“An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.” – Walter Bagehot
True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more www.albertevilleneuve.ca.
City living was not for me. I’m a country girl and will always be! I lived in Ottawa’s Vanier area for three years when I was first married and I was miserable. We lived in a basement apartment not very far from Montfort hospital. I never got used to ambulance sirens, firetrucks, police cars and the late night traffic on Montreal Road, especially in the summertime when the windows were open. I couldn’t see the sunsets, only parked cars or people’s legs. So, when my first husband and I built our house in Carlsbad Springs’ countryside, I was like a bird whose cage door had swung open. I planted a garden, flowers, lilacs and two beautiful maple trees. I hung a birdfeeder in the backyard and befriended the chickadees. Groundhogs were a pest but that was part of living in the country. Right?
Years later, Brian (my second husband) and I built our dream home “The Blue Shack” in the countryside, a few kilometers east of Carlsbad. We enjoyed the peace and quiet, the long walks holding hands, gardening together, summer meals and reading on the porch, watching the sun set from the living-room window or the veranda. It was the perfect place to de-stress, to recharge your batteries!
But these past few years, my life has become too busy. I rarely read on the porch anymore ... in fact I have a problem finding time to read an entire book. I often miss sunsets. I go to bed exhausted, thinking I should have had an afternoon nap ... When I wrote, “ I need a vacation” on my Facebook page, Kathy wrote back, “Take one, then!”
||Stéphanie enjoys and shares Daoust Lake, as it should be.
She was right! I used to treat myself to relaxing vacation weekends during the summer. Then my life just became too busy ... So when my friend Liselle offered her cottage (more like a country home) for a weekend, I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to relax by the lake and enjoy some time away from home where I tend to work ... and work.
Her cottage is situated close to Lac Simon in the Petite-Nation and La Lièvre region. Jacques and I arrived Friday afternoon, settled in and started preparing the evening meal. We decided to dine outdoors on the veranda but all through the meal, ATVs went racing by. VROOMMM!! VROOMMM!! Then there were motorcycles, speeding sports cars and the “souped-up” trucks. This went on all evening.
The next morning, as we enjoyed breakfast on the veranda, it all started over again. It was like being close to a racetrack! We questioned whether it was legal to drive ATVs on the road. Apparently it is in that area! Later on, we decided to take a drive and follow the tour du lac. The public beach was already crowded and all kinds of motorboats, speedboats and assorted water crafts were either docked or on the water. I thought, “So much for the high price of gas and the pollution! No one here seems to care.”
We made a short stop in Duhamel then drove back on the other side of the lake, ending up in Chénéville where we made reservations for dinner at the Parissi Restaurant. The weather was gorgeous but something was wrong with the picture! Why was everyone racing?
At the restaurant, we were offered a table by the front window. All of a sudden, I saw my neighbours. Rick, Sylvie and their two daughters walked by and entered the restaurant. What a coincidence! Or was it the way it was meant to be?
Before she left for her vacation, Sylvie had said, “You must come and visit us at the cottage some day.” I had no idea where their cottage was situated!
After a lovely meal, Rick and Sylvie extended the invitation once more and Sylvie wrote down the directions. Their cottage is situated on a smaller lake near Viceroy Lake. What a difference!!
In a wooded area surrounding the lake, Sylvie and Rick have built a gorgeous cottage on a big lot that affords them privacy. There are no motorboats on that lake. The family enjoys kayaking and swimming in pristine water. The cathedral-style windows of the cottage offer a unique lakeside view.
To quote Lao Tzu once more, “Silence is a source of great strength.” Sylvie confirmed it when she said she completely decompresses and re-energizes at the cottage. No crazy schedules, no traffic, no noise ... just peace and quiet! This is what the mind and the body crave. This is how you recharge your batteries. There was no doubt in our minds this was a win-win situation. We went back to Lac Simon where motorcycles, sport cars and trucks were still zooming by. And if that wasn’t enough, music was blaring somewhere in the background and fireworks cracked, fizzled and boomed in the summer night.
Needless to say sleep did not come easy! I pondered the situation. Have we become so addicted to artificial pleasures that we pollute our lives with booze, noise and speed everywhere we go? Life is nothing but an artificial contraption then!
The next day we went out to breakfast at the Café & Bistro Chéné in Chénéville. It was a pleasant experience. We had planned to go to the beach afterwards but when we checked it out it looked and sounded like a noisy colony of seagulls. Yes, I admit it was a long weekend for Ontarians and summer holidays for construction workers. Yes, many of them have cottages there or go to the campgrounds in the area. But what was most distressing again was the noise level. Music was coming from two distinct places, through loud speakers, and the two were clashing. We decided to forego the beach scene.
Annie Dillard is quoted as saying, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Is this the frequency at which we want to resonate? Not me! Count me out! Once home, I went to the garden and picked a huge basket of green beans. Yes, it was work but, the yellow finches coasted along and dipped around the garden, singing their cheerful song. The heat bugs rubbed their wings in sheer delight while the cardinals whistled high up in a tree. In the evening, I listened to the crickets chirp. Was it better than the sound of ATVs, motorcycles, sport cars and “souped-up” trucks? You bet!!!
Chief Commanda of Kitigan-Zibi died this week. A long-standing advocate of preserving nature, he was appalled by humans’ reckless disrespect of nature. To tell you the truth, I am worried too.