Still do­ing this 15 years later? Hard to be­lieve

Northumberland Today - - OPINION - Gra­hame Woods can be reached at gg­woods@sym­pa­

Yes, hard to be­lieve. For some­one who has oc­ca­sional, age-re­lated mem­ory con­cerns, I can see it as though, well, as though it was yes­ter­day.

Around this time of the year in 2002, in the of­fice of Mandy Martin, editor of the then Cobourg Daily Star, whose DNA is part of this news­pa­per, we were dis­cussing dif­fer­ent forms of writ­ing. I had been a news­pa­per junkie since I was a kid and, in my late teen years, worked at a news agency as a pho­tog­ra­pher and, oc­ca­sion­ally, wrote short news items.

In 2002 and re­cently re­tired, I rather brazenly floated the idea of writ­ing a bi-weekly col­umn for the pa­per. Some­thing along the lines of ob­serv­ing the lo­cal pass­ing scene.

And here I am, 15 years and some 400-plus col­umns later (some­times I wrote more than two a month) trip­ping down Mem­ory Lane. In fact, it’s quite a long lane, reach­ing back al­most 40 years to the days when I ap­proached the editor of the Wark­worth Journal in 1979 won­der­ing if he would be in­ter­ested in an oc­ca­sional col­umn on ob­ser­va­tions of our new life?

In many ways, I did it out of a sense of male in­se­cu­rity. My wife Glo­rya and I had moved from The Big City to our farm in Mor­ganston and, with a horse in the barn and dreams of ex­plor­ing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent lifestyle, were de­pen­dent on the ad­vice of our new neigh­bours, Jack Carr and Claude Puf­fer, as we took one cau­tious step at a time into the un­known. Jack and Claude’s fam­i­lies had been farm­ing in Mor­ganston for

gen­er­a­tions and were very gen­er­ous with their help and ad­vice. Our farm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence? At first, zero, but it grew - to a barn full of horses, cat­tle, sheep, peafowl, chick­ens, guinea fowl, de­liv­er­ing foals and calves, and nur­tur­ing the in­her­ited barn cats; milk­ing, ship­ping cream, shov­el­ling ma­nure, stack­ing bales of hay and in a smaller barn, even­tu­ally look­ing after some of Claude Puf­fer pigs (our seal of ap­proval?); all pro­vid­ing, over the years, re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ences and won­der­ful fod­der for col­umns.

Later, after the Wark­worth Journal closed, and meet­ing the editor of the Col­borne Chron­i­cle, Eileen Ar­gyris, I wrote the oc­ca­sional col­umn for the Chron­i­cle un­til, as in a movie, the scene dis­solved to 2000 ... after 27 re­mark­able years at the farm, mov­ing to Cobourg where, as a mem­ber of the pa­per’s Cit­i­zen’s Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, I met Mandy from which came the birth of The Pass­ing Scene.

It’s been a re­mark­able run, never hav­ing a col­umn turned down be­cause of sub­ject mat­ter, though many read­ers over the years have dis­agreed with what I have writ­ten. Through the ad­vent of the In­ter­net and email, I have had many, many con­ver­sa­tions with read­ers, made on-line friends and, yes, have been chewed out by dis­sent­ing read­ers, in­clud­ing late evening phone calls (as well as pos­i­tive ones) cre­at­ing in­ter­est­ing di­a­logue. As well, in Cobourg’s pre­mier cof­fee house, I of­ten get face-to-face, dis­creet com­ments and nods.

Over the years, I have had re­mark­able sup­port from read­ers for my ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties my 1,000 Miles for Mzuzu bike ride and My Thanks for Life bike ride for Northum­ber­land Hills Hos­pi­tal - for which The Pass­ing Scene’s up­dates were an ex­cel­lent con­duit to in­form read­ers on my progress and to thank them for their re­mark­able gen­eros­ity.

So, tonight, oh around 9 p.m., I’ll raise a glass to toast 15 en­er­giz­ing years and to you, the read­ers, who have made The Pass­ing Scene so re­ward­ing for me. Cheers!

Well, maybe two glasses. I mean, why not?


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