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Home, away from Home

Driving over a bridge at the French River first time, long decades ago, I was struck by the landscape that challenged my views of the natural world. I left my car, and I bush-walked along the river banks. There it was, nature at work, slowly colonizing bare rock stripped by past logging before I was born.


How can I relate to layers of interconnected lifeforms on a rock surface that forms the vast environments of my own province?

Great Canadian Shield environment, French River area of Ontario
A decade later, when I mastered canoe travel, I navigated the length of this river as many past generations of Canadians did, looking for the “promised land.” They eventually found it to cultivate a thousand miles west. I found mine to hunker down and reflect on over the weekend - my secret hideaway on a small forgotten channel at the river’s delta.
Overview of Fox Channel , French River area of Ontario
Human beings are a creature of habit. As I returned there repeatedly, I developed my own adequate for this place. Morning coffee on an elevated rock, seeing the sunrise, a black bear scouting the shoreline, a deer nibbling rare patches of grass, and a beaver tirelessly dragging sticks while I was holed up there. Morning swim, midday nap, fish for supper. All needed to elevate me to a certain level of abstraction.
To truly see it all, as it was ever possible, is a slow, painstaking process. The reality of this place is unyielding, obstructed by different aspects of our lives where we spend most of our time, our most precious resource.  It has a different meaning in this place. It’s timeless, a process outside of our time-frame or control.
You just have to let it flow.
Life has always been about motion, collusion and compromise. An open-end process that one can accept and be a part of or not, regardless of the expiry date. It always starts with all kinds of contributions, and ideally, it should gracefully fade into memories of a similar nature.
Mass celebrated by Franciscan friar at French River, Ontario
Over the decades, I shared this hideaway with my friends and visitors of different countries, backgrounds, cultures, and seven different nationalities. Undoubtedly, each had an undefinable food for thoughts to take back home. I brought my daughters, their friends, partners, and distant family there. I looked forward to introducing it to my grandchildren as well.
Great Canadian Shield environment after fire, French River, Ontario

It is all gone now, a burned victim of the carelessness and negligence of construction workers far from my home of thoughts. And I’m left with an enduring presence of loss. Why is it still in me after three years?

Life, or being alive, apart from self-organized chemistry, escapes our commonly accepted definitions. We often adopt one as we go through it and according to our needs or circumstances. Looking at it in the context of other lives might warrant a better understanding, forming more meaningful relationships with Life itself. In that place, I understood that all life’s survival chances are far from easy to maintain.

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