A Place to Lay My Head
I recently wrote about attending a class at the School of the Arts in Haliburton, ON. I needed a place to stay during the week-long course. The school provides a list of places that offer accommodation. It is a very long list. The school has the following proviso included in the list:
Your choice of accommodation should be the result of many questions asked of your host. You are advised to discuss accommodation requirements, cancellation policies and meals with the host in advance to ensure that your visit will be everything you expect it to be. The list and information here is intended for the use of students registered at The School of The Arts. The accommodations listed have not been inspected by the college.
Bonnie’s Lavender Farm
Ultimately I booked a room with Bonnie of Bonnie’s Lavender Farm. The description from the school’s list of accommodations:
Room for rent, charming country bungalow. ‘Bonnie’s Lavender Farm’, make yourself at home. Located on private 10 acres, whimsical gardens, candyman (Llama) welcomes artists.
Mental Images-How Far Off Can They Be?
A lavender farm, whimsical, pet llama…I started to form a mental image. Bonnie would likely have long hair, she’d wear a big floppy straw hat, a long flowing summer dress and on her feet-Birkenstocks. As I drove towards her home on the first night, little did I know what an interesting person I was about to meet. The only part I got right was the long hair. As I turned into the driveway and parked in a pretty, well-tended yard with a powder blue garage. Yes, there was the corral with a llama looking out at me. Here’s a picture of the garage with a couple of the many bat houses that hang there along with the lilies in front of the veranda.
Bonnie met me on the veranda and when I went inside I was greeted by dogs barking, lots of dogs barking. Dogs barking upstairs and downstairs. I recall the information saying the owner has pets. The upstairs dog was a black standard poodle named Dancer. The dogs downstairs Bonnie said were German shepherds. They were trained as personal protection dogs and in my first few moments their barking sounded distinctly like “Don’t you bother Bonnie and don’t you make me come up there and get you!!”. I kept my distance from those downstairs dogs for the rest of the week.
So, What Do You Do?
And so, throughout my week’s stay at Bonnie’s Lavender farm, I got to know Bonnie a bit. The more we talked, the more questions I asked. The more I saw, the more questions I asked. Bonnie has done many things over the years. She has trained thoroughbred horses and various animals for television. She has raised dogs and trained dogs for personal protection and for drug and land mine detection. She currently trains standard poodles. That by itself sounds like quite a bit. It continues. Bonnie has operated farms in a few different places and on those farms she has raised sheep and bison. There was some commercial photography in there too.
Bonnie welcomes artists (yes I know, I was the exception) and you can see why. She is an artist….and a craftsperson. She loves to paint-not just the home she largely renovated but almost everything in the home and yard.
She has painted her fridge pastel green, her coffee maker is pastel green, and much to the surprise of the local mechanic, her International Harvester (IH) normally red tractor got painted green. Die hard IH enthusiasts would be mortified. At one point I told Bonnie that I needed to keep moving when in the house, lest she paint me if I sat in one spot too long.
Other art/crafts from Bonnie include outdoor art-things you can display in your garden, the bat houses you saw in the picture above, chain saw sculpture (done with her chain saw, of course), smaller wood figures done with her jigsaw, larger items like her dining room table and cupboards for displaying her products. She said she’s done using a ripsaw as during a recent project it sent a chunk of wood zinging past her head. She crochets quilts. It might have been easier to list what she isn’t capable of doing. While I went to school to learn about art composition, colour and other theory, Bonnie just seems to innately know those things. On a piece of plywood she had cut out and painted a bear and it sits in her yard. When I first saw it I waited to see if it would move. It didn’t. And neither did the two bear that she has shot when they were in the yard and after her sheep.
An Independent Spirit
The week with Bonnie was very interesting. She talked of her regular monitoring of the shopping channel and then, in the next breath, her interest in the writing of Deepak Chopra. I have no idea when she has the chance to do any of it after she has maintained her farm and pursued the arts and crafts. Maybe she reads while operating her wood splitter.
Ah yes and about the lavender. She does grow lavender. She sells lavender plants as well as her handmade soaps and lotions and creams and sachets and greeting cards and other things. She carefully wraps each product and puts it in a bag she has decorated and finally inserts a little handwritten saying she picks from a jar she has filled with same.
Who knows who you will meet when you are beyond full-time work and you have the opportunity to spend a week taking a course and staying at a farm.
Bonnie’s lavender farm. Lavender-yes. Shrinking violet-no way. Thanks Bonnie.
Bonnie and Dancer