Tag Archives: wilderness

Living In Constant Sorrow in a Lanark Swamp — Soggy Bottom Gal

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I was all set to tell you where I went today, BUT as I sat here looking at the computer screen; I had to get something out of my system. Today I drove by at least a dozen swamps, and as I complained in the Blakeney and Beckwith blog- there was no way I could handle situations like that in those early years. I repeat, NO way my lace up granny boots of years gone by were getting wet for any man or Promised Land.  Are you saying I am allergic to pioneer exercise? Honey, I still haven’t found the right exercise yet–let alone then.

Lanark county has 47 provincially significant wetlands. Some of the largest are Blueberry Marsh (north of Perth), the Innisville Wetlands (upstream of Mississippi Lake) and the Goodwood Marsh south of Carleton Place. Those would be the major ones-there are thousands of minor ones. Settlers tell of long stretches of swamp where, by actual measurement, the black mud was over three feet in depth

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Since I have shrunk now to 5ft 5, that would leave me 2 feet of clearance. Well, there goes the knickers and part of the camisole and I refuse to ever be a soggy-bottom gal. (Okay, no mention to aging women changing their underwear after sneezing) There were also thousands of stinging and biting insects and forests full of wild pigeons sometimes flying in flocks of “five acres”. Five acre flocks of poop dropping pigeons? You know what happens–some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue. You want pioneer women to carry guns too? Oh hell I know, those early illegal Lanark squatters aren’t going to shoot themselves.

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“The trails and bridle-paths by which they came, sometimes carrying their belongings, sometimes leading oxen with an ox-cart, wound laboriously through towering forests and dank swamps, across flooded creeks, up log-strewn hills and around black morasses. And when, at last, some summer evening, they reached their destination, they found a still denser wilderness, with only the frogs and the wolves to sing a chorus of welcome”.

Wolves like in the Fiddler’s Hill wolves? Oh Lord-I can’t even think about this now. It’s like potato chips. I hear about one darn swamp, a few wolf howls, think back, and I just can’t stop complaining.  It’s seriously a disturbing amount of knowledge.

As a beginning, the new-comers, unused to axe-work, were obliged to cut a road twenty miles long through the wooded wilderness before they could reach the principal place of settlement, and, arriving there, found the surveying of their lands only beginning. Sometimes, too, the promised rations were stopped for very slight reasons. 

I’m sorry, but I even hate camping. I am a “mints on the pillow” “fresh towels” sort of gal. I wouldn’t have done this for any man, not even if he had an over sized wagon with jacked up large tires and big springs.  I would have told my pioneer husband right away: Don’t make me wade through a bunch of your personal issues and three-foot mud to find a new life in wherever the-hell-it-is. I don’t give a crap about your never-ending issues and desires, I’m not your therapist. I just want to get to the damned Promised Land somewhere in Lanark County- and make that pronto!

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Listen, anyone cooking in a designer toga and cooking in a 900 square foot stainless steel and granite kitchen should not be calling herself pioneer anything.  My Grammy had a recipe for baked chicken and the first line was, “Catch yourself a good size chicken”. Well, that shot my cholesterol up to about 9000- especially after the thought of having to deal with struggling animals. Was there really dignity in being a pioneer woman? Sorry, mine is under the stove somewhere.  Did Lanark County male pioneers really want to be trekkies before their time? Count me out! Stay tuned tomorrow to where I really went-without the complaining.

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No person who has never been in a new settlement can conceive how fatiguing and unpleasant it is to wade through swamp and bushes, and climb over rocks and fallen timber under a burning sun and surrounded with clouds of mosquitoes. Every night when I reached home I was ready to drop down both with corporeal and mental fatigue.

From Rev. William Bell:

Letter XVI from Perth, Upper Canada