Friday, August 25, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Early Scribbles


My parents and I viewed the imminent approach
of break-up quite differently in late April, 1961.

While they laid in food and supplies
and worried about medical and dental emergencies,
I was excited by the romance of true isolation in the wild.

No in.  No out.


Causeway to the Father's Island
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Painting by Don MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



  

A year or so later I tried to capture
what I was feeling at the time
and scratched down:

Spring was the key
that began to unlock
the frozen grip of winter.

Our very souls ached for it.



Early Scribbles
Photo by Louise Barbour 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




But our joy was mingled with vague fears and apprehensions ~
Break-up time was drawing near.

The novelty of break-up fascinated me.
For a period of five or six weeks we would be marooned.
We were the Robinson Crusoes of northwestern Ontario.


Spring Draws Close in Northern Ontario
Flickr:  James Vincent Wardhaugh  License


All about me spring was written into the land.
The snow retreated leaving in its wake a riot of colors.
Red shrubs interwoven with black, grey with rust.

Golden dead flower stalks bravely withstood
the gurgling rivulets of water
trickling from the melting snow to the lakeshore.

The air was filled with the pungent, dank odor of damp earth,
rotting twigs, and the dead sweet fragrance of dried flowers.

Song birds filled the bush,
and the honking of sleek Canadian geese rang in the sky.


Canada Geese in Flight
  

Spring had come.
And with it came mud, thick black mud.

Overnight our school ground blossomed into
an intricate maze of canals, locks, cities, and dams.
What pleasure we children, both copper and white, 
took in the moulding of the cold black muck. 

Halfway down the slope in front of the school
we would laboriously construct a huge dam.
Beneath it we carefully and painstaking laid out
a beautiful city with roads, canals, ditches, houses, boats, and cars.

While we built, the water would build up behind our dam.
When all was finished we would step back and survey our handiwork.

Suddenly with a wild shriek, we would leap unto the dam,
rip it apart, and watch with satisfaction
as the water raged down the slope leaving havoc in its wake.

We never tired of this.


My School and Friends
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, Fall 1960 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



When I read my young scribbles about the North,
I see that girl who was and always had been fascinated with nature,
and who was and always would be a Romantic.

I also see that kid mucking around,
creating and destroying mud worlds
with the wild abandon of childhood.

By the time I wrote these scribbles I had matured,
become too old to muck around in the dirt.

I had better things to do,
like learning to jive and to twist,
to follow the Hit Parade,
to experiment with lipstick and mascara,
and to chase boys in a whole different way.


The Twist
by artist Thomas Hart Benton
Flickr:  James Vaughn   License



But you can't deny your basic nature,
and before long I was drawn to literature and geology,
back to mucking around in the dirt
and reading English Romantic poetry.






Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Shore of the Annapolis Basin
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 24, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved





Notes:
1.  Romanticism:
     Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement originating in Europe
     near the end of the 18th century.  It emphasized emotion and individualism, intuition over
     reason, the pastoral over the urban, and glorified the past and nature.  Wikipedia

     "To see a World in a Grain of Sand
      And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
      Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
      And Eternity in an hour ..."
   
      William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, poetryfoundation 



For Map Lovers Like Me:


Location of Lansdowne House
A Map Too Fun to Pass Up!




Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga



46 comments:

  1. Two hands, your words I always love to read, and William Blake's words, a perfect ending to my week down here.

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging words, Jean! They mean so much and keep me moving forward. I hope that Hugh is recovering and you are getting more and more back to the things you enjoy! Sending you both love and hugs!

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  2. I love your concluding paragraph, LOL!

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    1. Hi, Debra! I lived the conclusion and it made my life! Although, here I am decades later, in a panic every time I consider applying mascara, because I largely abandoned makeup decades ago. It didn't take long to be reminded, when working in the field, that flies and mosquitoes are attracted to the scents of beauty products. LOL I hope you and your Rare One have a great weekend!

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  3. Like that painting of the Twist. So lively and colourful.

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    1. Thanks, Haddock! I stumbled across it last night when I was searching for images for this post. I loved it for the reasons you shared. Happy weekend to you, and thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  4. really lovely post. Love how you talk about stories ♡♡♡

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    1. Thanks for your kind and encouraging comment, Gloria! I truly appreciate the feedback, because I loose all objectivity by the time I finish a post. Have a great weekend!

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  5. lol a little world conqueror through destruction. Hopefully no one let's you near a dam since your nature returned for going in the muck. Chase boys and do the twist, oh where the cat's gutter mind could go with that haha he can't help himself.

    With no way in or out it must have been very nerve racking for your parents.

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    1. Happy Friday, my funny friend! Your mind goes so many places, right or wrong! LOL There is a surge of wild power that comes with being a giant marauding conquerer and destroyer of worlds. The best fun!

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  6. Amazing! Being so completely cut off... wow. The map hands are sensational!

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    1. Hi, Jenny! It's hard to imagine being so isolated now. I was excited to find the hand maps. I'm a map lover, and this was a unique find! Have a great weekend!

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  7. I can't begin to imagine how filthy you and the other children got in that mud, but I guess it was part of life in the wilderness. Even as a youngster, your writing was beautiful.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Hi, JJ! Yeah, we got dirty, but we were kiddos. We didn't care. Thanks for your kinds words about my early writing. I have to grit my teeth and let it stand for itself, even though the temptation is strong to edit. LOL I hope that you have a great weekend!

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  8. After reading about your childhood at Lansdowne it is hard to think that you are now at this writing turning into a teenager. I always think of you as being so isolated so when you talked about the twist and Hit Parade it jarred me. I can see you becoming a young woman. And it is so evident that this phase in your life is what led you to be such a great writer.

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    1. Hi, Peggy! I was just turned eleven in Lansdowne House, but the following year I was in the great city of Sioux Lookout, population about 2500! And I dove into almost a teenager with great joy! Once we got an aerial up in LH, I began turning into WLS in Chicago which we got via atmospheric skip. By the time we hit Lac Seul in the summer of 1961 (pre-Sioux Lookout), I was already tuned into the Hit Parade. For the next ten years my transistor radio and I were inseparable. Dad or Mom would come up into my bedroom every night to turn it off after I had fallen to sleep. Parents are such saints! Wishing you a lovely weekend! Thanks for your kind words about my writing!

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  9. I've seen a lot of art drawn like The Twist when I was in school.

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    1. I loved this painting because it was so energetic and vibrant. Have a great weekend, my friend!

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  10. I love the twist painting too, Louise, and it brings back fond childhood memories for me, I loved dancing to Chubby Checker back in the day! :) I hope you are doing well, dear friend, thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Wasn't it fun dancing to Chubby Checker, Linda?! I have such fond memories of that time! I am feeling like my old self, energy rising! Wishing you a lovely weekend, and sending you love and hugs!

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  11. I think there's something magical about the days of really taking in the seasons changing. Building of the dam and playing in the puddles. I don't think many kids these days will ever appreciate the sense of wonder and excitement that of just enjoying nature/season changes as soon as it comes rolling in. They're too busy on their devices these days to just stop and appreciate the beauty that's all around us. Sadly, my kids can be that way sometimes too.

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    1. It is sad, Theresa. Our kids are too divorced from playing outside in nature, and they're missing out on so much. My favorite book on this subject is "The Sense of Wonder" by Rachel Carson. My nephew and niece recently had a baby girl, and they'll be getting this book for Christmas as parents. I hope that you are enjoying a great weekend!

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    2. I'll have to grab a copy of that book for some rainy day reading. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  12. Hello dear Louise,
    Many many thanks for your many kind words on each of my latest posts, WOW! amazing you got the patience to go through all of them but your enthusiasm makes my fauna photography well worth the effort!!
    Funny, I too loved to play in puddles when I was a kid, especially but more so to search them for critters of all sorts like salamanders!
    I believe too many kids don't enjoy nature any more at least those who are raised in medium and large cities.
    It must be wonderful to go through all these memories and putting them down here; you're doing a great job for yourself but I guess for your family too.
    Just got back from Spain with loads of great pics ;-)))))
    I have work for many hours ahead to sort them all out!
    Much love my friend, take care and enjoy your we :)

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    1. Your posts are amazing, Noushka, so even if I fall behind, I try not to miss one. I feel sorry for kiddos who don't get outside enough. Parents need to share the wonders of nature with their children. Sadly, so many parents are over-burdened with responsibilities and short on time. I'm wishing you wonderful, passionate hours as you sort out your photos! Much love to you, too, Noushka!

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  13. Thanks so much for visiting our blog. You have a lovely blog and sure brought back many memories to me especially with the Twist picture. That is a beautiful place that you live. You all have a super day.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words about my blog, Marg! Wishing you a great Sunday and start to the week!

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  14. Louise, you are an incredible human being. Reading these entries every week I can see why and how this all came to be. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us here. It was and continues to be quite remarkable. You have quite the 'grip' on what it is to be alive.

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    1. You're such a sweetheart, Jim! Thanks for all your kind words. I have been very blessed in my life! Hugs to you!

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  15. The twist is getting mighty close to our meeting time, Louise. I am forever grateful for our short sojourn at this age. Now what is this I hear ~ Chubby Checker ♫♪♫ Let's Twist again ♫♪♫

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    1. I read your comment earlier, slowly working through the replies ~ And I've had "Let's Twist Again..." running through my head all afternoon! LOL You were always such a special person from my point of view. I'm so glad that we spent Grade 8 as friends, reconnected briefly in the library at Acadia, and reconnected again these past few years. That has been s source of great joy for me! And then I got Jim and Sophie to boot! Call me lucky! Have a good one, my friend!

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  16. and tag, I'm over here to read your blog. I've seen you around, just never popped over. Now I'm hooked. I always love the term "mucking about". Looks like a life of adventures. I shall continue coming back.

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    1. Hola, Joanne! Thanks for your kind comment! I agree ~ Pat is definitely a good guy! I've enjoyed him so much over the past few years. I've made it a point to visit all the bloggers he has been featuring this month. I've seen people's icons over the years, and his posts pushed me to go finally visit people. Have a good one!

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  17. Captivating and astonishing. Your skill at "early scribbles" is enchanting. I feel I've been drawn forcibly but gently through decades here. You have a remarkable skill.

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging and kind comments, Geo! You bolster my courage to keep moving forward with this story! I hope that you and Norma have a great day!

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  18. I enjoyed reading. Great and fond memories.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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    1. Thank you, Andrew! I'm glad that you enjoyed reading my post! Have a good one!

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  19. Part of me is fascinated by the romanticism of being out there in the middle of nowhere. Although I'm not sure if I'd really enjoy it. :-D

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    1. Your comment made me chuckle, Misha! I'm not sure that I would enjoy it today ~ maybe in a smaller dose. Now Lansdowne House has an all weather airport and many ways to connect with the Outside beyond short wave radio. Have a good one!

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  20. Another great post! I laughed at you chasing boys and then not before long you were back to literature, geology, and back to mucking around in the dirt! LOL! Adorable! Big Hugs!

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    1. Big hugs to you, Stacy! My love of literature, geology, and the outdoors have been the foundation of my life! Have a great week!

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  21. I can see how you had to be organized and prepared for that period of isolation to survive. I'm imagining the solitude it brought and the comfort. I'm also thinking of the quiet. The one time I experienced that kind of quiet was on Doubtful Sound in New Zealand. Astonishing and humbling. As always, I enjoyed your telling of life and the Landsdowne House.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Lee. Solitude is what I remember most about the North. I could be utterly alone in a silent world, especially in cold, clear weather. I doubt I will ever experience something like that again. I would dearly love to visit New Zealand. I think it must be one of the loveliest places in the world. Have a good one!

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  22. I can't get enough of these posts. I actually save them until I have time to sit down and truly, patiently enjoy them! Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with us. What an amazing family history.

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    1. Thanks, Martha! You always give me courage to keep on going! I'm glad that you enjoy my family's story! Take care, my friend!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.