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Struggling In the Rain, down Memory Lane

Voice of the Kingfisher speaks out  …from a different perspective

                                                          by Elinor Montgomery

Struggling In the Rain, down Memory Lane

August 08, 2011

I traveled to Orillia this past week-end with my friend, Ann, to attend a family reunion, but it proved to be much more than that; it became a journey in the rain, down memory lane.

The family reunion consisted of four generations of cousins, which grow ever larger, now, numbering somewhere in the fifties to sixties, plus. As I interacted with the different generations, it saddened me greatly to see how much the values of these young people differed from my own. They knew very little about what our lives had been like at their age, and cared even less. They had become a “me” generation, and as long as we were able to talk about “me”, we were able to have a conversation.

The sadness was that there was no real communication between us on any level, other than on a superficial one. I came to realize that the problem begins with the dramatic change in technology and the effect it has on every level of the young people’s lives.

To my astonishment, a child of six had driven across two roads, crossing through a wooded patch that divided them, on a motorized, four-wheel scooter, traveling alone from parents’ house to grandparents’ house. He came rushing down the driveway to announce his arrival with a loud toot of his horn so that none could miss him. He then drove the vehicle around to the waterfront-side of the house, where it seemed that there was no one present to keep an eye on him, as he faced a beckoning lake, on a very hot day.

I thought about this little boy’s life at the young age of six, and how he had managed to escape death at every turn, whether or not it was abortion, the first attack of Satan on unborn infants, traffic accidents, or drowning. I later discovered he was living in a house that had, not just every possible amenity available, but it had two side-by-side kitchens, mammoth-sized TV’s in most rooms, with what appeared to be a bathroom for each member of the family. Oddly enough, I never heard the child utter a word to anyone, throughout the day.

I wondered if we have completely dulled the abilities of our children to communicate on a one-to-one, personal level, with the advancement of mass communication through the development of ever-increasing technology. Have we reached the point where children can only communicate by using one form of technology or another, whether or not it’s a computer or a cell phone? Are they not also the victims of a rapidly-changing society with its ever-increasing getting and spending?

My friend had spent the day with her family in Barrie, and we both felt a sense of relief when we once again were in the car and ready for the next leg of our journey. We stopped for the night at a motel on the water at Jackson’s Point, one, which we had booked in advance, only to discover we were staying in a place of total decay. The ceiling was crumbling, the beds had sheets, which were cut to cover only part of the mattresses, having no overhang, whatsoever, with the lights flickering on and off over our beds.

The advertising for this motel had been most deceptive, and to our surprise, when we saw it in the morning, the grass was not cut, the weeds were so large they grew out of the shrubbery, and quantities of chipped paint and even pieces of the wood trim lay on the ground outside our room. The decay, which was hidden behind the motel’s somewhat sleek entranceway, seemed to speak of the political situation and the society in which we live. Is there not a false front to it all, behind which lurks the real thing, covered up by the lies of hypocrisy?

 We set out under cloudy skies the next morning to tour the lake country and journey down memory lane to see lakes and places I had visited as a youth, some 65 years ago, only to complete our journey at the Crow River, the location of the family cottage of my childhood. It had been between fifty and sixty years since I had visited there as well.

We arrived first at Port Perry, and then toured the island in the middle of Scugog Lake. We traveled on from there in search of Gore’s Landing on Rice Lake. I had seen artists’ prints of the landing, done in the early 1800’s, remembering it to be quite a scenic location. When we finally arrived, after getting ourselves lost a few times, it proved to be worth the effort when we gazed over a vista of islands in the lake, as far as the eye could see from the height of the road.

We had the pleasure of discovering a gem of a little store in the middle of nowhere, while searching out directions. There were rooms full of tastefully-chosen gifts, which led to a back room with a counter of cheeses and freshly baked confectionaries. Special tasters had been set out that were a delight to our palates and satisfying to our hunger. But she was the owner, a fairly mature, older woman, with whom I had an interesting conversation.

I shared with her that I, too, had owned a store and that I was in awe of how much she was doing, by managing her store while, at the same time, catering to weddings and other events on a grand scale. Of course, she loved what she was doing and that was why she did it. She queried me as to what I did with my time now that I am free, more or less asking me whether or not there is really life after leaving the business world or is there nothing more than death. I shared with her some details of the spiritual journey I am on and how it came about, as she listened with rapt attention, seemingly not doubting that God could play a major role in our lives, and that yes, indeed, there is life after death.

Putting this enjoyable experience behind us, we proceeded on to Roseneath, the little village in which I remembered there was a general store, with a farm near the cottage on the lake belonging to a friend, for which we were searching. Armed with this sketchy information, we stopped at what proved to be the same general store, where I made inquiries of a rather elderly gentleman. He responded with the surnames of all of my friend’s cousins, and I knew instantly that we had made the right connection.

This elderly man informed me that, indeed, his father had sold the piece of property to my friend’s father or grandfather and to her great uncle. He then regaled me with twenty minutes of memories and pictures, so that at our parting, Ann and I were headed directly for the cottage for which we were searching.

These families of cousins still all cottage at Rice Lake during the summer months. They now have several cottages, through which we sorted our way, meeting people whose names I had heard and known for years, to finally arrive at the cottage of my friend, whose son, Lee, was staying with her. He was home for the summer, after having been teaching English at a university in South Korea for over a period of four or five years. We had a delightful couple of hours reminiscing and learning much about the situation in Korea and how it related to the world situation.

This was a time of real communication and a pure joy to talk with a younger generation, yet not young enough to be damaged by all the super technology to which that little boy of six had been exposed. My friend’s son, Lee, had also been raised by godly parents, the father of whom had been a medical doctor who had given up his practice and home to live and minister among the poor in the Riverdale area of Toronto. This young man represented to me all that is good in the youth of today, and Ann and I felt so much richer for the time we had spent with him and his mother.

However, our journey did not end there. We yet had ‘the Crow’ ahead of us after traveling on to Campbellford and stopping there long enough to see Healey Falls where my father and brothers had fished many years ago. The falls proved to surpass my expectations as we viewed the force of the water, which tumbled over layers of rock ledges, now fed by a very large dam, which controlled the flow of the fast-moving water.

After traveling over many, precipitous and dangerous roads, muddied by the off-and-on rain, we finally began the last leg of our journey along what had been an isolated dirt road just miles from ‘the Crow’, only to discover it was now paved with lovely homes along the route. We arrived at the bend in the road, which I knew would lead to the old white bridge built in the 1800’s, which crossed over to Allen’s Mills, to see that it was now gone and replaced by a modern, cement bridge. To my dismay, the mill had disappeared as well – that wonderful place where I had spent hours jumping in the sawdust, searching for turtles’ eggs and little turtles to race against each other.

We came back over the bridge, to discover there was a new entranceway to our old cottage, which had been turned into a very pretty summer house. We parked and walked over to the neighboring cottages, owned years ago by a family named Boise, who kept them as rentals. I remembered the matriarch, a no-nonsense, older woman who managed these fishing camps along with her two boys, whom I remembered very well as being friends of my older brothers.

A man stood barbequing in front of one of the cottages, so we approached him and asked for information as to who owned them now and if he had any idea as to what had become of the original owners. To my delight, this man proved to be the son of the oldest Boise boy and friend of my brother’s. Not only the rentals, but also the two cottages my parents had owned, now all belonged to the Boise family. Six generations of this family had become a part of the Crow life, where it appeared to continue on, much as it had in the past.

It somehow did my heart good to see that the old days were still very much alive and well in spite of all the technical changes that had taken place, and here, in the midst of change I could catch a glimpse of the past. They were still the same old, weathered cottages out of which poured more Boises who were as welcoming to us as I was pleased to meet them. Not only did they want us to partake of their barbequed dinner, but they also wanted me to stay in touch with them. It appeared that one of them was writing a history of ‘the Crow’.

I had one last look at the fossils in the rock formations, which, as kids, we always knew belonged to the dinosaur age, and were sure if we searched hard enough we would find a fossilized dinosaur. They indicated that authorities actually had established that these fossils were, indeed, from the dinosaur age, which had existed millions of years ago.

Surely, God had led me to this place yesterday where time had not separated the generations, and where even the fossils demonstrated the continuity of God’s families through the ages, which would continue in His family throughout eternity. Somehow, this little welcoming group seemed much closer to me than the cousins who had so many of the amenities of life and, yet, seemed to have nothing if they could not communicate with their fellow-man, except on a superficial level.

As I knelt to pray at the end of the day, I thanked God for this time and journey down memory lane in the rain with a friend who had none of my connections, but seemed to enjoy it all as much as I. She too had experienced the superficial conversation that can exist in the midst of families only to be treated to the real thing that exists when the material and changing world of time puts no barriers between us.

It had been a wonderful journey of discovery, which only magnified the goodness of a good God who has always wanted to lavish His blessings upon humans, who generally want the blessings, but not Him. Is He not looking for a family from humanity, which has nothing to do with bloodline but rather has everything to do with a love for Him and all His goodness directed toward us?

At the end of the day, I had seen love and kindness in the eyes of so many we had encountered along the way. This was the old America I had known and loved. Would that little boy on the scooter ever know what it really had been like, as he races from one piece of technology to the next, dulling his life and ability to love and interact with his fellow-man?

I thank you, God, for those many lazy, hazy days of summer, which I spent at ‘the Crow’ in wonderment of the things around me, with dreams of a future yet to come. Never did I, in my wildest imaginings, ever envision the wonderful things You had in store for me and for all of those who love You and Your eternal plan for us.