Get back what we put in

By Joan Barton

The essential difference between living in a rural community and an urban centre is that if you are going to make it work you can’t just live in a rural community, you join it. Cities provide endless rewarding ways to spend our time without making any kind of commitment, going to restaurants, shops, events, theatres, galleries, courses and so forth. We go, enjoy ourselves and go on to the next bright thing. COVID, of course, put an end to most of that over the last two years. But I hear from my friends to the south that the city is waking up again, and joy may return to city life this summer.

COVID took our joy away too during the past two years, but it won’t just “come back “ to us the way it does in the city. Here, joy comes from what we do together. Our festivals and events and shows and dinners are home made. We have to make it come back.
Every single community group that I know of needs help this spring. Not just financial help, people help. For two years they’ve been frozen in place, no way to bring in new members or new ideas as old members age and struggle to keep the home fires burning. Now they have to start all over again.
So, let’s think about what brought joy to our lives two years ago before it all went sideways. What it is that brought you here, and kept you here? Is it the beauty of our natural world around us? The lakes, the bush, the wildlife? Is it the warmth of the community? The gatherings, the dinners, the camaraderie at the curling club, the Legion, the quilting group, the book club? Is it the celebrations, the fairs, the festivals, the music nights, the shows? Is it the good feeling that comes from helping people you know, after reading with a child, or filling a shift at a food bank, or bringing someone home from a medical appointment?

These things, even in our natural world, are things that we have to take care of ourselves. The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, the Friends of the Rail Trail, the Haliburton Highlands Outdoor Association’s are examples of the groups who continue to work to preserve the beauty of this place for all of us. Other groups work to preserve the warmth of our community for us, like our Fair Boards, our Funraising groups for youth, our local theatre, museums, the Folk society, etc. They are still here, and still trying to bring us together to keep our home the way we want it, warm, safe, joyful. But they can’t do that without you, because they, at the end of the day, are made of us.

So pick what you really love about this place. And make a call. And join in. Because that’s why you’re here, in the first place.

Submitted by By Joan Barton
This is a monthly column, providing a spotlight and the happenings in Highlands East.