The sky isn’t fall­ing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Canadian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­

The first car I owned wasn’t much big­ger than a gal­va­nized bucket. Friendly wags claimed it looked more like I was putting it on than squeez­ing be­hind the steer­ing wheel. A two dollar bill — two dollar bill!? — bought suf­fi­cient gas to fill its tank, plenty of fuel to drive two hun­dred miles. Yes, miles. Later on, when Dear­est Duck climbed aboard, so to speak, we needed a car with room for two. We bought a dark brown boxy lit­tle rig the colour of Dear­est Duck’s eyes. By this time five dol­lars was re­quired to fill the tank and drive the miles.

The price of a gal­lon — yes, gal­lon — of gas had in­creased by, oh, I don’t know, ten or fif­teen cents, p’raps.

Some folks feared the sky was be­gin­ning to splin­ter and fall. Yet the sky didn’t fall. Mer­rily we all mo­tored on. Then came a se­ries of en­ergy crises. Strife in the Mid­dle East, where desert sands float on sub­ter­ranean oceans of oil, ap­par­ently caused the cost of petroleum to soar for the clouds.

Alarmists, or sooth­say­ers, or some­body, warned of bro­ken shards of the heav­ens fall­ing on our nog­gins. Yet the sky didn’t fall. “Harry, my heaven-sent honey,” says Dear­est Duck, who still rides shot­gun in our lat­est au­to­mo­bile. “You sound a bit like Chicken Lit­tle.”

“Shush, my Duck,” say I, “you’ll steal my thun­der.”

“My love,” says Dear­est Duck, an en­dear­ment whose in­flec­tion sug­gests my thun­der is as fee­ble as pip­squeak wind in a node-east blow.

To speak like Thor the Norse god of thun­der, decades have zipped past as slick as grass through Goosy Gan­der. Dur­ing those years econ­o­mists, or who­ever stud­ied those zig-zag lines trac­ing the fluc­tu­at­ing — yet mostly up­ward — price of oil, were more con­cerned with the ups and downs and ups than English­men once were re­gard­ing the price of tea in China.

Since this young cen­tury has ceased to crawl and com­menced to tod­dle, high oil prices — al­beit a hin­drance to my and Dear­est Duck’s Sun­day drive — have be­come pil­lars prop­ping up our na­tion’s eco­nomic tem­ples. Even here in the erst­while Land of Dan where a ghostly voice from a still ear­lier time whis­pers echoes of Have Not Shall Be No More, oil rigs stand on guard while sip­ping crude from be­neath the ocean’s bedrock breast.

For ages, not a sin­gle soul so much as glanced at the solid fir­ma­ment.

Then while last year waned, the sheiks opened up the taps. Oil prices tum­bled. Ol’ Samson — if I may wax bi­b­li­cal — stood be­tween the tem­ple’s pil­lars and shuffed with all his might and the roof caved in.

The sky fell, nearly pin­ning Chicken Lit­tle’s tail feath­ers to the sod, eh b’ys?

“Oh, woe is we,” cried all and sundry.

Well, p’raps not all, only the Ex­che­quer’s Cop­per Coun­ters who be­wailed the loss of rev­enue.

When gas dropped to nine­ty­nine cents a litre, I high-tailed it to Canadian Tire, bought half a dozen of those large bright red jerry-cans and filled them to their bibs. Jerry-cans stowed in the back, I gassed up our Chevy, caught Dear­est by the hand and towed her to the shot­gun seat. We pulled into in­creas­ing traf­fic with Wil­lie singing on satel­lite ra­dio, “On the road again…” …or some­thing like that. Of course, gov­ern­ments have been play­ing nasty. Agree­ing that Chicken Lit­tle is most prophetic, they’re al­ready slash­ing and cut­ting and warn­ing that — woe be­tide us — taxes will have to in­crease, gob­ble­gob­ble.

Pause for a graphic, bloody aside. Once upon a bay-boy child­hood, I helped Pappy be­head our flock of “done layin’” hens. I passed a coopy-hen to Pappy. He brought down the axe … and tossed the head-less hen upon the ground where it danced a ghastly jig…

… a jig that now the doom­say­ers im­i­tate. They dance round the rub­ble of the fallen tem­ple like chick­ens with their heads … well, you know.

“Harry, there’s no need to be so grue­some,” says Dear­est Duck, my sweet­est duck, not my coopy-hen. Oh my. Lest my point be missed be­cause I bab­ble — the sky is not fall­ing. No way.

To para­phrase Kurt Von­negut, my favourite au­thor — living or dead — we hu­mans are petroleum ad­dicts.

And the ma­nip­u­la­tors know that first one floods the mar­ket. Then one nips off the flow …

…and up the prices go again, eh b’ys.

Or some­thing like that. What do I know about the price of gas, or the price of tea in China, for that mat­ter?

Thank you for read­ing, for un­der­stand­ing.

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