To the Editor:

So, the other day, I’m out on the road doing my regular exercise and it’s not going well. It’s hard and I’m sore but that’s just the usual. It’s more just…..everything. There’s a cold, cold wind blowing in my face. Every now and then, like a personal insult, I’m hit with a spray of sleet. The sky is low and dark grey. The fields are bare. Winter is remorselessly coming on. We have not yet stopped this stupid cement plant. The pandemic seems to just go on and on. Our big happy family get together might not happen again this year. Most of what I hear, see or read is still more bad news or more scandal or another disaster. And nobody seems to care. Just everything seems to be piling up in a big, endless, miserable, depressing heap. My thoughts were dark, and my morale was in the garbage can. I was definitely not having a good day.

So, I’m out there, head down, and I hear a car coming up behind me and it’s slowing down. And as it slowly rolls past me, I can see the driver. Don’t know who he was. Never saw him before in my life. But he was giving me a big thumbs up and with a huge smile on his face. And the lady sitting beside him was looking at me, clapping and smiling too. They were encouraging me. Complete strangers, didn’t know me at all, but they could see I was struggling and under bad conditions and they were doing the little bit that they could to help. Not two minutes later, another car, coming towards me this time, slows down as well and I hear the driver give a couple of short beeps on his horn. As he rolled past, he too was giving me a big thumbs up and a big grin. Holy smokes! People cared!

After every December the 21, including this one, the days start to get longer. Not by a lot, it’s true, but it is a sure sign we’ve turned the corner and have started the long climb back to the warm bright spring. Yes, it’s a long climb and not easy but we have done it before, and we are doing it again. Right now. And those low, dark grey clouds? I happen to know for a fact and from experience that just above them, every day including this one, there is a brilliant blue sky with a beautiful yellow sun beaming down. And they are there all the time, clouds be damned.

If enough people sign the petition put forward by Mr. Malakos ( ) this cement plant disaster will have to be debated in the House of Commons.  And we still have the six months until the provincial election to convince Premier Ford this monster cement plant is a bad idea.

This pandemic will end. We don’t know when, but it will. They all do and this one is no different. And even if it does not feel much like victory yet, we have started to turn things around. Remember how scary it was back when this thing started? Our seniors are far better protected now, we are all now mostly vaccinated and new and even better vaccines are in the works. Tough times? You bet, but we are going to beat this.

And the relentless string of bad news? How about our man Joey Desjardins doing us proud at the Paralympics? How about Christopher Gascon, that brave guy who jumped into the freezing Ottawa River to save a drowning man? How about all those people who organized and took part in the Santa Clause parade and collected tons of food for the Food Bank? How about all those people at the grocery store who unfailingly show up for work and allow us to keep putting food on our tables? And how about all the tired but determined nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers and firefighters (local people, our people) who stand ready at any time, including right now, to step forward and help us when we need them? All bad news? I don’t think so.

Slogging along that road, those complete strangers who slowed down to encourage me were just ordinary folks trying to help me out. And they did. The cold wind, the dark grey sky, the stinging sleet in the face? They couldn’t fool me. I knew that up above me right then, even if I could not see them, were a brilliant blue sky and a bright yellow sun. I knew that each day that passes is a step closer to spring.

That hope, and hard work, can indeed make a difference and that we have some truly amazing people living amongst us. Perhaps you’re one of them.

All the very best and a very Merry Christmas,

Colin Affleck
Champlain Township