Greetings. I realize a lot of people are not big fans of winter. I get that – especially as one ages. But for those who work in a seasonal business, it’s a wonderful time of year. It is a time to recreate, recharge the batteries and think about what worked and what we can do better. Time off also allows me time to reflect. Recently we replaced the paving stones for the City of Orillia along Mississauga St. between Andrew and Albert. It was around 30 years ago when I worked for my brother Kevin and father Bill doing the same thing – installing paving stones on the main drag. Wow time flies! My Dad was right when he said, “Wait until you get older, it goes by even quicker.”
Early in the mornings, my Dad and I used to wash down the sidewalks of Mississauga St. together. We also put up the Christmas lights and wreaths every season – that always proved interesting – chatting with some of the characters we met downtown. I miss the simplicity of those days but I especially miss working with my Dad. He had a tough farm-raising-childhood that saw both his parents passed by the age of 12. At the age of 6, his father died of Tuberculosis at a hospital near Gravenhurst and his mother, of an abscessed tooth. He was the oldest of 5 kids with 3 of them being triplet brothers, which was highly unusual at the time, especially in the small town of Brechin. He turned out to be a good father, in spite of the hand he was dealt.
Back then, in the 80’s, during the installation of those paving stone sidewalks, I recall one of the downtown merchants voicing his concern to me about the tree that we planted along the boulevard and how it would block his sign. If he were alive today, I wonder if he would still have the same opinion that the downtown was no place for trees. In spite of the challenging growing conditions, those trees have grown so much and added so much value to our business core that I can’t imagine what it would be like without them. For the cost of a tree, all municipalities should put tree planting at the top of their budgets. I can’t think of a better social return on investment. They should also put some of their budget towards maintenance of those newly planted trees. I see many with tree stakes left on, branches dying back from lack of watering and no pruning of the dieback. An annual mulching would also go a long way, especially in their first two years, when they are trying to recover from transplanting. When we enjoy the shade of a tree, we owe a debt to those before us who had the foresight to plant it.
I would like to thank all of our clients and staff for another great year. It has been a privilege working for you. One of the biggest perks of my job is meeting new staff and clients and hearing their stories. I have learned that you really appreciate the sunny days so much more if you have lived through some cloudy days. I have learned to appreciate the adversity that those cloudy days challenge us with. Without them, we would not be the improved version of ourselves that we are today. From myself, my family, and staff I wish for you and your families all the joy, peace and happiness this winter has to offer. Go Leafs Go!