My Recurring Nightmare

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather
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Do you have a recurring nightmare? One of those nightmares that often
reflects something that you dread in real life? Like the one where
you’re late for an exam and you get there just as it’s over and you fail
the year … or the one where you have to speak in front of a huge
audience and you forget your speech, or you’re naked. Or maybe there’s a
creepy-looking troll from that Hansel and Gretel book you had as a kid
and he comes and puts his stool down beside your bed and you start
screaming your head off for your parents but nothing comes out of your
mouth? No wait, that was mine when I was 7.

I have a couple of recurring nightmares. One is that I’m back living
in suburbia. I could tolerate it when I was there, and it was easy to
make money there, but I don’t want to go back. The second nightmare
involves someone building a house right next to ours.

We are surrounded by forest. Thousands of acres of bush. Our nearest
neighbors Ken and Alyce are about 3 miles to the east, and the Kouris
are 5 miles to the west. During deer hunting season in November some of
the closer hunt camps are occupied, but it only lasts for 2 weeks and
then we are alone again.

It really is an amazing place. It’s about a 45 minutes to the
fantastic city of Kingston, yet it’s like living in the middle of
Algonquin Park. If I got lost walking in our woods (which I’ve blogged about previously) I can walk a long, long way before I hit any road.

So for the last 14 years we’ve become pretty acclimatized to this peace and quiet and solitude.

In my nightmare, someone has bought property right across the road
from us (we don’t own that property) and they are cutting down every
tree to build a monster home. There are bulldozers and construction
crews and noise and smoke and chaos and our solitude is shattered for

I certainly couldn’t prevent anyone from building on the opposite
side of our road. But we do have one ace in our pocket… we’re off-grid.
Even though the technology has come a long way, most people just don’t
want that hassle and the limitations of living off grid. They want to
turn on air conditioners and dryers and not worry about whether or not
they’ve got enough juice to power them.

The best-case scenario is that they would try and live with a small
footprint like we do. The worst-case scenario is they would run a loud
generator 24 hours a day, but after we hit peak oil in 2005, this option
becomes increasingly uneconomical.

But even still, I continue to have this nightmare, about once a month.

On a recent morning I was in the garden early because we’re in the
midst of another heat wave. The birds were singing. The loons on Sixth
Depot Lake were calling. It was pretty amazing.

I heard a truck and trailer with heavy equipment rumble by which is
not uncommon. Then I heard the “beep beep beep” of a truck backing up,
but I tuned it out. I assumed someone was turning around. But the noise
continued. I thought maybe the township was dropping off equipment to
work on the road. So I went to investigate. Michelle was already out on
the road watching.

And just like in the nightmare, it was really happening. A bulldozer
was being unloaded in the driveway 200 metres from ours. An elderly
couple owns the property but their adult kids use it once in a while.
And now it looked like they were going to start building. Maybe a
condominium. Maybe an airstrip. Probably a monster house with a huge
deck and they’ll host loud parties every weekend. Holy crap. Is this
really happening? This sucks.

Luckily I recognized the dump truck that had pulled the trailer and
bulldozer, so we walked over to talk to the driver. It turned out that
they were just working on the laneway. It had become overgrown over the
years and so it was time to clean it out, dump some gravel and make it
more usable.

Talk about a sigh of relief! Once I saw the heavy equipment in there, this was the best possible outcome.

I will admit though I was a little more resigned to the situation as
it unfolded than I thought I would be. More of a “well, what’s going to
happen will happen.” I realize I can’t always be in control of events.
Michelle’s cancer proved that to us. You just need to go with the flow
sometimes. The universe has a grand plan and at a certain point, you’re
pretty inconsequential in what you can do.

That’s not to say I don’t try and influence how my universe unfolds.
But I think I’m a little more resigned to events having a trajectory of
their own which I must sometimes accept. In the country neighbors can be
pretty important. Maybe this would be a good thing. Heaven knows we
depend on Ken and Alyce a lot. Having someone even closer might be a
good thing.

In the meantime, I shall fear sleep each night as the condominium
development or creepy troll nightmare lurks in the Twilight Zone of my
unconscious. And tomorrow as Michelle and enjoy our morning cup of
coffee on our front porch, looking at the thousands of acres of
undeveloped, natural forests, with only the sounds of nature, I will be
deeply grateful to have ended up in this fabulous place at this amazing
time. It won’t last like this forever, but right here, right now, it’s
pretty awesome!

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