about organizing and preparing for covered wagon rides. To date only one such ride has taken place with just three founding members of AT-MAS hitching their teams to participate.
But it was a successful ride in conveyances newly converted for the task. One of these, pulled by a team of Suffolk Punch horses, looked like a Conestoga wagon. Another that resembled a Prairie Schooner was pulled by the aforementioned mules. Still another, travelling behind a team of Percherons, could have been mistaken for a gypsy caravan of old.
That initial ride was of short duration — something over 20 km round trip — with only one night on the trail, as they say. However, it lasted long enough for Thanksgiving weekend winds to come up and for at least two of the three participants to pretty much freeze up.
The covers for the wagons are made from dense material, the same as you see on tarp buildings throughout the countryside. However, the ends on two of the three wagons were fashioned from wimpy tarps that you buy for a few bucks at any hardware store.
That meant that the wind didn’t have to try too hard to make the wimpy tarps rattle and generally sound like a steam train that was choking out on a steep hill. I can bear witness to the fact that this rattling was taking place just a few inches from the head of the mule skinner driving the Prairie Schooner wagon, who barely got enough sleep to take notes so he could write a newspaper column or two about it some day.
The third wagoner on this trip added heavy blankets to his wimpy tarps and claims to have slept like a baby in an environment that was so warm he had to remove his toque. (Obviously Canadian teamsters on parade, eh?)
Currently the aforementioned AT-MAS is planning a second, longer journey this summer.
For it, we’ll have to worry more about black flies than frosty winds so the new ends better fit the wagons tightly. Maybe the members figured how that might work out at the meeting I missed.
Correction: The new commercial fishing agreement between the MNR and Saugeen Ojibway Nation includes a payment to SON of $850,000. An incorrect amount appeared in last week’s column.