With spring come the street sweepers, we hope

Bunny on street signs

Classic Queensborough in springtime: blue skies, high water on the Black River by the historic Thompson mill – and happy little Easter bunnies added to our made-in-Queensborough street signs by the beautification committee!

Peter's sap bucket

An old-fashioned (though brand-new) sap bucket for one of the small maple-syrup operations in the Queensborough neighbourhood.

There are so many things to love about the arrival of spring in pretty little Queensborough. The goldfinches and woodpeckers that appear at your bird feeders. The peepers who will soon be singing their little hearts out in every watery place (including a marshy area kitty-corner from the Manse.) The roaring high water of the Black River, and the colourful kayakers who come with it. The sight of buckets on the maple trees, signifying that someone’s making maple syrup. The brightly coloured Easter bunnies that our village’s beautification committee has placed on all the street signs.

On the other hand, there is the sand.

Let me explain. Our municipal snowplowing guy is absolutely outstanding when it comes to keeping the streets in our village and the surrounding roads safe to travel in wintertime. On snowy and icy days, he’s out there plowing and sanding at all hours of the day and night, and I know I speak for everyone when I say his efforts are very, very much appreciated.

But come springtime, we get the downside of all that sand that kept us from slip-sliding away in December, January and February. As the snow melts, what’s left behind are big piles of sand on the sides of the streets, the sidewalks – and the fronts of our yards. Every year the municipality sends around sidewalk sweepers and street sweepers (machines, I mean, not people with brooms). That’s all well and good for cleaning the streets and sidewalks (though not so much if they send them before the snow even melts, which has been known to happen). But it doesn’t help us property-owners with all the sand piled up streetside in our front yards.

Jos shovelling sand

How much sand is there? you ask. This photo (taken from a video by my friend and neighbour Marykay York-Pronk) gives you a pretty good idea. That’s her husband, Jos, chair of the beautification committee and the craftsman who made our Queensborough street signs, shovelling this past Sunday in front of their building at the heart of the village. (Photo courtesy of Marykay York-Pronk)

The good news is that this year some forward-thinking people in the community have been in communication with the municipal works department, and have wrested from the works folks an agreement that, if we’ll get the sand from our lawns onto the street, the sweepers will take it away. There’s also been some newfound communication that has resulted in us getting a heads-up as to when the sweepers will arrive, rather than it being an unannounced surprise as has generally been the case in the past. For all this good co-ordination work, I’d like to say to my friend and neighbour Anne Barry: please stand up and take a bow! We all thank you.

So if you’ve happened to drive through Queensborough over the past few days and noticed long rows of piled sand in front of several properties – well, now you know what it was all about. I did my bit today, having received notice from Anne this morning that the arrival of the sweeping machines was imminent. What? You’d like to see the fruits of my labours? Oh, I’m so glad you asked! I’m quite proud of them.

Here’s one “before” photo, showing the sand in front of the historic Kincaid house adjacent to the Manse:

Kincaid house before

And here’s the “after” shot, with the sand raked up and ready to be carted off.

Kincaid House after

And here’s a picture of what I achieved in front of the Manse itself:

Manse after raking

I have to tell you that my cleanup was accomplished thanks to good old-fashioned Queensborough neighbourliness. Research done right here in our hamlet (take a bow, Lud Kapusta) has determined that the absolute best tool for raking winter sand off the front of your lawn is this gizmo:

Best rake for sand

The best sand rake of all time, even though I believe it’s technically called a thatching/dandelion rake. Also: the boots of my friend and neighbour Ed, as he holds it up for the photo.

That photo shows Lud’s own sand rake, which I went to inspect a few days ago in the interest of knowing what I was looking for when I went shopping for one of my own. The problem, Raymond and I found out after visits to every single hardware and farm-supply store and lumber yard in the Madoc-Tweed area, is that such rakes are not easy to come by. Even online searches have proved fruitless.

So when I learned this morning that the sweepers were coming and that I’d better get my cleanup done today, I first panicked, and then did what anyone in Queensborough would do: I called my neighbours. Lud and Elaine Kapusta kindly lent me their rake for the morning, and then, when they needed it back to get their own sand cleaned up, I was able to borrow another one from Joanie Harrison. Thank you, folks!

And hey: if anyone can tell me where I can pick up one of those rakes, I would be very much obliged.

Because, you know – I’ll have to do it again next year. Hey, you live in Queensborough, it’s part of the deal.

I’m good with that.

16 thoughts on “With spring come the street sweepers, we hope

  1. We have sand, and I’m pretty sure, one of those rakes. Thanks for the tool advise. Our township said they’d give us a heads-up on the arrival of the sweepers. Guess I’d better get it done. A lot of sand a very long way from the road and a very wide front yard. I’m tired just thinking of it!

    • Oh boy – something to look forward to, Gary! I can tell you that my arms, shoulders and lower back are still complaining from my sand-raking marathon on Monday. But that rake will definitely help. I’m happy to report that yesterday I actually tracked one down, so I’m all set for sand-raking for the foreseeable future (for better or for worse)…

  2. I had last Thursday off and so raked up the front of my property that afternoon. I get about 7 cm of sand accumulation per year and haven’t been able to mow along the road edge for the past few years [sand destroys lawn mower blades quite rapidly]. So, I too have a long mound of sand about 40 cm high & 10 m in length ready for the Mun. road crews to remove. When done, I’ll re-seed the grass so that it will look beautiful for this Canada 150 year. Gotta look good for Historic Queensborough Day in Sept too!!!

    • Totally agree, Graham – it will be nice if people throughout the village get their properties spiffed up to celebrate the 150th anniversary, and of course Historic Queensborough Day. Thanks for mentioning it – mark Sept. 10 on your calendar!

    • “Noisily” being the operative word, Linda! I remember how startled I was the first spring we were at the Manse and the sweepers appeared. You might want to call your municipality and see if they can give you some advance warning. I think people having a chance to rake up their sand in Queensborough before the sweepers appear this year is going to make a big difference in how the whole village looks.

  3. Hi there. Touching base again. Hope you’re well. Didn’t have contact info or email so just leaving a comment in hopes to chat. My email is microplanning@outlook.com. If there are any conversations going on about the future of Orange Hall would love to assist somehow. I’m heading to Architecture school in LA for the Summer but likely back in the fall or next Spring. Please be in touch. All the best.

      • Let’s make it happen. Also, what’s your thoughts on the unbuilt parts of the Queensborough village grid?

      • Morgen, that’s quite the question! I guess my thoughts are that the mission is to make the built part of Queensborough as healthy, well-cared-for, economically stable and attractive to visitors and potential residents (and, dare I say it, people who might invest in the village by opening a small business or two) as possible. Then the unbuilt part might take care of itself; though I daresay most Queensborough residents (including me) would feel reluctant to see a whole lot of residential construction here. We like our village small but healthy!

      • Thanks for the well wishes. Studies will be short, soon into practice.

      • Not sure where my home and workshop will be next. Likely in USA. Looking to use internet better to support planning. Firm started is Micro Plans: illustrating improvement, stories of renewal based around real assets. Orange Hall’s a great groovy challenge. With this firm, the approach is I enable anyone to do re-planning based around local mapping and unearthing of interests. Community Planning and Design expertise is brought in second.

  4. “opening a small business or two”

    Hmmmm…we could have on the old Kincaid property the “Teahouse of the Harvest Moon & Book Emporium” [likely can’t use “August Moon” due to copyright]…

    • Well, the problem with a teahouse at the old Kincaid property is that someone (i.e. maybe me) would have to make the tea. But a book emporium – I think Raymond and I could maybe do that!

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