Lake brings back memories and conflicting emotions

ritchie

Admittedly, I’ve never been one to easily grasp the notion of object permanence. The idea that things continue to exist without our express permission is simple enough to understand – but in practice, the fact that the world keeps spinning after we’ve gone is a little more substantial of a concept than I ever care to trouble myself with.

Nonetheless, it’s a subject I always find myself revisiting when I run this trail behind my house in the evening. The paved track that soccer moms and hockey jocks tread breaks off behind the reservoir that bleeds the lake back into the Bow River in mid-October. As children, we used to dare each other to jump over the tangle of seaweed caught in the drainage pipe and cross to the other side when our parents weren’t watching. I lost my father’s boat key that way once. We seldom bridged the river dry.

RitchieIt may just be a chunk of preserved wilderness jutting out into a murky, man-made watering hole, but when the sun goes down, it’s the most beautiful place in Chestermere. Photo by Michaela Ritchie

The path there isn’t paved, but it is worn. Something about protected wilderness always seems to deter parents and intrigue rogue teenagers. One time when I was kayaking, I passed two girls – neither more than 14 – sharing a cigarette here at the waters edge, their awkward adolescent legs dangling toes into the sizzling summer swells of motorboats speeding in the distance.

I cannot judge them now any more than I could then. I remember many nights when friends would skip out on their homework and reconvene after dinner at the tip of the peninsula. We would gossip and pull stunts. As senior year passed by, we would worry about our futures and think about the day when we would all leave this little town behind. Someone even brought a beer once.

The town is now a city, and the friends that claimed they’d leave this place still haven’t, but we’ve all left each other in our own way. My neighbour – the girl who first brought me here when we were seven — has moved around the world. I’m still standing at the edge of the peninsula, wondering if any of them will ever come back, and if I’ll ever leave. Each time I turn to go home, it feels quite a lot like running away.

But every time I look out over my city, I know that I never could go forever. I love this place – and even if I did go, I know I’d never forget the time I’ve spent on the rocks at the waters edge, always watching the sun go down, and patiently waiting for it to rise again.

Produced by Michaela Ritchie

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