Eventually we got to no longer be house guests on Hazel. A house was rented on Sumas Prairie Road, in Greendale, just west of Chilliwack. A wonderful little community, with farms lining the roads, growing fruit, raising animals, many dairy farms and the abundance of life. It was a ranch style three bedroom bungalow. It had no basement but there was a small root cellar off the kitchen. The water was hard and sometimes would gush out of the taps in a rusty brownish orange. It didn’t taste great but it was wet.
Sumas Prairie Road was long. It seemed to disappear into the distance to the north where Yale Road took you back into Chilliwack, and disappear to the south, where a string of high peaks walled off the US border to prevent you from seeing America. To the west the descending mountains looked like a giant elephant laying on its side, half sunken into the earth. It was a lovely place, verdant and rich with life, but a long walk to get to anywhere.
We had no table or chairs to sit on to eat at. Father built a makeshift dining set from old two by fours. He fashioned a pair of benches, a table, painted the whole thing yellow and nailed one side of the table to the wall, beneath a large picture window. When seated at the table you could look out at the large chicken coup on one side, the barn that wasn’t ours to use, on the other, and a slat fence in between them, to keep the cows in the pasture, on the other side. Beyond that a creek flowed north to south cutting a line across the property. It came from somewhere beyond the lot and went to somewhere else. A wooden foot bridge traversed the creek so you could journey into the distant fields and pasture beyond and visit with the grazing milk cows, patched with white on black or black on white.
It was a wonderful place. Three large pear trees guarded the front yard, an apple tree defended the north side and a plum tree grew just outside the door in the back. A large empty lot to the side was to become our truck garden, producing a variety of freshly grown vegetables. It was not like a suburb that we think of today. The houses were spaced far apart and most every section of land was a base for a farming business of one sort or another.
The house is gone now, replaced by a small workshop and parking space for a tractor. The chicken coup is longer gone. It was an old dilapidated thing back when we lived there in 65. I’ll tell you a quick story about it later. The window you see in the center of the house is the bedroom I shared with the Angel Monster. Left of it was the living room, right of it the bathroom and right of that the Evil Sister got her own bedroom (not fair). Still it was kind of idyllic. Life seemed good, at least okay. And one day mother even returned from a long walk down Sumas Prairie Road to the grocery store and brought steak for dinner. It is my first recollection of ever getting to dine on real steak and even though it was a cheap cut, Chuck Steak, it was the most delicious thing. I thought perhaps we had come into some very good fortune, to have beef steak for our dinner. But that wasn’t really the case.