As most kids do, I looked forward to the summer months of my childhood. The days of freedom, that grew into seasons spent in tobacco, bean or cucumber fields, still hold special memories for me. Some of the best were centred around my cousins who along with their mother, Olive, made the annual pilgrimage from Florida to my grandparents farm in Kent County. It was an August delight.
There were many shenanigans, sibling-like fights and lots of fun in the barn and swimming holes. We learned to drive on farm pathways, dodged thunderstorms and laughed. Until we couldn’t stand. And then laughed more.
My Aunt Olive, who was one year older than my Dad, was born in 1932. I have wondered where her exotic name came from. “Olive”, was a favourite of many North American families in the early 1900’s, even breaking the top 100 most popular names of girls for decades. When my aunt was reaching her teenaged years, very few girls were given her moniker. Then, the name faded into obscurity for 50 years. It wasn’t until the turn of this 21st century that celebrities started to resurrect the name and it’s popularity is blooming again.
Our Olive was a beauty, raised on a farm. Some of the boys called her “Big Red” as she was taller than another auburn-headed neighbour. I think she may have been the first member of our family to study past high school. She graduated from the Public General Hospital School of Nursing in Chatham in the 1950’s and in a few years, married an American. In the 1960’s they moved to Florida, but other than a couple of years when they lived in Africa, I don’t think she missed coming to the farm each summer.
Eventually, she brought grandchildren rather than children and in the final years, only her and her retired husband and the dog came.
August was her favourite time to visit. Whether that was because it was the hottest month in Florida, or because it was the birth month of both her and her mother, my Grandma Spence, I don’t know. But I always looked forward to her arrival.
Of course, over the years her vibrant rusty red hair turned a luminescent silvery-copper. She kept it trimmed short, with tight waves caressing her scalp as if it was tucked under her white nurse’s cap. Her sun-bleached freckles peaked out between her wrinkles. And her voice, roughened by decades of smoking, would break into a laugh. She wore red lipstick, even at the farm. And matching shorts and sleeveless tank tops.
When she arrived, the coffee pot appeared from some hidden spot. It would disappear, just like her, at the end of her visit. For the remainder of the year, everyone else was expected to drink tea.
I’ve been thinking about Aunt Olive quite a bit in the last few days, as thunderstorms roll through the countryside, douse us with rain and leave us refreshed.
It was serendipitous how my memory of her and my current conundrum came together. Last week, I bought a beautiful new bicycle. It is a Liv Devote 2. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the brand or the model, I only discovered it earlier this year as I was looking for a new ride. To keep it brief, Liv is a company that creates bikes for women and has some very nice ones for gravel road riding.
One interesting thing about bicycle models is that they don’t offer much variety in colour selection and in fact, the Liv Devote 2 only comes in one colour – Terra Cotta. It’s a beautiful rusty-orange, reddish brown. One of my favourite colours as a matter of fact.
I’m very happy with this new bicycle and will likely have it for a long time. I spend alot of time with it. Just me and my bike rolling along the roads. So, I thought I should name this beauty. As I biked the other day, I tried some names: Sally, Sweetie, Lily, Libby, Lizzy, Livvy … OL-LIV. That’s it, I thought.
Perfect. A red-head who arrived in August to delight me with her good looks, gusto and grit. Meet Ollie – An August Delight:
Meet Ollie An August Delight
You can join me and Ollie on bike rides and clinics by checking out our Back Road Biking page. https://crazy8barn.com/back-road-cycling-tours-and-clinics-in-southwestern-ontario/
If you want to know more about cycling in Ontario, visit https://www.ontariobybike.ca/