Arbour/Arbor Day

There is a certain excitement in the air at the mention of Arbour Day. “Do you think the snow will melt in time for us to rake the school yard when its 26 C next week?”

And then, just like that, the snow does melt. Fast. Two weeks ago we had a Snow/Ice Day. But that was then, this is now.

I haven’t studied much on the history of Arbor Day and why it is “a thing.” I only know that all my school years it was ” the thing to do.” The format hasn’t changed in the last 25 years. As a teacher, it is still a fun day, but with a little more responsibility tacked onto it.

First, you are responsible for making sure you have hot dogs to roast over the fire for lunch.  But when I got to the grocery store last evening, Red Hots and Dempster shelves were EMPTY. Void. Vacant. It was that”youngest of the family” feeling passing all over me again..” OH NO. I missed it. I missed the Red Hots and Buns that were on special.”


That meant I had to buy some REALLY GOOD Maple Leaf smoked wieners that were even on for 40% off. A different brand. 5 in the package. Not a deal compared to the all BEEF RED HOTS that were clearly in all other fridges at this point.

The morning of this much anticipated day dawned bright and clear. A strong wind didn’t damper the spirits. A bit before 9AM  I stepped outside the front door. I could only imagine that scramble of everyone trying to get out the door of their homes that morning armed with rakes, roasting wires, marshmellows, on sale Red Hots , Demspter buns, back packs, homework, pails and rags… I was not disappointed.

And this wasn’t even the half…

There are unwritten agendas of who always does what. I suppose in some rare cases it wouldn’t “fly” to have such gender specific jobs. But in the world of Arbor Days and Ice cream cones, it doesn’t matter that we have been doing it the same way since the beginning of time and to change it would be to twist a legend. And then it would never be the same. So nope, can’t have boys cleaning windows and girls raking and stuff. Goodness, no.

After cleaning, raking, trash-collecting, and hearing a few trucks honk(Another trick that has stood the test of time. Boys cleaning ditches WILL make the trucks honk. There is no stopping this,) it was time to gather for lunch.

There was a BIG circle of students, Kindergarten to Grade 12, along with the teachers who gathered inside rink. Three fires were perfect temperature to roast approx. 400 wieners and maybe almost as many marshmellows. It was an emotional affair standing around that fire with some of my favourite people. The mix of wind, smoke, and ashes whirling into one’s eyes, leaves even the strongest of us gasping for air and wiping our nostrils. It was one of the worst roasting experiences I have had, eye wise, but it was also the best. Every one was giving heart felt advice on how to BEST ESCAPE the heat in the eyes and how if you lift your shirt up over the face you can still see what you are doing. So with all the good mirth and big people helping little people, it was still a good roast.

But after I had suffered over a few others RED HOTS and had gotten them off the roasting sticks , it was suddenly time to start marshmellows. I love roasting a nice, golden piece of gooey-ness, but that also involves a steady hand and not letting it touch the flame.

I didn’t always succeed, because, today was more about quantity rather than quality.

In fact, in the end, I did something that I have NEVER EVER, EVER DONE on Arbor Day before. I feel a need to confess it because I don’t want it to become a tradition in any way, shape, or form. So here goes…


” I used the microwave instead of the fire to heat the Smoked Maple Leaf Weiner” and… I loved it.  Sure, I probably missed something cognitively numbing and heart wrenchingly beautiful by not partaking in  that blackened, ashy, cold in the middle, burnt on the outside, piece of pork once-a-year- meal at school. But honestly, that was one of the best Arbor Day hotdogs I ever ate. I was actually glad I did the upgrade from Red Hots to Smoked Maple Leaf.

After everyone was full it was time to start a baseball game. There are enough Blue Jay hats to think your at a real game( just kidding) and lots of hits and outs.  The very talented  Mrs. Martin, co-teacher, hero, and friend, can ump like a pro. This was a quick picture after the game. To celebrate cleaning up around the diamond.

And then it was on to the last, highly important tradition of the day.


Scooped right into the cone. Neapolitan, Butterscotch Ripple, and Chocolate. It is a lot of scooping, but it is worth it. Right in the middle of scooping I had a 7-year-old sneak up and quietly ask for a bag. “A bag?” I repeated. It was confirmed that a bag was needed. Since this isn’t my student I couldn’t read in between the lines of what a bag might be for. Suddenly, the small, dirty, sticky hand opened up and there I saw the tiniest tooth I have seen in a long time. ” Oh, its a tooth!” I exclaimed. Stating the obvious. I told her to take it to her desk. I got left with a half eaten icecream cone ready to drip any second. But I can’t lick a students cone. One of those unwritten rules again. While still holding said cone, a former student whips his cone at me ( same condition) and said that top dropped of his cone and he needs to do put that part in the garbage. Again, I did not lick the cone. Did I mention I was also eating my own cone at the same time? eventually, both students returned for their cones.

AH yes… and so this day full of traditions is over again for another year.
But I hope there will always be Arbor Days.

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