Thanksgiving Monday was the perfect fall day to go looking for ‘the old Langley.’ I fired up the yellow truck, stuck in an Everly Brothers eight track and headed out.
The old Langley exists where there are no townhouses, condominiums or gated communities. It’s where neighbours live a half mile apart but still talk to each other regularly and nobody complains about the slow moving tractors or the smell of manure spread across the fields.
I went south on 232 Street, across Rawlison Crescent and down to River Road. I headed east beside the river and when I came to the dyke just past 264 Street, I thought there had been an accident but then realized a bunch of city folk were stopped taking pictures of a farmer who had corralled his cranberries and was pumping them out of the field. A colorful fall spectacle indeed.
Further along I pulled into the rest area at Poplar Bar, on the Langley-Abbotsford border. The number of trucks parked along the roadside were evidence the river had been opened to the sport fishermen again.
I walked down a trail to the water and was immediately eyed suspiciously by two fishermen. Anyone without a rod and a lawn chair can’t be there to fish. One was almost asleep and the other was pouring tar from his big plaid thermos.
They both told me they had been catching fish all morning but, as usual they had none to show. I was reminded of the sign that hung in my uncle’s shop: “I ask a simple question and the answer that I wish, are all the fishermen liars, or do only liars fish?”
I crossed Glen Valley through the fields of corn, pumpkins and other crops and made my way to 0 Avenue where I found a faded old barn that made a great backdrop for a photo of the truck.
Traffic was heavy with families heading home from the long weekend. I’m sure the old man in the old truck was moving way too slow because I was passed by them all, even on the solid lines. They were going too fast to see the scenery.
Then later in the week I found most of old Langley at the Celebration of Life for Milner farmer Hugh Davis. The room was full of pioneers and community builders.
Not the builders in suits we see now that leave with more money than they invest, but the community builders who know what it’s like to have mud on their boots and callouses on their hands. They came to pay respects to one of their own.
Hugh had 93 birthdays and 93 Christmas dinners on his family farm.
Hugh’s son said his dad was a loyal reader of my column. So Hugh, in the words of Canadian songwriter Murray McLauchlan, “These days when everyone’s taking so much, there’s somebody putting back in.”
Thanks for laying the old Langley foundation for the rest of us.
At least that’s what McGregor says.