Last week I had the joy and privilege of watching my cousin get married to the love of her life. The wedding was held in Ottawa, about 5 hours from where we live. Because it was an early morning wedding, we knew we would need to leave at least a day in advance in order to get there on time. So we booked ourselves in at the home of my aunt and uncle (unrelated to the cousin getting married, as it happens) and asked if we could stay there for a couple of nights. My aunt and uncle live in Lanark County, less than an hour from Ottawa. It is easily one of the most beautiful places in all of Ontario.
My uncle is an artist–a painter–and in my estimation (not that it’s really worth anything with my knowledge of art) an exceptional one. I am unable to go to his house or visit his web site without seeing at least a painting or two that I just need to have. He lives in Lanark at least in part because of its beauty–the sheer magnificence of the area gives him nearly endless opportunities to find scenes and landscapes that he can capture with his brush. And while Lanark is always beautiful, I’m convinced it could be no more beautiful than it is right now, resplendent in autumn colors. This time of year, with summer fading into fall and a Canadian winter fast approaching, the trees are in full glory, every one of them a work of art testifying to the loving hand of the Creator. As the trees begin to lose their leaves, the rest of the landscape begins to show just a little more–rocks that were hidden behind summer foliage peer out beneath the trees. Rivers, streams and waterways appear from behind increasingly bare branches. It’s glorious.
Southern Ontario, the portion that is sprawled out along the American border is largely developed but Lanark has retained a kind of purity. It still has huge portions that are wild. There are bears, wolves, coyotes, deer, fishers, and all other kinds of wildlife. Rumor even has it that cougars have made their way back into the area. I was overwhelmed by the beauty all around.
I’m a city guy, or a suburb guy more correctly. I’ve lived in suburbs of Toronto for nearly all my life. Rarely have I desired to be in the midst of a downtown and rarely have I desired to be in the middle of nowhere. But stepping outside of my aunt and uncle’s house, early on a Saturday morning, with no sounds of traffic and no neighbors to be seen anywhere, my heart nearly melted. I went and sat down near the river that flows through their property and just sat and enjoyed the silence, broken only by the trickle of a nearby waterfall, reduced to just a small flow after a dry summer. Before long the silence was broken as my daughter toddled up to me and attempted to scamper right into the river. But in that moment, for the first time I remember, I wanted to live in the country–I would have marched right home, sold my house, and come back to Lanark. Just around the corner from my aunt and uncle is a beautiful property with a huge house and plenty of land. Property prices being what they are in that area, we could probably sell our townhouse with its tiny plot of land and buy the massive property with the proceeds. I was tempted.
My senses soon returned. They had to, really. We’ve planted ourselves in the city where we have friends and a church and where we look for opportunities to share the gospel. We would miss being within a few minutes of a massive grocery store, would soon long for more companionship and would not be able to exist for long without high speed internet and cell phone access. We’re suburb folk. So we piled back into the van and headed home–back to Toronto. We returned to the city and all the amenities it offers. But I think I left my heart in Lanark.