Thursday October 27, 2011
Beneath the cover of a sugar maple tree, Medor Parent, 89, stacks wood. He’s a familiar face if you’ve had the occasion to drive or stroll down White Street any day of the week. For 30 years, this former farmer and retired UVM grounds keeper has been reclaiming lumber and offering firewood to his family and South Burlington neighbors. Parent has always made a living working outdoors, but these days, his outdoor work is more about living life.
Parent is no stranger to hard work. At the age of eight, he began helping his father by milking cows on a dairy farm in Canada, his native home. By 10, he quit school. Farming became his institution of learning. He moved to Fletcher, Vermont in 1948 and bought his first dairy farm, enjoying years of physical labor and the independence that comes with self employment.
In 1977, Parent relocated to South Burlington. At the age of 65, he retired from the UVM grounds department after 19 years on the job. A father to three sons and husband of sixty-five years to his wife, Mignonne, until her death in 2008, Parent says—with a distinct French accent—it’s been a good life.
Before his retirement, Parent picked up a hobby that’s kept his mind sharp and body strong for three decades. With help from his sons Leonel and Roger, both carpenters, Parent collects discarded 2x4s to repurpose into kindling and firewood. From the hard wood lumber that would have landed in the dump, Parent pulls the iron nails, cuts the boards into one-foot strips using a table saw and stacks the wood in bundles, or packages as he likes to call them. It’s a task, he says, which keeps him busy from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. every Monday through Friday. He takes the weekends off so as not to disturb the neighbors.
“He’s out there every day,” South Burlington resident Dennis Newton said. “He’s an interesting guy to talk to. He keeps in shape and gives enjoyment to the people who get wood from him.”
Neither a heart pacemaker nor aching knees slow Parent down. And like the postal service, snow nor rain deter him from his daily duty. Behind his home, a small shop shelters the elderly man from inclement weather—though indoor work breaks are permitted.
“He’s doing well for 89,” said Roger Parent with pride. “It’s a lot of work. It keeps his mind occupied and keeps him busy.”
Parent, who last year alone produced 87 packages of wood stacked three rows deep and three feet high, said, “I love it. I’ll keep going as long as I’m able.”
SOURCE: Lisa Osbahr, Contributor