Pit lamping in Parkdale 

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective
Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

On my way home tonight I decided to check out one of my streets that has an interesting assortment of old houses, some which are run  down but many have been well maintained. All are interesting to look at.

It is encouraging to see the owners trying to maintain the original character of these old homes.

One particular house I always like to check has a circular sidewalk leading to the entrance.

In the middle of the circle is a garden with old fashioned lavender plant.  An old English tradition.

As I walked by tonight, I noticed the walkway was newly paved with the cement still fresh. 

I looked further toward the house and there was someone sitting on the porch.

I spoke a friendly 'hello' to the occupant and mentioned his new cement walkway and how good it looked.

He replied, "Yes I'm on night watch against the raccoons they cross over here at night. And also the 'tom cats'."

He explained that he was guarding his walkway against pawprints.

I told him that on Bloor Street I had noticed that on one city sidewalk they had put a gunnysack over the cement.  I assumed to stop squirrel pawprints. Maybe he could do that.

He said that was not why the sack was there. The sack was to keep the cement temperature just right. To stop it from getting too cold.

"How interesting, I'm glad I spoke with you. I learned something."

I said, you sitting there at night reminds me of my Uncle John on Saltspring Island, B.C. where I was born and where I spent my summer months after moving to Vancouver Island.

Uncle John was a pioneer on Saltspring Island and in the back field of his property he had a wonderful vegetable garden.

Each night he would disappear and I would ask my Aunt Maud, "Where is Uncle John". 

He is in the back field, she said 

At night?

Yes, replied Aunty Maud.

I discovered he was pit lamping.

My neighbour on the porch said. I'm an academic and have never heard that term "pit lamping".

I explained, the deer were threatening my uncle's new vegetable crop and so he went every night, sat in a tree with a lamp light and a shot gun.

Mostly he scared the deer but occasionally he decided to fill the larder for winter.

My aunt would prepare the deer meat, while making the most wonderful treat: preserved jellied deer meat.

My neighbour replied how interesting. Now I've learned something.,

I commented how nice it was to talk and exchange information.

We both learned something.

He replied, yes, please drop by some day and talk with my family.

I replied, yes, and left eager to know how successful his night watch would be.

I'm tempted to join him and help protect his walk from footprints in the night.

My Parkdale.