Haunted by Books - theHumm April 2021

Haunted by Books - theHumm April 2021

By John Pigeau

As unpleasant as restrictions and lockdowns may be, most of us have found some healthy ways to cope with them and keep our spirits up during this past year’s once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Baking became a go-to for some folks, as did gardening, both in and outdoors. Cycling made a comeback too, and judging by social media posts, a whole lot of families adopted a whole lot of puppies. And if people weren’t knitting their new puppy a new sweater, it seemed they were piecing together puzzle after puzzle, and normally there was a bottle of wine or a locally-brewed craft beer on the table too. Then there were folks like me: bookworms, avid readers, bibliophiles — who all at once found ourselves at home, with a considerable amount of reading time on our hands, although that was not necessarily a bad thing.

No, in fact, it was sometimes pleasant — like a Snow Day used to be back when we were kids. And as small businesses adapted to lockdowns, a rather cool phenomenon began: you could call your favourite indie bookshop in the morning with a request or two, and have those requests delivered to your mailbox later that day. Like books were pizzas. It was weird. And it was glorious.

For many people, reading is therapeutic. It’s also thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing — a quiet, compelling and richly-imaginative diversion in a sometimes too-loud, too-chaotic world.

For others, reading can be a spiritual experience, a gratifying voyage, a balm for a bothered soul.

“To read is to take stories into ourselves,” says Saskatchewan-writer Harold R. Johnson, whose book Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (And Yours) was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for English-language non-fiction in 2016. “Stories are powerful,” Johnson says, “they shape the world, they shape the way we see things, the way we experience our journey here. To read is to be carried along a path, a road, a winding stair, a sailing ship, a space ship, a thought ship. A book is a journey, and like our life journey, the best part is the travelling, not the destination.”

My friend Hollay Ghadery, author of the forthcoming memoir Fuse, thinks along similar lines. “Reading has always been a preferred means of escape,” she says, “but this year, it’s the only one — besides being in nature — that truly feels like an escape. Holding a bound paper book in my hand loosens the digital tether that has become an even more permanent fixture of my life. Reading reminds me there are worlds beyond this one; there’s hope.” 

Shelley MacBeth, owner of Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, Ontario, a beautiful bookshop that has twice won The Libris Award (for Best Bookstore in Canada), knows the value of a good book.

“Personally,” she says, “reading as a ‘transporter’ is everything. It could be solace, escapism, intrigue, provocation but… the right book? Totally immersive.”

A deeply absorbing book can be mesmerizing. For me, a single sentence can be mesmerizing — and it can snag me, as they say, hook, line, and sinker. As this one did, written by Hilton Als, in the “Forward” to Joan Didion’s Let Me Tell You What I Mean: “A peculiar aspect of Joan Didion’s nonfiction is that a significant portion of it reads like fiction.” That’s when a voice in my head says, yes, yes, yes, now please tell me more. Why is that? And I settle into my chaise lounge chair, pull a soft throw snugly over my shoulders, and dig in. Often, I’ll have read a dozen pages before I think to look up again at my surroundings. Still raining. Cat’s curled up in her blanket near the window. Fan is whirring. Hmm. Then I’ll relocate my place on the page and read on: “‘I ransacked my closet for clothes in which I might appear invisible in class,” Didion remembers, “and came up with only a dirty raincoat. I sat in this raincoat and I listened to other people’s stories read aloud and I despaired of ever knowing what they knew.’”

I felt a recognition, then, in how Didion felt — dread, wanting to disappear; almost sick in the uncertainty that the stories she wanted to tell were the stories people wanted to hear. A chill fell over my shoulders. That was me in high school, I thought. That was me in university. That was me when I was writing my first novel.

In recognizing ourselves in others, through books, we become more connected. We feel less alone, less adrift perhaps, and sometimes less afraid. The less afraid part strikes me as significant during a catastrophic global pandemic. What a blessing it is to be made to feel less afraid, to be gathered safely in by the solace of shared experience. It is not itself like a vaccine that will render one immune to an oft-deadly virus, but it is a bridge of comfort. And for the time being, we can use all the comfort we can get.

Little wonder that, when I’m in need of inspiration, I spring to my feet, walk hurriedly to my kitchen bookshelf, pluck out my timeworn, dog-eared copy of Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, flip to a well-marked page, and drink in these lines:

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. 

I am haunted by waters.

I read that passage three, maybe four times a year. Every time it leaves me breathless, in awe. And sometimes its beauty brings tears to my eyes. Always, the elegiac words that end MacLean’s novella ignite in me a firestorm of inspiration. And I am filled with gratitude to the author for leaving us such profound and soulful beauty.

I am haunted by books.


Kaajuk Kablalik — Art is My Medium for Preserving My Inuit Culture - theHumm April 2021

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

When I think of jewellery, I don’t usually think of walrus whiskers or whale baleen, but these natural materials feature prominently and beautifully in Kaajuk Kablalik’s distinctive pieces. Originally from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Kaajuk (friends call him Kaaj) loves working with the materials “from home” that inspire him to promote and preserve his Inuit culture.

He is used to questions about the unfamiliar components that make his earrings and necklaces so different fr......


Spring Fine Art Showin Carleton Place - theHumm April 2021

Rub the sleep out of your eyes and give a good stretch! Come out of hibernation and welcome spring surrounded by incredible original works by local artists. On Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30, Arts Carleton Place presents their annual Spring Fine Art Show and Sale at the CP Canoe Club at 179 John Street, from 10am–4:30pm each day. Both parking and admission are free.

The arts kept so many of us afloat during the past year: musicians gave online conce......


Festival of the Maples
We’re Back – Just Virtually!
- theHumm April 2021

The 2021 Festival of the Maples will be a virtual experience, due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. People who would normally attend in person are encouraged to connect with the Festival of the Maples through the website festivalofthemaples.com and social media pages to enjoy an online artisan market, fun maple facts, and upcoming contests and games.

On the website, people can also find links to l......


The Aquanaut Among Us —An Interview with Jill Heinerth - theHumm April 2021

Carleton Place resident Jill Heinerth is a Canadian cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer and filmmaker. She is a veteran of over thirty years of filming, photography and exploration on projects in submerged caves around the world. Jill is the first Explorer in Residence for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Explorers Club and member of the inaugural class of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She has made TV series, consulted on movies, and written severa......


Dickie’s Cause 4 Paws Online Auction - theHumm April 2021

Dickie’s Cause 4 Paws is a non-profit, no-kill, volunteer-run organization in Carleton Place that is dedicated to rescuing and saving the lives of abandoned, lost or feral cats and kittens in Lanark County. In addition to their Trap, Neuter, Release or Re-home Program, they also provide spay/neuter for farmers who are overwhelmed with cats, and for low-income families.

As it is almost “kitten season”, they are planning an online auction to raise money towards vet care for the cats an......


Ready for Hiking Season? - theHumm April 2021

By Vickie Walsh

“I wish I had a…” says a friend while we are hiking. “Oh — I have that, one second,” I reply. She looks at me deadpan and says, “Of course you do”.

It is a well-known fact that I hike with enough kit to earn all the boy scout badges, and yet still keep my day pack light enough that it’s not a burden. Where did this insistence on being “always prepared” come from? Well, mostly from an experience in the military while deployed over twenty years ago. We were about to head out on a vehicle patrol, so......


Artists Welcome Spring with New Online Show - theHumm April 2021

Spring is the season of creation, and to celebrate, West Carleton Arts Society (WCAS) is launching its first online Spring Fling Art Show and Sale. It will take place from April 5–18 and can be viewed at wcasonlineshows.ca .

This year’s show will feature the works of 33 artists in a range of media. “This is always a fun show,” says organizer Judi Miller. “We have watercolour, oil and acrylic paintings, as well as pho......


It’s Show Time! - theHumm April 2021

By Glenda Jones

Get out your wallet; sit by your computer with your finger poised over the Bid button. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Birdhouse Blowout Auction goes LIVE on April 12!

You’ll find the auction site at mvfn.ca/birdhouse-blowout , featuring over 20 birdhouses, veritable works of art created by local crafters who have worked for months to produce these magnificent pieces.

The auction will run from mid......


Natural Solutions = Climate Solutions - theHumm April 2021

By Chandler Swain

This month, to celebrate spring after our long Covid-y winter, we are focusing the Climate Network Lanark column on our Nature-Based Climate Solutions Working Group and several of its initiatives.

To begin, let me introduce Jay Young, the coordinator of this working group. Jay lives outside Clayton with his wife Amber, who teaches yoga and is a massage therapist, and their two boys. As a project manager with Carebridge Community Support, Jay leads the development of the Neighbourhood T......


Make Your Business Cycle-Friendly! - theHumm April 2021

Ontario By Bike ontariobybike.ca is offering a Webinar entitled “Destination Bike — Welcoming Cyclists in Lanark County” on Wednesday, April 28 from 10am to 11am.

The Ontario By Bike Network certifies tourism businesses and locations as bicycle-friendly, helping businesses reach the growing number of cycle tourists in Ontario, promoting and further developing cycle tourism in destinations across Ontario.

Now more than ever, cy......


Let’s Be Alone Together at Sivarulrasa Gallery - theHumm April 2021

From March 31 to May 7, Sivarulrasa Gallery in Almonte is pleased to present Sarah Anderson: Let’s Be Alone Together, a solo exhibition of new paintings by artist Sarah Anderson. Based in Ottawa, Sarah works with techniques of abstraction. She sees colour as a powerful tool for the expression of emotion. Her paintings are influenced by her observations of people and relationships in everyday life, most commonly by themes of family. She is interested in “where we come from......


Haunted by Books - theHumm April 2021

By John Pigeau

As unpleasant as restrictions and lockdowns may be, most of us have found some healthy ways to cope with them and keep our spirits up during this past year’s once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Baking became a go-to for some folks, as did gardening, both in and outdoors. Cycling made a comeback too, and judging by social media posts, a whole lot of families adopted a whole lot of puppies. And if people weren’t knitting their new puppy a new sweater, it seemed they were pie......


Rain Barrel Fundraiser
Almonte Lion’s Club and Home Hospice North Lanark Join Forces
- theHumm April 2021

“We Serve” — that is the simple, to-the-point motto of the world’s largest service club, begun in 1917. It is a motto that the Almonte Lion’s Club has been dedicated to locally since 1947. Home Hospice North Lanark, incorporated in 2013, is a relative newcomer. But the organizations find common ground with their commitment to serving their community with passion and compassion. They are also 100% volunteer-driven and funded by donations and targeted fundraising efforts.

Fundraising has been a challenge over the last year for all organizations that depend on it. Both organizations are ......


Welcome Spring with a Virtual Fashion Show - theHumm April 2021

By Susan Burke

A fashion show? During Covid? We can do it! Zion-Memorial United Church will be presenting a virtual fashion show on Thursday, April 22, at 7pm. There are five shops in Carleton Place who are participating: The Wool Shop, Sinders Bridal House, Graham’s Shoes, The Dress Shop and Aquisti Life. They will be joined by Almonte’s Kentfield Kids. Tickets are $10, and proceeds will go to the Church.

This is a great way to see what’s new at local shops for the spring and summer season in a saf......


Here on the Flight Path
Heartfelt Laughs (Virtually!) from Station Theatre
- theHumm April 2021

By Submitted Smiths Falls Community Theatre

I spy with my little eye… It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s two actors on stage together?? Almost as elusive as Superman! The Station Theatre is so very excited to announce that at the end of April they will be presenting their next play, to an audience, via Zoom. Norm Foster’s Here on the Flight Path is a super-cute comedy about a fellow named John (played by Noel White), who just wants to live a nice, quiet life in his fourth-floor apartment. However, his life continues to be ......


How April Showers Bring May Flowers
And Pandemics Push Us to Build Better
- theHumm April 2021

By Sarah Kerr

Winter is now safely behind us and as the famous saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”. Although the rains are rather unpleasant, we can be certain that they will bring an abundance of beauty to our community. This could be true of the pandemic we’re living in as well. Although the lockdowns are testing our patience as parents, this cloudy season may be giving us an opportunity to dig deep and rethink our idea of back to normal. A time to dream up “back to better”, as Kris Riend......


Just What I Needed - theHumm April 2021

By Glenda Jones

My sister Sue lives on Vancouver Island. I haven’t seen her since forever but we email nearly every day; so far away, but so close I can feel her warmth. She sends me those beautiful Jacquie Larson cards with flowers and bunnies when her daffodils bloom and ours are still hidden under the snow. She’s off to the greenhouse buying pansies, and I’m trying to figure out if I should put the snow shovel away. She’s sipping wine on the deck when I’m still tying laces on snow boots. She’s watching the her......


The Blakeney Project - theHumm April 2021

By David Hinks

Amazing and extremely generous communities! The Lanark County Food Bank (branded as The Hunger Stop) has been overwhelmed by the response of our communities to the needs of our most vulnerable folks as the pandemic has exposed serious cracks in our social support structures. We have received local financial and food donations that continue to astound us.

But generous folk have also enabled us to find new ways to help the community: thanks to very generous land-owners and grant money from ......


Local Libraries Break into Spring - theHumm April 2021

By Your Friendly Neighbourhood Librarians

Now that “April Break” is a thing in Ontario, our local libraries are rising to the challenge of helping keep kids busy and happy during their week off. Here is a round-up of area offerings:

Spring Break Smiles at the Arnprior Library

Is anyone ready for a break? At the Arnprior Public Library we are gearing up for a week of fun activities in April. In addition to offering two readings a day of titles nominated for the Forest of Read......


Poem In Your Pocket Day - theHumm April 2021

By Dagne Forrest

The League of Canadian Poets (LCP) has celebrated “Poem In Your Pocket Day” annually since 2016. As a dedicated non-profit focused on supporting poets and poetry in Canada, LCP believes Poem In Your Pocket Day (April 18) is a beautiful way to deliver poetry and conversations about the arts into homes, offices, community spaces and more. In April, the LCP will mail out postcards featuring the selected winning poems from their annual Poem In Your Pocket Day Contest to all 900+ members of the League, and they encourage everyone in Canada to select a poem, carry it with them, and sh......


Concrete & River
A Poetry Workshop by Susan Gillis
- theHumm April 2021

As a follow-up to her Winterwords workshop, Susan Gillis is offering a four-session poetry workshop on Tuesdays from 3–4:30pm, beginning on April 27.

Susan writes: “From first thoughts to first lines, from early inklings to full poems: in this workshop, we consider as readers and writers what engages us in a poem and brings it to life. Each week we explore a published poem and discuss participants’ own work written in response to the week’s prompt.

“This workshop is for anyone interested in reading and writing poetry. All levels of experience are welcome; no specialized knowledge ......


Grappling with Grief - theHumm April 2021

In conjunction with SchoolBOX, Dina Bell-Laroche is offering a series of “Grief Cafés” to support people who are suffering through losses. Dina is a certified Integral Master Coach and Grief Companion who is turning her own loss story into a force for good during these difficult times. The cafés take place via Zoom, and participants are welcome to make donations to SchoolBOX — all proceeds are being directed to raise Tracy’s Hope Classroom #3 in Nicaragua.

Dina writes: “My involvement with Sch......


ConnectWell Community Health - theHumm April 2021

ConnectWell Community Health is the new name for Lanark Renfrew Health & Community Services (LRHCS) and all its parts and programs offered through Lanark Community Programs, North Lanark Community Health Centre and Whitewater Bromley Community Health Centre.

With 240 staff and 200 volunteers providing services that range from autism services and mental health supports to primary health care and therapeutic riding, ConnectWell Community Health’s programs and services will remain the same across the large rural geography the organization serves, including Lanark and Renfrew Coun......


The MVFN Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary
An Interview with 2018 Recipient Sophie Anderson
- theHumm April 2021

The 2021 Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary application period is now open. Students entering first year post-secondary studies in a university or college program related to the natural environment are encouraged to apply! Please go to mvfn.ca/cliff-bennett-nature-bursary for all eligibility criteria and the application form. The application deadline is May 1.

This year the Bursary Fund, a program of the Mississip......


Lake 88.1 — A Voice for the Valley - theHumm April 2021

Back in 2009, theHumm interviewed Brian Perkin about his then two-year-old radio station, Lake 88.1 lake88.ca . Based in downtown Perth, the station has spent the intervening years covering local events, promoting area businesses and initiatives, interviewing interesting folks, and generally providing an independent on-air voice for this part of the Valley. Recently, we discovered that Brian has made the difficult decision to s......


“Growing Hope”

Gardening Workshops
- theHumm April 2021

The Neighbourhood Tomato Community Farm (NTCF) is a relatively new initiative of Carebridge Community Support, and is in a sense an umbrella organization that will include the existing Neighbourh......