From creating a haven for mason bees and koi, to crafting unique jewelry and still volunteering for Emergency Social Services, 75-year-old Marge Emery hasn’t slowed down one bit.
Her backyard is abuzz with more than a dozen beehives nailed along the fence. Mason bees are excellent pollinators for fruit trees and flowers, she says, and the abundant blossoms in her back yard seem to prove her right.
“I’m trying to encourage people to raise native bees,” Emery says, who also sells the houses.
Diving into other natural pursuits, she recently took up fishing and loves it. “I had a 25-pound salmon on the line, but I couldn’t bring it in.” The near-catch made her more determined to bring in the next one.
Emery has never shied away from taking on new things. She learned to skate the year the Juan de Fuca arena opened and was an original member of the Juan de Fuca skating club, established in 1972. In the late ’90s, she became one of the first female installers with Shaw Cable, a fascinating experience, she says.
“I met the most interesting people, and then I ended up teaching seniors how to use their computers.”
Her most consuming passion over the last few years, she says, is making beaded jewelry. “A friend and I paid $10 and took a class to learn how to make earrings. We learned how to make necklaces and then we started ordering from the States.”
A loft-type upstairs with two adjoining rooms is her sacred space in her home. “This is my area. I don’t let anybody else come up here.”
Boxes of multi-coloured beads fill shelves flanking a work table covered with jewelry in various stages of completion. She holds up a series of her newest project: fishing lure earrings. She makes two varieties: one with bendable jewelry wire, the other with actual fishing hooks, thankfully barbless and dull.
Emery is finally taking some time for herself these days, though most of her life has been dedicated to volunteer work, starting with St. John Ambulance as a teenager.
After her four children were born, she began helping out in schools.
“I’d help children read or sit with the ones with learning disabilities.”
She was heavily involved with her children’s sports teams, boy scouts and figure skating, and says she’s taught countless children how to swim through the years.
Working as a bookkeeper for most of her life, she’s also offered work experience and mentoring to a lot of adults to pass on her skills and help them get started in a career.
Emery has volunteered with ESS for nearly 20 years, is still an active member and was a founding member of the South Island Pets Team, a sort of animal emergency service created two years ago.
Though she says she is immensely proud of her many years of volunteer work, it’s not her proudest accomplishment. What is?
“Raising four children,” she says with a laugh. “I had three in diapers at one point.”
With those four grown and eight grandchildren, Emery has settled comfortably into her status of family matriarch. She doesn’t spend time in the classroom anymore, but still gives of her time regularly. An original member of the Juan de Fuca arts and crafts guild, she teaches people how to make crafts, and still does a bit of bookkeeping and mentoring.
With all that activity, Emery still has many things she wants to do. “Write a family history, I want to bring in a 25-pound fish, go to Australia.”
Whatever comes around the corner, Emery has the positive attitude to meet it with enthusiasm.
“I enjoy every day,” she says. “There’s something good in every day.”