Living

Uglydolls and Micmac Basket

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This is our Uglydoll family. My wife keeps them in a traditional Micmac basket, which the folks back home in Aroostook County use for the potato harvest.

The Mi’kmaq tribe is native to and mostly lives in the Maritime provinces of Canada. We bought the basket, which has sentimental value because of my younger days as a potato picker, from the Aroostook band of Micmacs in 1996. White as I am, one of ancestors is Micmac. 

Growing up, school started in August, so there could be a three-week recess for the harvest in September and October. All ages. In this century, just high schoolers pitch in and earn cash for school clothes and supplies. In my youth, we bought our own after the harvest, not during what most people consider the back-to-school buying season.

Potato picking is arduous work. A harvester turns over the earth, revealing vines with spuds attached. Workers bend over and pull potatoes from the vines, throwing them in a basket, which when full is carried and dumped into a barrel. Your back hurts!

Greater use of mechanical harvesters and decline in farming mean less need for workers, which is one reason the younger students stay in school now, that is in my home town. Some communities let out the younger grades for logistical reasons, even though they no longer pick potatoes.

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