In the picture, before the stroke, before the nursing home, he is in his element, on his property with his dog. Rubber boots to traverse the land. Good for stepping over deadfall and striding over prairie grasses. A very purposeful stride.
He was always close to the land, always had a regard for hard work, for making do with what was at hand. Self-sufficient, self-contained. Always armed with a massive vegetable garden, he composted when the practice still raised eyebrows, collected rainwater before the era of the rain barrel, reused discarded bits and pieces long before they coined the word recycle.
He's been gone for ten years now, ten years ago today. It was only after his death that I really looked at what he left behind and began to appreciate, not just the work ethic in him, because he always seemed to be working, but the creativity that he demonstrated in the things he left behind. Things like this woodcut stamp that he made. He always did favour the oak tree.
At his funeral, we all agreed that Papa would be very disappointed that he didn't hold on until April Fool's Day, because he would have considered that to be the ultimate joke. I still believe that, to this day.
Wilhelm Georg Bruederlin