Reflections from the Swamp
Recently my bride and I were offered the use of a cottage up in Quebec on a lake. No one has offered us the use of a cabin for years. The people who owned the place were related to a friend’s third cousin on his mother’s side. He told us that he had never been to the cottage because he got lost trying to find it. The cabin was seldom used and was “rustic.” Who cares! We’re moving up in the world and off the ground. Disregard all the hyperbole about camping in tents from my previous articles. What a load of hogwash! We were excited about not having to pack our tent and camping supplies and drive up to a place with a cooler full of food, a bottle of wine, and a few good books.
It’s a miracle that I am alive and have stopped shaking enough to tell our story. Little did we know that we were leaving the familiar world and entering the Twilight Zone.
The directions to the cottage had us passing Wakefield, driving on paved roads that changed to gravel, then to dirt and finally to a path with grass running between the wheels of our van. My bride kept franticly asking me if I was sure this was the right road. I’m one of those guys that’s always right and find it an indignity to ask for directions. If you’re a guy, you know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, if you’re a bride, you know what I’m talking about too.
We drove until the path narrowed almost too much to allow a car to pass between the trees. We squeezed along the way until a sign greeted us.
VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT
SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN
The sign startled my bride, but I passed it off as a standard greeting in redneck circles. A little farther up the trail, we saw another sign.
I OWN FIREARMS
AND A BACKHOE
My bride wondered why someone would advertise firearms and backhoe services
so far off the main road. I speculated that work was scarce in these parts, so maybe they were trying to sell raccoon pies or dig holes for outhouses. Who knows? I said it’s like when we tried to have a garage sale on a dead-end road in a swamp. We still got two customers.
We kept travelling deeper and deeper into the forest. The sun almost disappeared even though it was early afternoon. Each hill we clawed over made me more committed to finding the cottage, any cottage. How do you turn around on a narrow road like this? I felt like Captain James Kirk. My mission was to bravely go where(almost) no one had gone before. My bride’s mission was to get the hell out of here.
We thought we heard some banjo playing and a pack of bloodhounds; this time, our imaginations were fully engaged. I heard something thumping and was relieved to find it was just my heart.
Another sign appeared out of the enveloping forest with this greeting.
Guns don’t kill people
I KILL PEOPLE
We’re tired of hiding the bodies
I must admit that the last sign put my bride off a bit; I started having second thoughts. We saw a building that looked like a cabin off to the right. We snuck over for a closer look. Miracle of miracles, it was the cottage we were looking for! There was no lock on the door, so we entered, finding a kitchen with a fridge and a hotplate. The lights worked, so we put them all on because the trees had wholly blocked the natural light. We also turned the lights on because we were scared spitless. There was even a bathroom with a flushing toilet. The mystery was, how could this be electrified without any visible incoming wires?
The living room had some comfortable furniture right out of the fifties. There was a TV which worked but didn’t pick up any TV stations. A vintage VCR machine stood beside the TV with a rack of VCR tapes. I tried the VCR machine with a video, and it worked. A set of World Book encyclopedias from 1963 made up for the lack of internet and Google. A Scrabble game gave us the chance to find meaning in random letters. We felt a strong sense of relief. We thought we had returned to our past world, including our childhood. Childhood memories seeped into the present like tea from a bag into a cup.
After settling in, we started to peruse the available videos. There were about ten random tapes and a complete set of 39 videos, each with four episodes (156 altogether) of The Twilight Zone.
For younger readers, The Twilight Zone was a TV show from 1959 until 1965. The kids in our family weren’t allowed to watch The Twilight Zone because it scared the bejesus out of us. Fortunately, my parents joined a church bowling league every second Friday night, leaving us to fend for ourselves. As soon as the car pulled away, we flicked on The Twilight Zone. After the show, the dimension of imagination continued to linger on well into our dreams.
Rod Serling, the narrator, would come on and speak.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.
While at the cottage, we watched about five episodes of the Twilight Zone every day. Being isolated, disconnected to WIFI, and spooked enough to enter the dimension of imagination, the place took on a whole altered reality of its own. Leaving the cabin was like coming out of a movie theatre and adjusting to the present moment’s existence in the parking lot. At night the mournful cry of the loons under the canopy of stars helped to create an unworldly atmosphere. It made me imagine the songs sung by whales that fill the oceans, connecting them in a deep communication that emanates from the deepest places of their souls.
While driving home from the cottage and back onto the rock-hard roads ahead, I felt that confronting some of our fears left us in a new place. Our horizons were expanding.
Sometimes I think we all live a part of our lives in the Twilight Zone. Haven’t you wondered about the reality we are presented with on the news and social media? Have you felt a middle ground between what we see and hear and what we imagine we hear in our hearts? What forces are required to move us away from the prescribed realities we are fed by the world and towards a new reality that is yet to be discovered? One of the forces to overcome is fear.
On Earth, we live in a twilight zone sensing both darkness and light, and face it; we often don’t have a clue about what’s really going on. We’re living in the twilight zone. By confronting our fears, we can enter new understandings about ourselves that are still hidden in our subconscious.
We sometimes find life in the modern world filled with insanity and confusion. To escape this, we can embrace the unknown and find peace in an unfamiliar place that initially seems frightening. To find peace, we must search deep into our hearts, between the darkness and light, and into the twilight zone.