The television coverage of my youth was sporadic. If we had a working tv, we got only three or (on a clear night) four stations, including the earnest PBS affiliate and –– Thank the big red Maple Leaf! -- the CBC station out of Kingston, Ontario.
Unlike skittish programers Stateside, the CBC broadcast Monty Python's Flying Circus in its full un-bleeped glory.
I returned to the North Country after a long break away when my sister invited me along to help with a fixer-upper cottage on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. I was glad to go. Not only are my sister and I funny together (raised on a steady diet of Monty Python and isolation, I should hope so anyhow), my sister is a clever carpenter and I was happy to trade some muscle for the chance to watch her do her craftsman-skills thing.
The cottage was rough: a utilitarian building overlooking the water from its perch on a big, long patch of rock. We put in windows and doors and painted and moved yard after square yard of topsoil. We planted some trees and added more dirt, and then ordered a few truckloads more.
I shoveled a lot of ground.
Standing in front of the seed-carousel for a few moments, entranced by the pretty pretty pictures on the rattling little packets, I picked out Bachelor Buttons (because it was Daddo's favorite), the classic red poppies (which I love, and which I thought my sister loved too, for the WWI poem that starts, "In Flanders Fields the poppies blow..."), and -- "Oooh," I said it aloud, "Lupins! Bloody lupins!"
So I took my little packets and used my best judgement. I mixed the seeds with bone-meal so they'd be more obvious for watering or -- if she didn't like my judgement -- for plucking out. I planted them in swooping lines through the shrubs and trees. I flew home a day or so later, leaving my sister to keep chugging away at the cottage.
"Did the plants come up?" I asked her in a few weeks.
A few days later, I offered to run the garbage to the dump. It's a pleasant drive to the other side of the village and the town dump is kind of interesting -- neatly organized and not-stinky interesting, rather than squalid or rat-infested interesting.
I set the bucket of deadheads next to me on the front car seat. Once I got into the village, I opened both front windows and then, as I turned onto the country road to the dump, I started flinging seedpods and dry flower-heads out the window. I was like a modern-day motorized Johnny Appleseed. I was Amy Poppyseed. Amy Bloody Lupin-seed!
A few years later, my sister sold that first cottage and got another. I heroically resisted the impulse to seed the new place with lupins. Or poppies.
Eventually, she decided to move back North full time. She found herself a new fixer-upper and I offered to help. We joked about the bloody lupins.
"Where's the new place?" I asked.
She explained that it was on the road that goes out past the dump.
"I dropped lupin-seeds and poppies all along that road!" I said.
"Yeah," she said, her voice weary. "I know."