Wednesday, 1 December 2010


About a million years ago I was told by a psychic that I would only be happy living within the sound, sight and smell of water.   Shortly after that reading my partner and I began spending our winters on the island of Eleuthera within sight and sound of the Atlantic waves crashing on one shoreline and a short bike ride to the Caribbean's more placid shore.  I was happy there.  The psychic had been right.

But I already knew it was true because I've always sought water as a place to write or study or think.

As a child, I found that peace living on Lake Promenade in Long Branch,  right across the road from Lake Ontario, our summer playground.  A few years later, I would skip school in order to sit by the North West Arm in Halifax.  Later still, it was Lake St. Louis, part of the St. Laurence River system, that drew me to it.  Since the late seventies, Pike Lake has been my watery source of sanity and grace.  

Today the rains that are flooding our area have transformed my chortling little run-off stream into a torrential rushing river that storms down from the mountain enroute to the lake.  It is so noisy that I have had to close the window in order to think, so right now it sounds more like background white noise.  But really ... I love the sound of tumbling water.  I will take Kenya out soon so that we can visit all the little waterways that feed Pike Lake.

We will likely take the same route we took on Monday when a friend came out to walk Kenya with me.  We went up to the Five Lakes Fishing Club, an elite club with restricted membership ... you know ... the kind that can blackball potential members if they don't meet their rigorous class-based expectations.

My friend said, "One day this will all be only for the privileged few."

I replied that it already was.

But he wasn't talking about Five Lakes; he meant everything up here in these hills ... Pike Lake ... his own place with its magnificent view over the Gatineau River ... the Park trails where we have access to nature (as long as we don't have our dogs with us :-)

He meant that in twenty years only the very wealthy will be able to have a stream rushing past their home, or a lakefront property that provides them with peace, or acreage so big that you cannot see your neighbour's house.  We are the last generation to be able to live this way without great wealth.

And yes ... I know what a privilege that is.


kingmisha said...

I've always known that I'm already enjoying the lifestyle of a very privileged few. But I have a very different understanding of privilege.

When I experience the sounds of water and the turbulent beauty of nature, I don't see how it could be developed, how much money could be made from it or how many motorized toys I can use to disturb the serenity. I just enjoy and appreciate what is.

In that, I've always been in the minority. With the growth of the green movement our values are starting to be starting to be heard. We are no longer "those weird tree huggers". But as the population grows and resources lessen, a confrontation is pending.

Privilege to me, means knowing the "real" value of land and having the ability to protect it. We are currently enjoying peace before the storm. This may be selfish, but I'm really glad that I'll not be here to witness the outcome.

Oma said...

I agree with everything you have written here, kingmisha.

And, like you, I am not sorry that I am the age I am, because I don't think I could ever be happy living in a world where nature is out of reach.

Many many years ago I was boating with a friend on Dow's Lake. It was during the school year and we had some time off. It felt as if we were skipping school to have fun. I was feeling just how lucky we were to be enjoying the sunshine, the little lake, the new green growth everywhere around us, reveling in the fact that this joy was possible in the middle of our city.

And then she said, "I would like to buy all this to have it forever."

I am sure my mouth dropped open.

I said, "I was just thinking how lucky we were that this was so freely available here."

And that, I think, made absolutely clear to me the difference in viewpoints on natural beauty and access to it.

That is going to be one of the battlegrounds, I think.

Barbara Carlson said...

I think the end of oil (perhaps not in our lifetime, but soon after) will be good for out of the way places -- keep them isolated, saved for people who just want to live off the land.
Even the suburbs will be hard to reach on a computing basis, turning them into ghost towns. It has already started in the US, with hundreds of developments just abandoned, half-built, as money & buyers petered out.
Downtown Ottawa is seeing condos built at record rates.

Perhaps a life of privilege in the future will be for those who can live happily with less.

Barbara Carlson said...

That's commuting basis (!)

On a computing basis, they are instantly accessible!

Oma said...

I have a feeling that is already true ... that the truly lucky people are those who are happier with less.

I expect that when the oil runs out something else will be found to take its place, or more and more people will work from home.

You can only pack so many people into the core of cities.