Takin’ a Peek
Chipmunk drawing as a reminder of a happy childhood
Chipmunk drawing by Owen Garratt
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of summers spent with my maternal grandmother at The Beach.
Mom’s family collectively owned four clapboard cabins on about ten rolling and pleasantly brushed acres at Buena Vista, about a half hour from Regina. My Great-grandfather and hero, Dr. Dick Bird (Grandma’s dad) retired there, and Grandma and Grandpa bought the adjoining lots over the years as they became available.
An Ideal Childhood
Until I saw Jaws on TV, which kept me out of the water for the entire 1976 calendar year, I swam in the lake, hung out with my cousins, made forts, read comics, drew pictures, played with Johnny West and Planet of the Apes action figures, had Sunday fish n’ chips from Butler’s in Regina Beach, talked with Grandma until after midnight, and picked and ate enough Saskatoon berries to almost change me purple.
Oddly, Grandpa refused to spend the night at The Beach. He’d drive out for supper, then make the inevitable excuse that he had to get back to the city for McGinty, their vast and sinister cat.
Eventually, Grandma told me why he didn’t ever stay overnight.
“He just doesn’t feel comfortable out here at night. He likes to be here during the day, but after dark, he just can’t settle. But he knows how much I love it, so he doesn’t try to convince me to come back, and I don’t try and convince him to stay.”
So The Beach was all about Grandma time. I would stay with her for weeks at a stretch, only going back to the city for the Buffalo Days Summer Exhibition, or visiting Dad on his farm.
Not The Ritz
Unlike now, where an empty lot is over $100,000 and million dollar properties aren’t uncommon, in the 70’s we had to haul our drinking water from the city and use an outhouse. It was a big freakin’ deal when Grandpa swung for a septic tank in 1978.
On chilly nights we used an ancient oil burning furnace that dominated the living room. I’ve never seen another like it before or since. It tinked and groaned and roared and threatened at any second to either break into a conflagration or slowly poison us in our sleep. Even as a teen, I refused to light the damn thing. I don’t even know where you’d get the oil to feed it; where the hell do you find “fuel oil”?!
I loved every minute of The Beach (the minutes spent in the outhouse notwithstanding).
The ancient oil burning furnace tinked and groaned and roared and threatened at any second to either break into a conflagration or slowly poison us in our sleep.Click to tweet
“Um, Owen? You were going to talk about chipmunks?”
Anyhoo, when I was little, I noticed was that Grandma always made far too much toast for breakfast, and rather than waste the leftovers, we fed them to the neighborhood chipmunks.
“Wait…who eats the extra toast when we’re in the city?!” I asked.
Apparently, toast overruns were strictly a summer problem.
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Owen on Memories
"The events in my life - marriage, fatherhood, laughter with worthwhile people, bereavements, good songs, bad choices, onslaughts of challenges and occasional triumphs are all reflected in the drawings I create.
The artwork may have nothing to do with the event, but every drawing is charged with the emotions of the time.
It's like hearing that certain song come on the radio and BOOM - you're right back in high school with a broken heart...
I don't see the subjects of my drawings, really. I'm pulled back into what was happening in my life at the time I was drawing it. It demonstrates how life and art are inextricably linked."
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