Parrywinkle, March 2, 2017

PHOTO BY DAVID LEGAULT

All set to compete at the Alma Quebec Games when photographed prior to the tourney are (top row) Philippe Amyotte, Zach Amyotte, Edward De La Durantaye, Joel Amyotte, Nathan Reynolds, Jay De La Durantaye, and Laurie-Anne Upton. (Bottom row) Amy Upton, Angel Stevens, Alexandra Legault, and Kaylene Mak.

Who would have ever thunk it? It's just three weeks away until spring, according to the calendar, come March 20. And given the clement climate of these past few days, and barring unforeseen snowstorms or a freakin' freezing rain deluge, it could well be right on the button as it were.

I mentioned last week in my gardening column that I was amazed to see a mini flock of five robins gobbling up sumac seeds on some of my trees like there was no tomorrow. Got a call from regular YLJ reader, Terry Hasenhuendl, telling me that she was equally amazed to see six in her garden this early in the year and all at the same time.

And then, while perambulating around town, I learned from another gentleman - whose name I did not get unfortunately - that he had counted a staggering 26 or more snapping up tree berries in his garden. “There were so many of them, I thought they were Cedar Waxwings,” he told me. “I have never seen anything like it in my life and I have lived here forever.”

Me neither and ain't that the truth?

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GOING GREEN - And truth be told, while the trees are still bare and snow carpets gardens in our neck of the woods, there sure was a lot of green showing in Hudson this past weekend. Hardly surprising really, considering that my beautiful Sunshine and I were over at the Whitlock Golf and Country Club for the first official event leading up to the 8th Annual Hudson St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 18.

With music by Tim Chambers and Vincent Griffin of Salty Dog fame - invited by the way to play in the Black Watch Military Tattoo at the Bell Centre on April 8 - and the always marvelous Bernadette Short Dancers.

Namely the selection and coronation of this year's Queen and her Court, emceed by 2011 Irishman of the Year, Pat O'Grady, and judged by Terry Girouard and Tom Whelan of The Jewel 106.7 and hairstylist Jean-Jules Séguin. I certainly didn't envy them in the role as all eight contestants did themselves - and their fans and supporters at the dinner - proud. And for a more personal profile of our Irish royal family for 2017, check out Mireille Lemelin's story on page 11. And of course, I must mention this year’s Irishman of the Year, Father Roland Demers of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, an extremely popular choice.

Behind the scenes and rarely in the spotlight, is a family of volunteers that I would like to give a big tip of the shillelagh to here. The 2017 Hudson Parade Committee comprising Jim & Austin Beauchamp, Ken Bell, Marge Crombie, Christine Booth, Min Dunne, Mike Klaiman, Scott Crowder, Frank Hicks, Tom Whelan, Gary McKeown, Patrick O'Grady, David Legault, and Jay de la Durantaye. Way to go guys and gals. Indeed you do our town proud!

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FOR ALL THE HEROES – I was speaking about Frank Hicks earlier. Irishman of the Year back in 2012, ‘ancient’ antiquarian and former owner of the now-demised Ye Auld Curiosité Shoppe in Hudson, author of three books to date, who came to Canada from Belfast, Ireland, at the ripe old age of two, and who lives with his wife Marilyn on Quarry Point. I tell you folks, this most multi-faceted and passionate 'leprechaun' never fails to amaze me.

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

New playwright Frank Hicks, shown here with Kels Deegan and Linda Walker, was happily signing copies of his book For all the Heroes at Décor and Tissus Serenity on Cameron in Hudson this past weekend. All funds collected from book sales will benefit soldiers suffering from PTSD.

Learned this past week, for example, that he has just published his first-ever play titled For all the Heroes. Dedicated to all the military, law enforcement, and emergency care workers who face daily stress and trauma with compassion and courage, and a far cry from his customary laugh-a-minute musings. As well as to his father, who died in 1999, a man he says was a hero to him and his other siblings in every way possible, who sacrificed a great deal for his country, and whose heroism will never be forgotten.

So how did this three-act play come about? Says Frank in his inimitable style, “I wrote the basic outline years ago while hospitalized for a week with a severe infection and allergic reaction to a spider bite. Between blood tests and enemas, it gave me something uplifting to do and I’ve worked on it, on and off, over the last few years.”

How would he summarize it? “In essence, it is a shocking and at times amusing chronicle of the strengths, weakness, and confusing complexities of mankind and of the horror of war. Also, it addresses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can cause a severe crippling depression to an otherwise healthy body and which has only recently been given the press and consideration it deserves.”

Copies of For all the Heroes at $10 a pop are available at Décors and Tissus Serenity, 67 Cameron in Hudson and Frank can be reached at (450) 458-1357 or by email at eirehudson@outlook.com.

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PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Now eating three bananas a day on doctor's orders, Campbell Ferguson and his beloved wife of 42 years, Ruth, have nothing but praise for the surgeons and staff at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.

AWAH THE SCOT - And now let's leave Ireland and head for Scotland. But still with a Hudson twist. I hadn't seen Campbell Ferguson at his usual post and cheery self at IGA Hudson for a while and was wondering why. When, suddenly, he appeared out of the blue early one morning this past week to be greeted like a returning hero.

I was gobsmacked to learn that, just a month or so ago, he underwent major triple bypass open heart surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital after almost passing out - and possibly expiring for good - while watching a hockey game at home on TV.

Rushed to Valleyfield Hospital, he was transferred to The Vic where the operation took place a week or so later and on his 72nd birthday to be exact on January 20. But not before - and I have this on impeccable authority from his beloved wife of 42 years, Ruth who is head cashier at IGA - he told the surgeon just before going under the scalpel, “I can't die. It is very important, I can't die.”

“Don't worry, we are not going to let you die,” replied the surgeon. “We know that your family is out there and very worried. We are not going to let you die. Relax.”

“No, no doc, you don't understand,” replied Campbell.

“What don't we understand?” asked the surgeon as gently as he could.

“I still have eight years left on my passport and it's paid for!” replied the canny Scot.

Meanwhile, his plans to travel back to his homeland this April have now been postponed until next year. What can I possibly add to that? Except to say what a Braveheart. And good to see you back Campbell!

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AN ICE TRY - In closing, as many regular readers of this column probably know by now, I'm not a big sports fan. I don't know the Ottawa Blue Jays from the Vancouver Marlins. And when it comes to curling - which has a powerful, passionate following in our community - well, I wouldn't know a brush from a rock.

That being said, I must say I was mightily impressed with a bunch of local youngsters I happened to bump in to last week and photographed below just off the ice at The Hudson Legion eagerly looking forward - as members of the Legion's Junior Program - to representing the Quebec Sud-Ouest region at the Alma Quebec Games (Jeux du Québec) this past weekend.

First time for the boys’ team and the second for the girls. Okay, so neither team made it to the semifinals. So what? They played their hearts out and held their ground - or should that be ice - against tough opposition and they are already talking about next year while paying tribute to Rob MacLean, who heads up the junior program and who tells me he is mighty proud of them.

And rightly so Rob. Sheesh, so inspired am I that I might even take up curling in the seniors’ league. Nah, there again, perhaps not!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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