Aug 21, 2022
It is too easy to imagine early Europeans pushing westward, ever westward, deep and deeper onto an uncharted wilderness in search of fame and glory no matter the risks to life and limb. It is an incomplete, convenient history.
There is a beauty beyond the borders of the civilized that compels. That draws and pulls like oxen at the yoke. Irresistible and unyielding, a siren call to romantics living in any age.
Paddling down the Ottawa, I was struck by how beautiful this river really is. Having seen my share of rivers over the last few months, I was expecting different, but not beautiful.
Stopping mid stream, waiting for the wake of the boat to ripple away to parts unknown, I felt certain that I was not alone. That La Verendrye, or de Noyon had done the same. That a thousand thousand indigenous travellers, their wakes rippling through history, had done the same.
Not gold or furs or fame. Beauty. For the sheer beauty of it. Step outside one starlit night, glance upward, and ask yourself why go there? To the stars and planets and beyond. Or into a meadow or forest. Climb a mountain or molehill, comeback and tell me it wasn’t beautiful. I dare you. In fact, I double-dog, hope to die, dare you.