Sunday, November 25, 2012


I'm having a little holiday; taking some time off work to visit my daughter and three other friends in and near our little capital of the tundra.  I always take the backroads.    I can't bear major highways.  That much adrenaline for that long is not good for me!  And so, I have become adept at finding the back way to...well, anywhere.  There are two things I value when planning my route, and these are directness (the shortest distance between two points) and lack of obstacles; traffic and traffic lights.

Today I decided to take the Richmond Road, since I have never to my knowledge been TO Richmond, though perhaps I've gone through it.  I took the county road to Perth via Westport, and from there the former military road (practically dead straight-- so straight that the Romans might  have laid it out, had they been around in 1815) to Franktown and from there to Richmond.  After that I took old concession roads and sideroads to the western fringes of Ottawa to meet my daughter at her college.

As I drove through the early morning mist, admiring the lakes on either side of the road, like mirror with the breath of God rising from them, I reflected (ha!) on the fact that the car is no way to see a country, at least not if you are interested in photographing it.  Countless gorgeous photos appeared to my eye: muzzy purple, blue and gold landscapes seen through a screen of ruby topped sumac; chestnut cows in the mist amongst split rail fences in the rough country on the way to Perth, frost spangled stands of reeds, brilliantly backlit.  But not one of these made it to a photograph.  Why?  Because in a car, one is on the way to somewhere.  Stopping is counterproductive, and besides, no sooner does the perfect vista appear than one is by it, and going back is not a thing I do lightly.

Even the sometimes endless fields around Ottawa, laid out in the bed of a prehistoric sea, looked fantastic today.  The faded corn stalks were brilliant gold in the sun, and the frosted furrows with their quiet tones of mouse and fawn were soothing.  How different in winter!  Then the wind blows fiercely across the open ground and everything is white and grey and bitterly cold.

I did force myself to stop and take some pictures of the old Anglican church in Franktown with its drive sheds still in place.  I had to check the map anyway, so a stop was warranted.

 What must those first settlers have thought of the place they'd come to; flat limestone plain just below the surface, covered with impenetrable cedar thickets?  And yet, one of the first things they did was to build a church!  They must have needed faith to start over in such a demanding land, and they must have needed the community they created by undertaking such a venture just as much as a heavenly hand.

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