As I write this it is June 23 and thirteen years ago today, June 23rd, 2006, I took my first edition of the Wayback Times, issue 65, recently acquired from Jay Telfer (the founder), into Belleville to be printed from a disk. It was the same kind of day as today – beautiful, warm, sunny… but pretty stressful for a first-time editor/publisher. This is my 14th June of facing the summer deadline and many, many things have changed for me, for the WT, for our readers and for our advertisers. But something that hasn’t changed is how beautiful June 23 always seems to be, and today is no exception. I am looking out my office window at a clear blue sky, I can hear chickadees, robins, cardinals, orioles, the house wren and song sparrows (and more) all vying for “best vocal performance outdoors” and I’m hard-pressed to choose a favourite. I love them all, which is why I spend a small fortune feeding them, and inadvertently, the squirrels, cowbirds, blackbirds and other critters who take a little – okay, a lot – more than their share. I don’t listen to radio often anymore, but when I do my favourite station is CFMZ, Classical 103.1 FM, a station I have listened to since the ‘80s. This morning, when I happened to be listening, they played a John Rutter piece called “For the Beauty of the Earth” that made me stop and listen. Rutter’s music is sheer joy at any given time, but in these days of doom and gloom, of disappointment and discouragement with the world and all its depressing affairs, this particular piece of music, this song of rejoicing made me realize that I am so overwhelmed with all the things that are wrong (or perceived to be) that I am often forgetting to appreciate and enjoy all that is right! Here are the lyrics – simple, but profound. A hymn for a summer day, but words to remember in our hearts, even on the days that aren’t so lovely.
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.
For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise...
I have a tendency to worry about a lot of things I can’t change – well, not by myself, anyway – but recently I have been really impressed with some of the amazing things people are doing to try to bring about change; change for the better, change in the way we think and change in the way we view ourselves within our surroundings.
We are meant to be good stewards of this planet. Not so long ago, the abundance of just about everything we’ve been blessed with was taken for granted. The air would always be clean, the mountains mighty and untouched, water would always be pristine, forests would blanket sacred places, and fields of flowers and crops would always be right there for us whenever we wanted them to be. We were surrounded with bountiful life – fish, mammals, birds, reptiles – an astonishing and magnificent variety – honey bees, butterflies, … so much life – and then we all got carried away and somehow became convinced that despite all that we had, it was not quite enough.
I’m of an age where I clearly recall a time in my childhood when times were so incredibly different than they are today… what a change there has been in just mere decades. When my parents needed (not “wanted”) new furniture or a new appliance, they scrimped and saved for that item and then they cared for it, as we tend to do when we have to work to acquire things. Clothes were mended and handed down from child to child (I was the third girl – hence there were some very well-used items) and then on to cousins if they could use them. I still remember a really ugly worn-out orangey-red sweater passed along to me from my male cousins that I hated wearing, but the law was laid down and it was donned for playing outdoors on weekends. But the feeling I remember the most is one of contentment. When there was something my heart truly desired, it was usually very simple and chances were, if it was manageable, it would arrive as a cherished gift for a birthday or Christmas… but I had to wait for it, or I had to earn it. I had a paper route, and other jobs as well – babysitting (not my favourite job) and even grass cutting with one of those old push mowers – no gas required, just nice sharp blades that would whirrrr across the lawn and shoot up grass clippings that would stick onto your bare legs. None of us ever thought that we should get whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it. What a ridiculous notion when we had everything we needed.
So – what changed? I have to say I think we changed. My generation, the Baby Boomers, played outside whenever we could for hours on end as kids, but that started to change when televisions gradually gained a prominent place into just about every home, and slowly and insidiously captured little blocks of time in our lives as an audience. We became willing targets for marketing. We were introduced to toys we didn’t know we wanted, fashion that would make us popular, substances like alcohol and tobacco that would make us cool… and now that we knew what “cool” was, we really wanted to be just that. I wonder how many images on a screen have been flashed before our eyes in a lifetime. Surely it is in the millions. And surely it has changed the way we think.
I’m a fan of HGTV – no one gets hurt, and they have some wonderful ideas for renovating homes – if you can afford it. I’ve noticed that where there were one or two of these shows a few years back, there are dozens now. And after watching stunning reno after stunning reno, I have developed a bit of home envy. Some of it is merited. We’re due for some upgrades in this old house (yes, we have wallpaper that is probably over 30 years old, among other things) but lately, when we see homes that seem to be quite lovely stripped down to the 2X4s to be transformed into a more fashionable home, I’m wondering about all that stuff going to landfills, and all the natural resources used to make the new products.
I get it. We would all like to live in beautiful homes. I’m just thinking that maybe we can improve on our track record for creating waste, that shouldn’t be waste at all. It’s dismal. And this is where antiques and vintage items come in. There’s a reason so much older furniture is still around – it was well made, made to last, and even to be passed down from generation to generation. Can’t say that for the particleboard desk in one of our rooms upstairs. And kitchenware (just one of many examples)… so many wonderful previously-owned/used things are available at antique shops and second-hand stores. If you have a style you want to express, try to forgo the instant gratification of ordering online and make it a mission to find what you’re looking for at some of the aforementioned locations. Try to make use of what’s already here… there is so much to choose from. There are times when we hear of beautiful old homes and buildings being torn down to make way for new buildings – which are probably not going to be anywhere near as well-built as what they are replacing. (I concede that the electrical and insulation might be improved.) It’s heartbreaking, but thank goodness for the restoration companies (ie: Legacy Vintage and Ed’s Hardware) that painstakingly remove and/or search out the treasures these buildings have to be re-used by those of us who prefer restoration to renovation. If the building must go, at least some parts of its history lives on. Remember the three Rs? Reduce, re-use and recycle. That was the plan about 20 years ago. What’s happened?
While I’m going on about the environment, I’d like to address an article in this issue about “The Land Between” that you’ll find on page 24. The article doesn’t have a lot to do with antiques per se, but it does offer invaluable information about our environment – how precious it is and that NOW is the time to lend a hand to help preserve – or even better – restore – our beautiful natural habitat. I found The Land Between when I “googled” turtle rehab after finding a tiny turtle run over on a road near us. (It was too late for that little guy, but I wanted to know what was available for information.) We live in a marshy rural area and I have seen turtles every one of the 25 years we’ve been here, but the numbers keep dwindling. To date, I have only seen one other one (this time alive, I am happy to say) in our immediate area, but none anywhere else. I recall driving to Westport in previous years to attend the antique show that used to take place there and dodging dozens of turtles on highway 7. And even here on our 8th Concession there used to be many by the creek where the road bends to the east of us. I don’t know about you, but I passionately want my little granddaughter to see critters like turtles, living, healthy turtles… not just pictures of turtles in a book that might soon say “these creatures used to live on the earth…” as she is growing up and be able to show them to her children. After Leora Berman, a remarkable person and the founder of The Land Between and Turtle Guardians got back to me, we had a long chat about a number of related things, but especially about turtles and how amazing they are. I will soon become a Turtle Guardian as a result, and I am hoping that by placing her article in the WT it will help create an awareness of the urgency we are facing to be the good stewards I mentioned earlier. We can’t waste any more time.
Before I finish up I have an important apology to make to my writer Douglas Phillips who provides me with excellent articles and show coverage on a regular basis. He’s my “go-to” guy, always putting remarkable effort into his work and he does it with such devotion that I am constantly touched by how much he (and his lovely wife and assistant, Marja) love this country after immigrating here from Great Britain many years ago. In our last issue, Doug wrote a timely and important article to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. If you didn’t read it, that could be my fault. I accidentally missed getting it into the spring issue’s index, and for that, I sincerely apologize. It was a work of great significance that acknowledged our Canadian men and women who played crucial roles in WWII, many of them based right here in Ontario – specifically Camp X in Whitby. Doug and Marja were so gracious about my oversight and I can’t tell them enough how much I appreciate their work in the WT – it’s people like them who make the WT look good!
Have a wonderful, happy summer – don’t forget to stop and look around you and marvel at what we have. Drive safely – watch out for critters. Enjoy the many shops, shows and events that you’ll find in the WT. Be the person who really wants to practise the Reduce/Re-Use/ Recycle process, not just for our own benefit, but more importantly for our kids and grandkids. (And for the critters, too!) Thanks for reading the WT. Safe travels, God bless.