With all the snow outside, summer seems a bit far away, and autumn even farther. But to whet your appetite, Every September, Mountain Lake PBS supporter Susan Heller hosts an absolutely amazing event called the Roxham Wool Gathering in Hemmingford, Quebec.
A wool gathering goes back to England where farmers used to gather the wool left behind by sheep on fences, trees etc. In fact, in the 1600s, English farmers were buried with a tuft of wool on their chests so God would understand why they were never in church on Sunday!
The Roxham Wool Gathering hosts over 40 local artisans who showcase their paintings, hats, scarves, clothing, wood carvings, wool (alpaca and llama), pottery, cards, jewelry, jams and marmalades, stuffed toys, honey and more. There are 3 or 4 cooks on hand serving their homemade food, as well as Petche’s Apple juice, coffee and cakes!
Now in its 25th year, the Roxham Wool Gathering has something for everyone, including animals, a magnificent tree-house, and friendly smiles for everyone. Susan dashes about trying to be everywhere at once, including demonstrating how she cards wool and then spins it into yarn on her Icelandic spinning wheel. She hand-dyes her beautiful wool with natural products, such as onion peels and turmeric, into the most spectacular colours. If you have never knit before, you will certainly want to after seeing her beautiful yarn.
Roxham Road has more recently been in the news as it is the location of a former point of entry into Canada, where many refugees are entering Canada illegally, claiming refugee status. Sue’s farm is only a few hundred feet from the border. On a recent visit, I found her holding a home-made sign that said: ‘Welcome refugees’. I asked her if she ever saw any people crossing the border. “Oh yes,” she told me recently. “I see them all the time. Until recently you would see them walking up the road, asking ‘Am I in Canada?’. What could you do for them, but offer them some shade and some water, until the police came.”
Sue’s compassion for people extends to her animals, who have a wonderful life on her farm. She massages her sheep every day, and I now have a lovely new best friend, Mortimer the Sheep.
Save the date everyone – the 2017 Roxham Wool Gathering is September 16 and 17, from 10:00 – 4:00. Lots of free parking. Sheep massaging optional.