Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Diana’s Quiz – April 20, 2024

by Diana Filer 1.  When did Nobel Prizes...

EARTHFEST, April 20 in Carleton Place

Second Annual EARTHFEST, April 20 in Carleton...

An Almonte baby boom

Springtime is often busy in the Almonte...
Reflections from the SwampHopping out of the Swamp

Hopping out of the Swamp

Reflections from the Swamp
Richard van Duyvendyk

Dear Reader

I hope you all are well back in Mississippi Mills. We are in Nova Scotia for two funerals postponed since Covid. My bride’s family is from the Antigonish area of Nova Scotia. The funerals were meaningful family times. Covid has left many families burying their family members long after their deaths. Funerals are often the only times that many dispersed families get together.

Are we the only ones who haven’t aged a day since we last met in 2008? After a serious look in the mirror, maybe I’ll have to include ourselves in the aged category. Most of us moved from our 50’s to our 70’s since then. What hasn’t changed is the family’s love of sitting around a table playing cards.

I feel like a foreign correspondent. Kind of like Adrian Arsenal, reporting from Ukraine. I’m writing from the St. Francis Xavier University Dorms in Antigonish. St.FX is a beautiful university with many similar brick buildings on the edge of downtown Antigonish.

It has been a long time since my bride, and I left the swamp. Often on a rainy night in the fall, frogs will hop out of the swamp and migrate to what they hope is a better pond. The ponds are always greener over the ditch. I feel like a frog that has left the swamp, hoping to discover something profound and new. I hoped my new environment would allow me to meet people who would broaden my perspective.

So far, as your foreign correspondent, I’ve discovered that Almonte doesn’t have the only Tim Horton’s coffee shop. I’ve never seen so many Timmies throughout Quebec and New Brunswick! They all have the same coffee and bagels at about the same prices. My Van pulls a little to the right if you let go of the steering wheel. My Van seems programmed to pull into any Tim Horton’s near the road. I began to wonder what cost more, a litre of gas or a litre of coffee.

I used to have a tee shirt that said, “Make Bagels, not Bombs.” I wore the shirt to a Peace demonstration during the Vietnam War on Parliament Hill in 1972. When the shirt wore out, my bride cut out the “Make Bagels not Bombs” part out and sewed it on another white tee shirt. I went on protesting long after the war was over. I only mention this because I want you to see me as a foreign war correspondent like Adrian. Yes, Adrian and I relate on a first names basis. I’d volunteer to do the evening news, except I’m usually in bed by 9.30. Adrian can stay up until 10 pm or even 11 pm. That’s why Peter Mansbridge gave her the job.

The dorm is presently filled with people on a conference who want to be active members of unions. I met a guy who wants to be a shop steward. There is a lot more to unions than organizing strikes. He loves discussing the wonders of organized labour and how unions have improved labour conditions since the late 1800s.

The rest of us are seniors looking for a reasonably priced place to stay. I met one older guy who went to Dalhousie University in Halifax back in 1974. He was young and broke and went to a bar for the first time for his first beer. The bar had a deal where hotdogs were only 5 cents if you bought a beer. He soon learned that the regulars in the bar seldom wanted the hotdog. The patrons would save their hotdogs for the young lad who collected them most evenings. He often brought ten hotdogs back to the rooming house and helped feed all the other starving students.

I felt like I met a modern version of Jesus feeding the crowds with the five loaves and two fishes. How many students graduated due to the sustenance of daily hotdogs? Maybe one of those hotdog-eating graduates went on to discover the cure for AIDS. Perhaps some of them became vegetarians because they got so sick of hotdogs. Maybe a few of them are still sitting at the bar reminiscing about the five-cent hotdogs.

New Brunswick has a four-lane highway that runs from the top to the bottom of the province. Nobody actually lives along the highway in New Brunswick. The route is nearly empty. Some fences run beside the road on both sides to keep the moose off the road. If a moose manages to get on the road, there are one-way gates every five kilometres, allowing the moose back into the wilderness. According to an historian at the pub, the road cost about 346 billion dollars to build. Some say the federal government paid for it. Others say all the revenues collected from empty beer bottles went toward paying off the highway. Still others say the Moose Hall Lodge paid for the wildlife fence to protect their antlered members. Some of the stories you hear in pubs might be myth or exaggerated.

We strayed off the road to see The Flower Pots, magnificent isolated shapes left standing after the erosion of the shoreline. The tides are the highest in the world and pound the shoreline forming caves and “flowerpots.”

The trip’s highlight is a clear ocean view with rolling waves and gulls floating in the constant breeze. The salty air is perfumed with the scent of seaweed while waves crash on the smooth stones, making you feel like you’re standing on the world’s edge.

What lies beyond the sun-kissed horizon? How many days do we have to skip our smooth stones across the rolling waves before others gather to bury our bones?

This frog has left the pond on a rainy day only to find a much bigger world with treasures strung along the beeches awaiting discovery. Each day we live and each person we meet along the beach makes the adventure a treasure.

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