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Sylvan – Where The World Began

Modeled after Margaret Laurence s essay, Where The World Began

A quaint little place it is, that place where the world began. A place in the middle of nowhere, unknown to most, treasured only by a few. A place of quietude, not by any means warm or friendly, yet quite comfortable. A place where there is an understanding of independence and unity as well.

It is in fact a road made of packed down stones, along which there is one main crossroad requiring a stop sign. A battered old store, once prosperous selling all household necessities, sits on the corner, overcome with weeds and discarded tires and barrels. (Sylvan Bob, with his long unruly grey beard now insists on selling used books, on holidays and weekends.) Dirt roads branch out allowing access to the small, tidy farms. Some Dutch, and others not. There is a diminishing church – most of its congregants occupy the cemetery across the way, and a red shingled triangle house with a matching triangle garage. The scenery is incomparable yet ordinary, open patches of worked land between coniferous trees and bubbling creeks.

I suppose that our way of life is not so different from any others , yet it always did seem different…better in some way. I felt a sadness for those who were so unfortunate as to not have the opportunity to live in such a wonderful place. In summer, my days would be spent outside, soaking up the warm sun s rays as I gardened, cut the grass or biked up and down our road. The days I gathered eggs in our barn, with the chickens squawking and flopping about, always would be scorching hot. Late afternoons were spent sitting on the porch, listening to dad and our neighbour Base, as they identified the world s flaws and provided solutions on what could be done, while they sipped their refreshments. The two of them seemed to have everything figured out, and I think it was from moments like those that I learned how precious life is. It mustn t be wasted with worries; a carefree attitude is the only way to live. However Base could only stay so long, then he had to get home, before his wife came looking for him.

In winter, the cold weather would often arrive without the fluffy white stuff, which everyone seemed to hate, but which I loved. It was well known that my family longed for snow, and when it came, we would soon be out snowmobiling the days away, like there was no tomorrow. Of course the snow did make everyday chores more difficult to complete, but we didn t mind a bit.

Spring brought the calving season into full swing, and there would be some hardships, as in everyone of life s paths, but mostly joy – whenever a little calf decided to make an appearance. Many quick trips were made from the barn to the house, or the house to the barn, fetching this or that, calling the vet when necessary. We were not the best farmers – but we didn t fall short for the amount of effort.

This place is anything but dull, I would have to say. It is always joked about – I live a big place called Sylvan, population 40 persons – yet it is done in a most proud manner. This is a place which has strong, family roots, which go very deep. I feel as if I belong to this place, and it belongs to me. I am a special person because past generations of Furtneys have worked this land, ridden this road, and lived in this house, (or parts of this same house). This is the place where I learned to have a sense of pride.

This place was my first and remains to be my only real knowledge of this planet. When I was a child, I remember thinking that every child s grandma must be named Margaret, alas, it just so happened that both of mine had this name. Over the years, I have learned that other people do not live the same as I do, and that our lives are in fact quite different. However, it seems the more I experience the other ways of life in our world,.. the more I think that Sylvan, the place where my world began, will always be the only way of life for me. The opinion I have formed, about what life should really be like, is formed after the place where my world began.

Carla Furtney

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