Reflections from the Swamp
I hope you have cleared all the leaves, stacked all the wood, and put on your winter tires. Winter is just around the corner (and so is Corkery.) Soon I’ll be able to walk on water (as did our Lord) and visit wet, swampy areas, which inhibit travel during the warmer months. The Universe expands every winter around here.
Two road signs went up this summer on March Road. One near the Ottawa city limits on The Burnt lands and the other as you head west off the 417 towards Almonte on March Road. Both signs recognize the unceded territory of Corkery. The area between these signs has a name, not a new name, but a name that resurrects an old name lost by map makers. Corkery.
For many of us Corkarians, Almonte has been our town. To understand why this is so, drive around Corkery and look for the downtown. Many Almontians have roamed around Corkery looking for our downtown. We don’t tell them where the downtown is. If we did, developers might set up a mall or a Walmart, and the whole atmosphere of our place would change forever.
To qualify as a small town, you must have few people. Almonte used to be a small town; however, it has been growing exponentially as of late and seems like a big town now. We hear discussions about when the Walmarts and McDonald’s will move into Almonte and how to stop them.
Corkery must have a law prohibiting stores because we don’t have any. Sure, we have a few market gardeners, local butchers and people who sell eggs. There are more cows in Corkery than people. That’s why you see signs offering hay for sale on the roads, which some of our brighter cows have learned to read.
Bigger towns always seem to have construction projects like the one in downtown Almonte. In Corkery, we have several dam projects every summer. Local hairy engineers are building bridges across the mighty Cody creek. They use locally sourced materials such as trees that once adorned our lawns.
My kids would complain from time to time about living in Corkery. I said Corkery is a place where there’s no place to go where you shouldn’t. Here, you get a chance to do a lot of different kinds of things. My kids and their friends camped in the bush or the sand pits behind the school. Not every kid can muck out a barn, canoe out in a swamp, or build forts on the Crown Lands. We had a skating rink on the pond when the kids were growing up. Many hockey dreams were born on the swamp.
Corkery makes up for the lack of people by making everyone more interesting. Corkery has more UFO sightings than any other jurisdiction. A small town has as many eyes as a fly. I was wearing my hip waders, cleaning out the culverts which the beavers plugged up several weeks ago. No one drove by or saw me. Last week I met someone at Timmy’s who said, “You must have cleaned the beaver sticks out your driveway; the water in the creek went up by my place, and we didn’t have any rain. People always know what is going on, even if they don’t see what you are doing.
The bad thing about living in a small town is that everything becomes a personal issue. The good thing about living in a small town is that everything becomes a personal issue. During times of trouble, the support system is massive.
When our house burnt down, we were overwhelmed by neighbours helping to look after our kids, supplying us with furniture and clothes, and coming in droves on weekends to help build a new house.
I am happy to see the new signs on the highway proclaiming to all that Corkery is an entity. Of course, we Corkarians always knew this. It’s excellent that Almonte now knows the name of its new eastern neighbour. Names are important. I wish everyone I met had their name plastered across their chest. It’s becoming more common to forget people’s names as we enter our autumn years.
Almonte is still our town, full of friends, stores, and charm. No other place gives me the strong sense of home I feel in Corkery and Almonte.
I hope Corkery will always have its glorious swamps. I’ll try to keep you, dear reader, abreast of any new changing signs of our times. Corkery has east and west boundary signs; I’ll write an article when we find out when our north and south boundaries are. Meanwhile, when you drive into Corkery, take a few side roads. Who knows, you may be the one who discovers our downtown!