last entry – harrow 2009

I knew there would be little time to spent with Rainer on Saturday after all it was his birthday party and he and Lynne were hosting a large group, but I made sure to get to his house on Friday and visit with him. I knew I would have more time with Frank and Norma and with Gabriele – Rainer’s sister and the person whose house the three of us stayed at.

It was very nice to visit with Gabriele again. She was part of the group that grew up together all those years ago in Sault Ste Marie. Gabriele is a nurse who has worked all over the world for Médecins Sans Frontières for the last 20 years. The four of us spent both Friday night and Saturday, after the party, talking and talking and talking. It was familiar, comfortable and great fun.

Gabriele is slowly renovating her parents’ home and making it her own. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pahl, two people I remember fondly, have passed away. I spent many outings with the Pahl family going fishing in the small streams around Sault Ste Marie. I remember climbing the low, northern Ontario mountains collecting blueberries. Mr. and Mrs. Pahl never got lost. Mrs. Pahl taught me to play chess and she gave me some World War II book to read that was a seminal experience for me, because for the first time I knew what Europe and my parents and Rainer and Gabriele’s parent went through.

They were always very welcoming and their apartment was a retreat, a place with intelligent people who talked to us as intelligent young men and women. It was also the first place where I saw modern furniture. The Pahl’s apartment was decorated with sleek, teak furniture. No one else I knew had this type of chairs and sofas. My parents decorated in French provincial.

After breakfast, Frank, Norma and I went down to Windsor and first we drove along Riverside Drive next we went to Little Italy and window shopped and had lunch.

Dec09 028The pic is typical of what I shoot – Frank and Norma walking down Erie Street, the Little Italy of Windsor. The street was empty. We being city people couldn’t understand why. A similar street with great restaurants and specialty shops in either Toronto or Pittsburgh would be teaming on a week-end close to Christmas. Instead we had the place to ourselves. I believe this is because in Windsor this is a local street for the people who live in the area. We stopped in a small grocery store and it was busy with people who lived in the neighborhood.

We did manage to find a place for lunch and being true city nerds we had to find another place for dessert and espresso. I always enjoy spending time with Frank and Norma. We fit well after all these years and can enjoy hours together. (The pic is unique, because on the cloth sign above the MEZZO marquee is an ad and the script spells Mario.) After dessert we headed back to the county and visited one of the wineries – D’Angelo Estate.

The birthday party was well attended. I didn’t realize how big their renovated farmhouse is until I saw it full of people and there was still room to walk around. We were there for about 4 hours. Got to visit a bit with Ron and met a friend of Gabriele whose grandmother had the original Crown deed that granted the family the land they farmed. Also got to meet Rainer’s brother in law, he and his wife are the present generation farming the land. He said that a farmer needs between 600 and 800 acres in order to make a living off the land. (There’s a tipping point Malcolm Gladwell hasn’t considered.)