Baba Alice, the good gardener

I had the delightful pleasure of interviewing Baba Alice Kripki and her sister Vicki Chunik in 2013 for an article in Saskatoon HOME magazine’s spring issue about their big side by side gardens. It was called The Quintessential Baba Garden – Old Country Know-How Still Flourishes. She was 96 then, and Alice loved her garden. She told me, “You need to get your hands dirty – and your feet!” She grabbed my arm and sang me little Ukrainian slightly off-colour ditties about calling your husband an ox. She was given to little fits of laughter. The secret to abundant growth? “I like to sing in the garden. Do the work, that’s all.” She, and sister Vicki, her more stoic straight man, were delightful and inspiring. It was one of my most memorable interviews. I saw Alice’s obituary today and it brought back such great memories of meeting her and Vicki, and spending a wonderul afternoon knee-deep in their garden produce in the back yard. “Will I have garden next year?” Alice responded to my question then. “Oh, sure. My kids don’t want me to work so hard.” She grinned. “But we’ll see.” Alice was 101 years old when she died on June 9th, my mother’s birthday; I guess that means gardening is a good prescription for a long life. My best to the family. I will always treasure that afternoon with the baba sisters.

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