North of 70

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Miller is a blogger and lover of Almonte and new contributor to the Millstone. He will contribute his personal stories and musings to Your Stories in the Millstone from time to time.

by Bob Miller

I hope to be a contributor to the Millstone from time to time so I should begin by introducing myself. What you really need to know about me is that I am a card carrying member of the Almonte community, or at least of the Elizabeth Kelly public library. This might not strike you as unusual until I point out that I live in the middle of downtown Ottawa, a good 35 minutes to the east of the library. When I told the librarian I wanted a card she wasn’t sure she could sell me one but in the end she could and did.

What, you might ask, causes a man of advanced years (we will get to that) to take out a library card so far from his place of residence? The answer is quite simple. I have a crush on Almonte. I have long admired her from afar and find every excuse to visit but a library card makes it seem more like a serious relationship – like going steady in the old days.

At the time of my first visit to Almonte, I was seven years old (which is now going on 69 years ago so you do the math). On that occasion I had lunch with my mother and my grandparents from Carleton Place at great uncle Peter McCallum’s big house with the beautiful wood panelling. When the house sold a few years ago I did a virtual tour of the place and felt shivers down my spine from the familiarity of it. As a young married man, my wife and I nearly bought a solid two story red brick home in Almonte, one that then served as both residence and undertaking establishment. I don’t think we were put off by the unusual commercial use of the place because we then turned around and bought a house in Richmond next to the big cemetery.

For the past several years I have been arranging with local real estate agents to take me around to look at condos and houses and rental apartments which I think I might buy, but then don’t buy. The agents now lock the doors and lower the blinds when they see me coming. I realize that I will probably remain a distant admirer of Almonte’s but with regular visits to the things that draw me here like the Almonte Roundtable and a farm on the edge of town where I help with the bees. And, of course, I will come to the library where I love to sit and read in its lovely homey space. I intend to make good use of that card.