Saints and Sinner Chapter Three In Tune
There had been some privacy at the old stone home across from the Hopes Mill on the Indian River, except in the summers from when schools out till the temperature dropped in September and chased the swimmers and partyers away. Still, nine months of quiet in this busy world is very wonderful. A plus to this unique century old home was the water across the road where a small lake flowed into a dam below which swimmers enjoyed the cool shallow waters of the Indian River. Along side the lake a seasonal camp ground was located operated by the local Conservation Authority. It too was void of people in the off season and provided a perfectly groomed space to walk with the dog Chico a German shepherd with a floppy ear and the two youngest children Cassidy and Jade who were small enough to want to be pulled in a wagon when their legs got weary. The owner of the Stone House property was a lovely woman named Kathy Gist who had been raised at the home and she was happy that a ‘handyman’ would be looking after it, though the only real change we made was to have the entire home interior painted white prior to moving in. We lived in the home twice, once just temporarily as we had sold our home below the town of Keene for a ridiculous sum of money and needed a short term rental while our new home in Peterborough had a later closing date, a mistake I won’t make twice in life, though, I must say, when you are young you are able to do much more physically than when you are older. Our new home was in Peterborough and it just didn’t work out very well, I can just say that we ran into some issues within the family and we decided that the city was not where we should live. Like now, good houses were easy to sell and I don’t think we lost much money other than lawyers fees and some to the realtors.
It turns out that professor Gists house was still available and that is where we would go every day and brighten it up with paint, to make if prettier, so to speak prior to moving in. The house was large with two entrances, one at the front that opened to the basement that was comprised of a long creaky wooden stairway that led to the main floor. If you stayed on the lower floor it opened off to the left where there was a large unheated space that we used for storage of boxes, off of the hallway to the right there was another smaller room with built in cupboards that were stocked with older kitchen things that just seemed to have been left there for ages, crocks and such, some of which we found useful in our everyday lives. At the front of that area there was a doorway that led to the one car garage and a small room that held the oil furnace. Behind the bigger room there was a large cistern I would guess it was six feet tall by ten feet by ten, you could store a lot of water in there., the first time we saw the house, the cistern was frozen solid. It took a few days to thaw once an electric heater had been turned on in the room by Hilliard the local handy man who also sorted out the Ultraviolet device to clean the water as well as the old water pump. I recall he had some problem once the water was turned on and running. The taps in the bathroom on the main floor would not flow. Hilliard was a genius with many years experience, I watched as he used a thin metal wire to get through the rust and eventually the taps began to work, replacing the rubber washers was a smart move as the taps shut off with no drips afterwards.
The other entrance was at the back of the house via a set of wide stairs that led to a big covered over porch that stretched the length of the building, you had to be careful on that porch as some of the boards required replacement. When you entered that set of doors you came into the main house living area, which led to a small galley kitchen that had a window that overlooked the water across the street. I’m not sure you would call this a centre hall plan house but I recall there was a set of stairs to take you to an upper floor that had a big and a small bedroom, Christine took the smaller bedroom, she had to walk through our room to get to hers, which wasn’t such a bad idea at the time. We could keep a better eye on her. Back on the main floor one entered another living room and at the back of it there were two more bedrooms that faced the water, these were rooms which Cassidy and Jade slept in. There was so much space and I must say we were used to lots of space as our house on the river in Keene had two living rooms as well.
That spring I recall being by the old well platform that had a hand pump and paying attention, more than usual surprisingly, I think the privacy was part of this, awakening, this awareness of being in nature, to a degree of this quiet we had not previously experienced. It really was wonderful, and that damp spring day I recall seeing little groupings of purple flowers called grape hyacinthes coming alive like people, in a way along the edge of the property near the well and I felt joy that I was with other species, sharing this wonderful earth. Towards the middle of the property that would comprise a half acre or so three old knotty trees grew they were fifty or so feet tall black locusts and I recall worrying as to whether they were alive or not as all the other trees in the area had shown their leaves. In time numerous other flowers erupted in the warmth of spring which I would point out to Julia who was busy with the young boy Cassidy and the wee daughter Jade who was less than a year old. This was an excellent hide out, not as good for fishing as the last place where our boat was parked on the waters edge, but here, we were offered other fishing opportunities, if one just wanted to throw a baited line into the pond across the way, or paddle a canoe upstream and fish for smallmouth bass in undisturbed splendor.
We never were alone a lot, there was always someone visiting from the city to share a drink with, The Count and Don Schmidt came for a night pouring whiskey down my throat, bouncing the kids on their knees. A pot grower/boogie woogie piano player named Ron Peters, I called him Doctor Science came and stayed a while, the reason we called him that is that he would get high on reefer on the back porch in the evenings and there would be fireflies flying about, Ron had some schooling he was an accredited teacher, he would talk about the scientific process that was happening in the firefly for the light to occur, we never really understood a word of his highbrow talking in that regard.
Family would drop by, Julia’s mother Joan came and stayed a while, she looked after the kids one time when Julia and I snuck out to BC to see what it was like out there, one word, expensive! I think the property reminded Joan of faraway England and her youth as she was happy to be there, to sit on a lawn chair, puffing away, near the cedar fence line watching cows graze who would come right up to greet her. There were the last visits from Quebec when aunt Yolande and uncle Gaspard came to console my mom Gisele when her son my brother Shane had died tragically on the long weekend in September of 1993. My sister Suzanne did not take it well and I was grieving and walking Chico in the campground when I was called I heard my voice being shouted and I had to get into Peterborough to calm her down, this ended up in Sue entering the psychiatric ward of the Peterborough hospital for a major tune up, that was so hard to see as at one point when she was quite upset they had to use those bed restraint ties on her and put her in a safe room. Then Barb and Tim came out and that hit home, that Shane was gone and I recall being a bit careless on the riding mower and tipping it on the embankment of the septic area and quite possibly ran the risk of having my appendages cut off! The rent was cheap, I don’t think it was much more than $500 a month and we never paid for the first four or five months as that was applied to painting the place and the cost of paint labour involved. When the landlady eventually did ask for some rent money we were more than pleased to give her some. In the winter the two foot thick stone home was frigid and this could have been avoided if we were allowed to use the chimney to burn wood as I would have had an air tight stove installed, but, alas, Kathy did not want this claiming ‘the Insurers won’t allow a wood burning appliance’ and that was that, we cuddled up at night to stay warm and kept an electric heater on in the cistern room where the trucked in water was stored so it would not freeze, Ray the water truck driver was happy to accept a snort of Old Jack’s whiskey when making deliveries that were about every month and a half, so strange actually as the water was just across the road and for the price of a gas pump and a 100 foot coil of black one inch poly tubing we could have filled that cistern brim full of water in an hour or so. The well was weak and could not provide for the needs of the house. I had a discussion with the landlady about her Riparian rights when I saw a good spring in the ground near the fallen barn which I thought could be diverted to the house and cut down on the expense of bringing water in to fill the cistern. She would hear nothing of it, I think she felt the land had done OK on its own for a few hundred years why change things now. We might of lived there forever but having had this taste of quiet got me searching for something that was even more beautiful, though, I must say, there is a timelessness to this part of Ontario near Lang and Hopes Mill, a feeling about this part of the world that speaks to me today.
Twenty five years have passed since some phenomenon took place in my life. Phenomenon that could be described as modern day miracles to some, yet to others, perhaps the work of a person or persons with abilities. I believe that these events being written out may take me and the reader to some understanding of their root. Then again, they may just disappear as they came from nowhere in the beginning. These occurrences did take place during a special time in our lives in which we were granted a spacious remote property to be with at a time when our personal studies of New Age dynamics were at a peak. Our fifty acre retreat was located near a place called Nogies Creek, a stream that flows from north to south, emptying into Buckhorn Lake a few miles east of the town of Bobcaygeon. We moved there in late summer of the year 1994. Julia and I had been looking for a quiet place to be for quite some time. We had even travelled to British Columbia with the idea of relocating, however we found the prices on homes out there to be two and three times what prices were in Ontario at that time. Retreat properties like this one seldom come on the market. We discovered it by looking through thick black and white real estate books provided by our realtor and friend Mighty Fallen. It was against realty law that these books were given to clients as they were supposed to be the sole possession of the realtor, but what the heck, we broke much more severe laws back then. The degree of privacy this homestead would provide was considerably more than any we had experienced before hand
We wanted more than that and I recall Julie and I spending days and days looking at properties spread throughout the area surrounding Peterborough which had become our home zone. We went to visit this fifty acre property off a side road off a side road and were quickly smitten with it. To reach the land you drove north on Bass Lake Road about a mile then a sharp right on Tully Road past the hillbilly place, past the small cottages dotting the slow moving Nogies Creek, around a corner, past what looked to be an abandoned farm and there was a long driveway on the right hand side that sloped up to sights unknown as there was a curve in the road part way up. On our first trip we placed some tobacco on the road and said a prayer, a ways up from that spot we saw a snake on the road and this did not sit well with me. Once on top of the driveway the home itself was another fifty yards to the left with a double car two storey barn across from it and inland a bit more. The home was architecturally designed and had a pleasing look, the siding was lapstrake wood, there was a porch low to the ground off the main entrance, to the left of the home there was an inground pool at a lower level with a walk in to the basement of the house. I must say the property had eye appeal, but it also needed much cleaning up and wood staining. We weren’t afraid of work though and with my intermittent schedule there would be lots of time to do the required maintenance. For heat the property had a modern wood and electric stove in the basement with a door to that area and stairs to throw firewood down. Some of the rooms had electric heat, but we seldom relied on that. The main floor had a big stone fireplace that we would start up when we wanted some ambience but our main source of heat was the wood portion of the dual function furnace.
We never knew a soul in the area, and it didn’t matter one bit, whoever was meant to be in our lives would come visit. There was a contentment to being on this property that is different from any other contentment we have had. It’s difficult to explain, but maybe a better word is that we were happy there and the fact we were experiencing an epiphany of sorts in our way of looking at the world was beneficial along with this sacred location. At the back of the house there was a screened in sun porch, a good size room. The fields behind the house weren’t that big, maybe twenty acres that stretched to a forest of thousands of acres of crown land. Just as you got into the forest there was a pond and at night while sitting on the back porch the sounds of the frogs and such croaking to each other was all you needed to hear, it was wonderful and scary at the same time. For entertainment we would pile young Cassidy and Jade into the Jeep and ride down to the forest where we had discovered a road wide enough for the vehicle to pass through the trees that encircled the pond, we’d shout out, “there’s a dinosaur” and the kids would scream in excitement. Many days we would walk deep into the forest, one day Cassidy said, “I’m going home” we were a good bit into the forest, yet he walked all the way home accompanied by our dog Chico a german shepherd. Jade and I continued on the lookout for lost civilizations.
Life was good, maybe to good as we lost ourselves in the new property. Neither Julie or I can recall when or why we took the vow of No News for a Year. This meant that we would not listen to or watch any news whatsoever. As a result I would say we became less negative and more aware of our surroundings. For example as I was cutting out trails for the meditation paths around the perimeter of the land I was astutely aware of the natural world, of the homes of species I would be disrupting by moving a rotting piece of log or a boulder. Newspaper reading was also included in our news ban. It was the year of the Oklahoma bombings and we never knew what took place and in retrospect there was no need for us to know as there was nothing we could do about it. Some of this thinking must have come by Osmosis by reading uplifting New Age literature and I suppose that popular book at the time The Celestine Prophecies. The book Autobiography of a Yogi was quite instrumental in setting us on a new course. I recall reading aloud to Julia in this quiet den we had in the house and one time I was quite surprised to have told her something that I read verbatim five minutes later in the book I had in my hand. That is called Being In Tune. It is a bit unnerving to think that you are developing in a spiritual manner without the aid of an actual organization, but the way we look at it is that we were on our own spiritual quest through study. We were very conscious of the natural world around us and this new location had awoken in us an understanding that we had not known before.
Besides the reading we did other things to please the Gods. There was a field between the house and the barn that was grown over with wild flowers, mostly orange ones but some yellow ones as well. Using an old beat up gas lawnmower I cut an OM symbol approximately twenty feet long by twenty feet wide into the wild flowers for anyone above to see. On our satellite dish we painted an OM symbol as well which would get my brother Kevin chuckling when he would come visit on weekends from his housing arrangement with the Queen, and later too when he was released to a half way house in Orillia and then his own apartment. At days end we were almost exhausted from looking after the property. We had a sign made to go at the front of the house at the roadside, it read Dreamfields Winged Spirits Retreat, we incorporated an OM into the sign and there was also an enlarged photograph of a colourful Flying Frog. All of this was set into a fancily sconced frame. Who knew what the neighbours would have thought, we did not worry about that, as there were no neighbours. Some might have thought ‘weirdos’ live up there.
Before you knew it winter had arrived and it was a cold one with lots of snow. We had a snow blower and on bad storms we called a truck in to plow the long driveway, we were the last on his list of customers so some days we were snowed in till past mid day. I don’t think we minded very much. We bought a nice snowmobile to tour around the acreage, nothing fancy a $500 machine in mint condition that Christine was enjoying until one night when she crashed, thank goodness she was OK, though the machine was no longer mint, it suffered some damage and I sold it off to avoid any future crashes and I suppose to send a message to the young lady who was acting much older than her 14 and a half years. She was quick to find a ‘fast crowd’ little did they know that she would be very fast herself as some issues arose at the Fenelon Falls High School. I don’t know that I had ever considered that some of my own traits would have ended up in her genes. We kept a good eye on things and dealt with matters best we could as they presented themselves.
That winter we burned almost eight full cords of firewood. It was a three time a day job going into the basement and filling the furnace, emptying the ashes that had to be stored in steel pails before being disposed of. Though the furnace was ultra modern it did seem to burn a lot of wood and I thought it was not as efficient as an airtight wood stove might have been. In the wee hours on a very cold night the electric heat would kick in to get us through until the morning stoking, one great thing to say about wood heat is that it will keep you fit. There were some trees on the edges of the property that we had cut up in the fall. We had an old riding mower that we would hook an equally old flatbed skidoo trailer to then haul the wood to the back of the house or inside the big barn like garage. You could never own enough wood to burn. Most of the trees I took down were those that had seen better days and were starting to rot. I never cut trees down that were too big to handle. Though there were acres and acres of trees in back of us on the crown land I did not have the correct equipment nor energies to move the logs from that rugged terrain to the house itself. One family who lived a few lines over delivered and hand tossed eight cords of wood on two separate nights using their 4X4 pick up truck with a trailer, we were busy for a few days stacking it up, there is a photo somewhere of the young kids standing on top of the pile. When the pool froze we let the kids skate on the frozen ice, at three and four years of age they were not very heavy. Prior to the snows we had rode our bikes with child attachments a few nights of the week all the way down to the highway and up to some side roads that wandered around, by seasons end we had found our legs and were able to ride the bikes all the way up the driveway which we thought was quite a feat. Either everyone was in their cars or there weren’t many bike riders as I don’t recall seeing anyone else riding bikes.
To break in the property we had a small New Years party which some friends attended. Julia made a big lasagna, Pete came with Toom his new wife who had come here from Thailand, Gary Kendall and his wife Shirley Gillis came from the city, the Woolseys Bob and Jude were still together they came in from Peterborough, Mighty came with a new friend. That night wee Jade screamed at the top of her lungs for the longest time until someone went up with a freezie for her. A bunch of us ended up in the living room watching of all things Jurassic Park with the volume exceedingly loud. The next morning, the couples headed out and we knew it would not be till spring that we would see anyone being as it were in this remote location.
#Saints #Sinner #Chapter #ThreeIn #Tune
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