[/IMG]Two sunset photographs, the top one of Loch Leven on our last night in Scotland this summer, the bottom one of an unknown (to me) lake in northern Ontario almost exactly one year earlier.
I have deep memories of those evenings, both involving hours of gazing at the changing light, of which what you see here is only a microsecond's fractional framing, and does little justice to either.
Nonetheless, they illustrate a qualitatively different experience that is a function of their location. Loch Leven, although remote and unspoilt, is only a few dozen miles from large populations and is well known to a lot of people. That unknown Ontario lake is hundreds of miles from a large city, and even small settlements are sparse and scattered far.
You can see the small boat moored in the center of the Scottish lake. Below me, out of that shot's sight, a couple of fishermen were pulling herring in from the salt water. There was no one close to me by the shore of that Ontario lake. There was no sound of man, no cars, no lights, no boats. I had reached it by driving down a loose gravel road; at this point there were no paved roads, indeed no roads, whatsoever between me and the Arctic Ocean far to the North.
Ironically, in terms of latitude, I was much farther north in Scotland than my northernmost sally into Ontario, but that mattered far less than my relative position to large of groups of people. Ontario felt wild in a way that Scotland, for all its natural beauty and undeveloped landscape, could not.
Moving so far from the human crowd gave me a profound sense of peacefulness that I have never experienced elsewhere. The closest I had come before was our other Canadian vacation in northern Quebec two years earlier. Now, whether this feeling would last were I truly isolated is debatable. After all, a drive back down that gravel road took me back to my family in the small resort complex outside of Jellicoe. It is easier to feel alone when you know you are not going to be forever so.
But the ease with which I could, in essence, disappear into those Ontario forests was intoxicating. It clearly speaks to that part of myself that desires solitude without interruption. That's only one aspect of what I seek from life, but I had not clearly identified it until that warm, biting-insect infested, evening.
If has taken 50 years to clarify such a feeling, I wonder what else time is going to bring me as I age?