When I was young I was a bit more adventurous that I am now. Specifically, i was much more excited to go explore new places in woodland areas. One big adventure happened when I was about 14. I lived in a rural estate that failed when the oil boom went bust in the early 1980s in Alberta.
For many people in the area it meant they were selling homes which were mortgaged to the hilt for about a buck. They were crumbling under the weight of a recession and it took my family with it. My father being a real estate agent found it a rough time.
However that is not the point of the story. What was supposed to be an area of 60 to 100 homes situated 20 minutes from the city became a small sign on the side of the highway with about 20 families and not a great deal to show for it.
So what does this have to do specifically with my adventure?
Well during that period I was one of about 10 kids in the area, I lived at home long after my brothers and sister had left so I spent a lot of time tramping around by myself exploring. We lived on the top of a coulee near the Belly River in Southern Alberta. It is to say the least the middle of nowhere.
So in the river bottom almost no one travelled the trails. It was a serene, yet creepy area where wind and noise were really absent. But yet when there was wind the wind creaking the trees would put the willies in most people.
My fondest memory was visiting an old shack at the bottom of the coulee. The wood had long since fallen into disrepair, I could not tell you what it was used for but the wood was grey and almost white with exposure. One almost got the sense that it was a significant building but had lost all interest to the world except for a young kids who loved to talk in hushed tones about the ghost house.
Often I would walk to that building always wondering what it had been and a little frightened to go anywhere near. Mothers always warned of “rusty old nails,” waiting to grab you so you feared places like that to some extent for their vicious nails.
Often wandering in those woods I would look for places to create hideyholes. I would be create a lean-to which became my fort, clearing away scrub in the area and generally using it to defend myself from other kids who were around just looking to mess with my secret place.
Yet I would always go back to that sad old building and wonder, what are you? It is one of those puzzles which I often find myself doing when I read the writings of some figure or ordinary person, who were you really? How can I get inside your head and understand your heart?
From old building to old lives to even our modern internet lifestyle that feeling of curiousity is what drives me and I would put at least some of the blame on that old building in the middle of nowhere.