Wednesday, April 6, 2016

You were supposed to grow old. Reckless, unfrightened and old.

Apart from the obvious, I’ve noticed two main differences about living in the country verses living in town. The first is that your neighbours are not just the people who happened to live in the house beside you. They’re the ones who will clear the snow out of your half mile driveway, help you fix your roof, or lend you a truck or tractor or lawnmower. They’re people who are out at 1:00 am after an ice storm clearing broken branches off of roads and driveways. Or filling up jugs of water for you when the power goes out. Your neighbours are not just your neighbours. They become more like family.

The second big difference is that life in the country comes with a lot more difficulty and potential danger. There are animals with tempers, field vehicles, old and unstable out buildings with bad wiring, huge rotting trees threatening your house or barn or garage, and very powerful farming machinery just waiting for a loose sleeve to grab onto. As a kid growing up in the country I was taught to be aware of these situations. It became my biggest fear to come home and find that some terribly devastating accident had taken place... And it happened. It happened about three weeks ago when my mom and I came home to find our neighbour’s barn reduced to rubble and engulfed in flames, and later learned that that fire had claimed the life of our friend and neighbour, Ken.

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to understand the situation. It took several days before any of it felt real. There were detectives at my house, there have been countless phone calls, and rumours, and people stopping by the house. We spent the first 24 hours making up scenarios in which Ken wasn’t home because we didn’t want to accept the devastating possibility that soon became our reality. Then several more days I spent just sorting out the remorse and frustration that has shadowed our little hamlet and Ken's family. I've gotten maybe 3 or 4 good nights of sleep since the fire. This is not just a sad accident that happened to somebody I kind of know. Death is confusing and difficult to comprehend. But when it happens in a small community out in the country, we all mourn. We all grieve.

So I shot this in memory of a friend and neighbour whose life was ended far too soon. I created the shell of a house where his memory can safely stay - in the gap of the fence between our property and his where the rails had to be taken down so that when Ken accidentally took a rather large piece of machinery swimming in his pond we could get an even larger piece of machinery over to his place to pull it back out. In the words of my Aunt Kate, every day an adventure, and every adventure worth the grand telling.

No comments:

Post a Comment