In 2001 my husband and I left Toronto to move to a small island.
Do you know the 1000 islands? We lived on the island before the first 1000th.
We wanted less pressure around us, so we went from several million people to a place populated with about 450 people: if they were all at home.
We really wanted to know we were making the decision, so before we put an offer in, I looked for a sign.
I walked to the beach. I visited with people there to see who my neighbors would be.
One day, I walked in the woods, and I asked the divine power that runs the universe for a sign.
And at the very moment of beseechment, a chickadee landed on my hand.
So, I went home, we sold our house and moved to the island.
Months later, I told my husband of my encounter, and he confided that he too had the same experience. Now we were convinced we had made the right decision.
When we told the locals this, they couldn’t stop laughing, “Chickadees land on everybody’s hand. They’re hired by the real estate agents.”
Granted it was beautiful. but often city people had the wrong idea about country living.
They said things like, “Well, you must be so peaceful on that island.” Like, we were always in a continual state of bliss.
I’d reply that “It depends on the day.”
Because you bring your mind with you wherever you go. You can become as disturbed in the middle of the country as you can in a big city.
Living in the country doesn’t mean you are just sitting on the porch pondering life with a piece of grass in my mouth. We were renovating and helping out my kids adjusting to small-town life.
Neighbors were insinuating themselves into our lives. Some people gossiped. And then there were the fishermen. I don’t mean that they were fishing for fish – although some of them might do that too. I mean, people were fishing for information.
A fisherman modus operandus looks like this:
They’d lay out a lie, and then you’d have to deny it. They would come up and lean in and talk out of the side of their mouth.
“I hear you’re having another baby.”
“No, I’m not pregnant. My husband had a vasectomy.”
The fishermen knew I was not pregnant. But now they had another piece of information about my man’s junk.
The nosy people were annoying, and so was the noise coming from nature.
There was a bird that cawed outside my bedroom window for months. Waking me up every morning, squawking. This was not some pretty bird, with a melliferous warbler.
A big ol’ grackle that began to squawk, caw, and bitch every morning. Not even a rusty room fan and two Ativan could not block out the noise.
So while enjoying nature you have to deal with stress from somewhere.
And my husband dealt with his stress differently than I did.
While he joined the Presbyterian church- I believe for five kinds of pie they served in the fellowship room. The minister held up the Eucharist and accidentally said, “Body of Crust”.
While they, I walked the church of the south shore. Walking was what I had begun early in my recovery from alcoholism. I walked in the graveyard where I met Danny, I walked off my anger, happiness and lust. Something about putting one foot in front of the elevated my mood. Scientists say a daily walk changed the chemistry of your brain. And walking the rugged beach of Lake Ontario, with an only nuclear power plant from New York State, flashing as some sort of warning from the United States, the secret spot became the place I took refuge.
I took my pen and paper and I wrote down ideas for a TV shows I was cooking up. I wrote two one-woman shows and some days all I did was write out all my hatred big and small. I’d then lit a match and burnt it- a flaming bile pyre so no one would ever read what I was thinking ( and so I could never be convicted if I should commit a crime.) All the Presbyterian Church was offering was limp handshakes and carbs.
The secret spot was a great rain barrel for my pain and pleasure.
A spot, by the way, that everybody on the island knew.
I found this out when my daughter had an asthma attack. I was sitting writing on my secret rock when a car came screeching around the corner and a volunteer fireman ran down the beach hollering that I needed to get to the school.
When I asked how they knew of my secret spot, the man said, “We all know where your secret spot is.”
Oh, honey, if I had a nickel for every time a man said that well..
Final Note: I make my living by writing and telling stories. This is an excerpt from the book I have been writing, for two years, called Windowshopping For God: Its about surviving abuse, addiction, and finding a deep sense of self by walking and writing.
If you would like to help me stay self-supporting that would be lovely. Thank you!!! CLICK HERE