I am late on the lake.
The fishing has been spotty and dusk is deepening quickly as I concede the evening contest to the bass. The waters around me, having consumed the last misty rose blush of sunset, are flat and black.
Usually I am not on the water this late. However, a young visitor to my place caught a 17.5-inch smallmouth earlier in the week and I am driven to outdo that.
The advancing darkness does not worry me. There is never total blackness out here. Stars toss dots of brightness, mimicked by those landscaping solar lights now trendy along cottage shorelines.
Then there are the campfires providing comfort and evening entertainment for the outdoor enthusiasts who have pitched tents on the lake’s breeziest points. I can see in the dancing firelight their shadowy outlines poking the campfire coals with sticks.
Why people stare into campfires and poke the coals with sticks is one of life’s great mysteries. I guess it’s because it is a calming thing to do and helps create a sense of belonging to the wilderness.
The campers’ voices carry easily across the still waters. I can’t make out their words but they are soft and reflective, and broken by long pauses. There is a calmness in the wilderness that encourages people to form a thought before they speak the words.
These quiet conversations are an appreciated change from the shrillness of urban life where yelling has become the accepted way of making your point.
Many of the lakeside campers are from the Big Smoke to the south where stillness and soft words are rare. Gunshots echo through the concrete canyons of Toronto almost every night. These days they are difficult to hear over the monotonous din of politicians pounding the ears of voters for the Oct. 19 federal election.
An important member of the Toronto elite has treated everyone to a bizarre diversion from the campaign monotony. Margaret Atwood wrote in the National Post an opinion piece on hairdos and the election campaign but it was yanked, re-edited and re-published by the Post upper brass. Apparently editors felt it was too rough on Stephen Harper, whom Atwood dislikes intensely.
One wonders why an intelligent, rich and famous writer would not write something profound about the scandalous secrecy of the federal government, instead of what she herself called “a really silly piece.”
The world needs journalism that massages our stultified minds and encourages thinking capable of producing exceptional ideas that might solve exceptional problems.
However, all that is as interesting as a pinch of raccoon poop to the folks gathered at the lakeside campfires tonight.
They are well away, at least temporarily, from campaign hair styles, the political hysteria over the Senate scandal, the constipated economy, and the fretting over how to improve the lot of the middle class, whatever that is. (What happened to concern for the poor, who earn under $20,000 a year while 12,000 Ontario “middle class” public sector workers hit the Sunshine List level of more than $100,000)?
Life is so less complicated out here on the lake. That is because the country surrounding us is a giving place.
Snow melts and replenishes the soil, which feeds the trees, which provide protective cover for birds and animals that provide food for each other. A bird that eats a berry drops the seed and another tree or bush begins to grow.
Here there are the tensions of staying alive, but there is no avarice. Nothing is owned; all is shared.
Everything that occurs here is in service for the whole, except when we humans are involved. We are takers who have little to give back, except the intelligence to manage what has been given to us.
It is fully dark when I reach my home shore and put away my fishing tackle, including the empty stringer. The campfires and the voices are gone but they have reminded me of how lucky we are to have places like this.
More places like this, and more people able to visit them, surely would lessen the madness of this world.
(From my Minden Times column this week)