Here comes the sun

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I don’t know about you, but I would like, for a short while at least, to forget about snow in April, coming elections (in fact anything to do with politics, politicians, or bureaucrats), the state of the world, and my declining health and increasing age. Let us, friends, for this week at least, focus on the positives, the aspects of life that make us happy, bring us joy and make each day an adventure (a peaceful, non-threatening adventure, of course). And what, you may ask, are those things? Ah, I reply, let’s investigate and see!

Looking through this and other issues of the Times, I am immediately struck, as I often am (but not as often as some would like me to be) by how much is happening in our locality. Students are being recognised for “kind, selfless and thoughtful actions”. The recent Rotary Science Fair at North Grenville District High School is another example of the high quality of young people we have, and the potential they show for the future of our country.

Other young people are joining with their elders to put on theatrical productions. In fact, the live drama scene in both North Grenville and Merrickville is not only alive, it is flourishing. Plays and musicals, of a very high quality, are a regular feature of the theatre world here. So much so, that it can be hard to attend everything that is happening: not really a bad situation for the audience member.

The importance of these events is not just that they provide an occasion to go out and have fun. They also display the amazing level of talent, energy and creativity that exists in our community. It seems to me that hardly a week goes by without something appearing in this paper celebrating another sporting achievement by young people, whether in hockey, baseball, athletics, or some other event.

The Neon Night Fun Run has brought all of this together in one wonderful event. Young and old alike join together to participate in a healthy and fun way to raise money for children suffering from cancer. As an article in this issue says: “The event has managed to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars for Childhood Cancer Research over the past four years”. Isn’t that phenomenal?

Justine Stroud, another young person, had the bright idea of giving one of her stuffed toy collection to anyone donating to Rideau Hill Camp. Brilliant initiative. Nancy Peckford writes this week about the growth in girls’ hockey, and the contribution young hockey players in the community are making to the Adam Harlow Fund. How can we not be optimistic when we see what’s happening?

But it’s not just the young people who should be celebrated: the activities of their parents and grandparents also add so much to the quality of life we enjoy. In addition to the overwhelmingly impressive contribution of our drama and musical theatre groups, the people of North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford are activists when it comes to our world, the environment, the elements of life that keep us healthy and alive. In just this issue, there is an article about the effect of gardens on climate change, much about the upcoming Sustainability Fair, an announcement on a seminar on tree health, an article on reducing the use of plastics in the community, and one welcoming the return of maple syrup making in the area.

The Rural Summit last weekend was a resounding success, with a larger than expected attendance, and the foundation laid for what we hope will be a permanent Rural Affairs focus in the Municipality. Congratulations to the organising committee, and most especially, to Councillor Jim Bertram, whose idea it was.

North Grenville is a wonderful community, with so many residents involved in so many ways, usually as volunteers. Our service clubs and organisations like Community Living or Kemptville and District Home Support, don’t just ask for money to continue their vital work, they give us something in exchange. Big Band Dances, Comedy Nights, Catch the Ace, and other events, are put on for our enjoyment and to support important work. There are almost too many BBQ’s, Fish Fries, and other gastronomic activities than are good for our diet! No-one is complaining: we know what’s good for us and for the work that goes on as a result.

So, there you are. If those people who like to carp and criticise that there’s too much negativity around would just look beyond the obvious (and the Editorial page), they would see a record of community activism, care, compassion, and fun. Yes, fun. It is an essential part of life, something that oils the gears when they start to stick and squeal (like so many politicians and journalists!). Sometimes we need to get off our high horses (or, in my case, a rather small pony) and stop taking ourselves and everything else too seriously.

As a professional historian, I am constantly struck (again, not as often as some would wish me to be) by how many people have played a role in the history of North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford over the past couple of centuries. They probably thought that they were really important too, but how many of them do we remember? Perspective: that’s what we need more than anything these days. We are playing a part, an important part at times, in a long story that is not over yet. We should play that part responsibly, to the best of our abilities, knowing all the time that we can agree, disagree, pout, sulk, cheer and celebrate as the case may be. A century from now, even a decade or a year from now, we may well be gone and forgotten. So, as Phil Ochs once wrote: “Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone; so I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here”. Amen to that.

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