Today is about projecting outwardly. It began coincidentally with an obituary. I was drifting through my Facebook account when I encountered an obituary which I had not yet seen in our local electronic newspaper The Millstone. It was the obituary of a woman who marks one of my first acquaintances in Almonte when I arrived in 1976. She was the principal legal assistant to my employer Michael J. Galligan, QC. Her husband (with whom I later associated when I was a director of Mississippi River Power Corporation) was an employee of The Town of Mississippi Mills.
As we prepare for our southern venture over the border, I have curiously revitalized my immediate interest in the Town of Almonte and its constituents. The preoccupation has been percolating for the past several days. I am not so suspicious to imagine there is impending disaster for which to prepare psychologically by recalling all the good things in life. I just like to take stock now and again, especially at a moment such as this when I am in that placid middle world between purpose and progress.
While there is no question we’re all dying off, what hasn’t changed is the overall picture of Almonte since I arrived almost a half century ago. In spite of my retirement and semi-annual seclusion I have retained a palpable familiarity with the Town through my regular bicycle rides within the neighbourhood and along the Ottawa Valley Trail. Only this morning for example we stopped to chat with a fellow and his grandson who together with the chap’s father (whom I also knew) constitute three generations of the male line in that family. Our ensuing conversation united yet further distinguishing features of Almonte as the fellow related his latest intelligence regarding a woman who is a leader of the maple syrup industry in Ontario. She is moving from Almonte back to her family roots in nearby Township of Pakenham where her father was the owner of vast properties. She was one of my first clients after I opened my solo practice in 1978.
With the closure during COVID of popular meeting houses the erstwhile railway right-of-way has become a reliable place for social convention. I freely admit that it is with a measure of gusto that I approach an outing along the trail. My native nosiness inspires me to pursue whatever chatter I can gather to feed what I now recognize is a physical and mental imperative. The mere thought of retail without social interaction is meaningless! As a result the abiding interest in anyone doing anything has been accelerated exponentially. At least when we’re out-of-doors and walking or cycling, no one is wearing a mask. Occasional foregathering in these circumstances contributes an air of normalcy to what has otherwise been disruptive, sometimes unwittingly so.
To complete the narrative I began – and to enlarge upon its undercurrent of fraternity – the obituary about which I spoke was brought to my attention this morning on Facebook by a highly qualified legal assistant who has worked with two of the most prominent lawyers in nearby Carleton Place over the past 50 years. I have had so many business communications with this woman that we two have long ago lapsed into the vernacular. I suspect too that our idle reverberations are by now so predictable that we could tell our jokes by number!