Thursday, 21 January 2016

The wilderness re-visited


I was just saying that I heard on the BBC World Service this morning of a Canadian local newspaper which had as its front page, a statement saying that nothing had happened in the region which merited reporting on the front page, and it sent me into a dreamy reverie about what it must be like to live in such a peaceful place, far from the cares and worries that surround us in the rest of the world.

An American newspaper once held a competition to create the title of a T.V. program most likely to make us switch off the T.V.  The winner was, 'Canada - Sleeping Giant of the North'.

There used to be a tradition here in the U.K. where every seedy little cafe (we call them 'Greasy-Spoons') had one wall entirely papered with a giant, blown-up photo of a Canadian lakeside in Autumn, with not a road in sight but a reflection of lurid, rust-red trees reflected perfectly in the still water.

I once flew to New York via a route which took us up and over Scotland, then right down through New York State before arriving in the city. I spent two solid hours peering down out of the window from 30,000 feet as we flew over virgin forest, trying in vain to spot a single house, road, track or any other sign of human habitation. Two hours at 600 miles an hour, and not a track did I spot.

I drove from Denver to Boulder, Colorado once, up into the mountains and expecting to see a bear around every bend. We parked up and the first thing I saw was an eagle, high above the park. The next thing we saw was a group of female moose, grazing at a patch of grass on a traffic island, right between two lanes of the local, very quiet, by-pass.

Yes, Boulder is a deeply rural, peaceful place, but it has a sort of buzz whereby you can tell immediately that there are a load of ageing hippies behind the wooden walls, all designing software or creating different types of organic ice-cream for international sale and export. In Canada, most of the ageing population seem to be made up of British ex-pats with no interest in ice-cream other than eating it. "We came here to be near our daughter and grandchildren", was the usual explanation. I wonder why their daughters went there...

Do you, when the news gets bad, have a fantasy which involves installing yourself in a remote cottage and sitting out the winter with nothing but food, drink and a peat fire to keep you company? (Cro need not answer this question).

(I have the strong conviction that I have already done this post some time ago, but I can't remember it so why should you?)

28 comments:

  1. When world events get messy (essentially, every day), I'm grateful that I live in a quiet corner of Western Massachusetts, only an hour and a half from Boston, but basically on the other side of the moon. My father used to dream occasionally about a mountain top in West Virginia, but then he was an analyst with the CIA and probably had more incentive that most of us.

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    1. Yes, I think if you are part of the CIA, nowhere will be ultimately peaceful! Thanks, Marty.

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  2. I also once heard that a group of publishers got together to decide what would be the most unsaleable book title ever. They couldn't decide, but all agreed that it would have to have 'Canada' in it's title.

    No doubt a story from the same pen as your Para 2.

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  3. I believe it's a fact that North America is populated by people and the descendants of people you describe. My Irish ancestors left in the troubles of the mid 19th century; my German ancestors left at the same time. Too much foment all over Europe, I guess. My English ancestors seem to have been here forever; I can't get a fix on when the Cox's appeared. My husband's ancestors, on the other hand, were failed mercenaries. A Hessian soldier who didn't go home.

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    1. There are quite a few mercenaries who are about to horribly fail in the Middle East right now, but they knew the risks.

      Everyone runs, but after a few years they wonder why they didn't stay put - apart from the Jews in 1939.

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  4. I've tried short spells in remote cottages and I wouldn't fancy doing it for months on end. I'm a townie and totally dependent on my urban amenities - trendy coffee shops, bookstores, exotic eateries, art galleries. I can hear Henry Thoreau tut-tutting from beyond the grave, but to no avail.

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    1. Me too. I like people too much, despite signs to the contrary.

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  5. Tom - I love Canada and those remote places. But I suspect that if I stayed there for long I would be desperate for company. For a start I wouldn't be able to meet my cronies a couple of times a week for coffee and a natter.

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    1. Unless your cronies moved out with you?

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  6. Living in the middle of nowhere is over-rated. Off the grid would be horrid. Like the tiny house movement, it would get old after a couple of days. I've always said, the people that live in the country are either people who are normal, but want the quiet life and those outcasts that couldn't live in a town or city or would immediately be arrested.

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  7. It's good to know that such remote areas still exist, and they are fine for a holiday. But I wouldn't want to live in the wilderness, miles from shops, cafés, and given the advancing years, be far from doctors and hospitals.
    I have a fairly busy social life too, so would miss the socialising.

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    1. Yes, there are many things I would miss too, but they are not the same as being imprisoned, with the missing that involves.

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  8. I live in a remote cottage and sit out the year in the company of her ladyship with food, drink and a peat fire - it is truly delightful !

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    1. For the first time since I have known you Heron, I am almost jealous.

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    1. But not cut-off, like the Fenland custom when docking new-born's fingers.

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  10. The thought of being away from everything is appealing but I am bit sure if after a while I might go a bit loopy. I could certainly enjoy it for some time.

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  11. Marijuahahahna (how do you even spell that?) is legal in Colorado. Who knows what these Boulder-ians are up to now.

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    1. Eating buckets of their own ice cream?

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  12. I have been to Canada once. If it wasn't so cold, I would move there.

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    1. It dropped to -40 (C.) when I was there. That's quite cold.

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  13. I live in Canada. Ontario, specifically. My husband and I have had this little conversation with each other and amongst friends about whether any one of us could be a "lighthouse keeper" meaning could any of us live in isolation for long periods of time and be satisfied with just our own company. I have said definitely not, but my husband thinks he would be fine. Canada is a lovely country in which to live, but is so huge and so diverse that it is difficult to describe in one succinct sentence. There are definitely remote wilderness areas, but, of course, there are big cities, nice small towns, little villages,... As to the cold, today it is -16 degrees Celsius (feels like -21 with the windchill). In typical Canadian fashion, I apologize for being boring. -Jenn

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    1. Jenn - don't get me wrong - I love Canada and could easily see myself living there, if I were not so young, energetic and ambitious beyond my original desire to be a fur trapper.

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  14. I didn't think that you did not like Canada. No offense was taken. I was just getting in on the conversation. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Fur trapper, huh?

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    1. Ok, I was joking about the trapper bit. You are most welcome here, Jenn.

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