Sunday, 19 October 2008

Pike Lake After Dark

Kenya and I headed out for our late walk with flashlight in hand and discovered that it felt like Northern Norway in winter, and also like my dad's farm in the Eastern Townships. People living in secluded places have a great deal in common, I realize.

The only time I turned the flashlight on was on my own property so I could see where my feet were as I navigated the hill to the house.

First of all there were only two houses with curtains on the windows. Rowboat Flo's and RoseMarie's ... both older women and both living in houses that are right on the main road around the lake but without being in the tiny hamlet where the houses are clustered.

In every other inhabited house the windows blazed with light allowing glimpses of the life going on inside. At this time of year several houses are empty because they are owned by cottagers, and Luigi is never home in the evenings because that is when his pizza business thrives.

The two Lises were each entertaining women friends. Gerry was visiting Andy and his wife. His own house had only Christmasy green and red lights at the front door. The entire front porch of Barrie's house was lit up and he had company. Claire and Tom were alone, as were Jenny,Tanya, Lyall and the new neighbour with the small child. I saw the blue light of two television screens.

Kenya and I walked our usual two miles all the way to the last house on the lake. The only sound we heard was the crunch of our feet on the leaf strewn road. The houses spilled out their light but the closed windows kept sound indoors.

In Northern Norway it is dark all winter and no one covers his windows. Oh, there are draperies that frame the glass, and candles and other lights in the windows, but walking in the darkness you always have a sense of community, a sense of safety. Even the children's snow forts are lit up, and ice candles line walkways.

My father's last painting was called "The Friendly Little Lights of North Troy". He died before he finished it, but the series of sketches and drafts show a man sitting in his rocking chair looking out the livingroom window of his secluded house in the mountains down toward the tiny lighted community of North Troy, many miles and a country away.

We may like to live like hermits away from people, but we take comfort in knowing that we are not completely alone, that we are still part of a community, connected to the world.

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