This blog begins where my first book ends. Now that Lakeland: Journeys into the Soul of Canada has moved off my desk and into the world, like a child who has grown and gone, I am freer to roam. I am unsure where this new leg of the Great Journey will end, but it feels good to be moving. The course of this data river we call the internet remains blessedly uncharted, and it goes like hell.
In part, the title of this first entry refers to me. I am reluctant to admit that. Rueful, even. But facts are facts. At 45, I was what you might call a veteran journalist before I finally rolled up sleeves and started writing a book. Oh well. Charles Bukowski was even slower out of the gate, and look what fun he had. Anyway, why give in to regret? When I was younger, I just wasn’t ready to say anything that didn’t fit into a 3,000 word magazine article. Besides, I was busy. Busy watching my kids grow from seed, learning to paddle a canoe really elegantly, daydreaming along trails with my dog, Shadow . . . . Then Lakeland came along and everything changed. I don’t know if I really wrote my first book, or it wrote me. It swept into my life like a force of nature and took me along.
More prosaically, the title also reflects the slow arrival of this blog itself. As a professional writer, one feels pressure to participate in this venue. I get asked a lot if I have a blog. Most recently I was coming out of the bathroom down at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and ran into my old high school friend, Keith Fortowsky. He wanted to know if I had a blog like his other naturalist-writer friend, Trevor Herriot. I think very highly of Trevor’s work and am pleased if someone compares me to him. If he was blogging, then I better get started too. I owe both of them a thanks for the inspiration to start, come what may.
For you technologues, I wish to state that I have often been an early adopter of technology. In the mid-eighties I had a first-generation laptop that cost nearly $3,000, weighed as many grams, and a Compuserve account that brought me the world at 2400 baud. When desktop publishing bashed in the doors of design orthodoxy, I was there with my Apple MacIntosh and QuarkXPress, version 3.0. Oh yes, I’ve watched c-beams glitter in dark near the Tannhauser Gate . . . .
This will be my place to gather many threads and see if we can braid them into strong rope. In the course of researching Lakeland I have met many fascinating people doing a lot of good work for the biosphere — more than I could fit in one book. Though far flung from one another, these folks are often working toward very similar kinds of ecological stewardship goals. My main task will be to highlight their work here, and I hope this will serve to connect them to each other, to you and to me.
I’m also wish to explore further an idea which I call citizen-science in the book. Look for more on that very soon. There will be some news about Lakeland, the book, and about Lakeland, the beleaguered-but-still-beautiful rural municipality in Saskatchewan from which I borrowed the book’s title. In both cases, I hope there will be good news. And, very occasionally, probably late at night or early in the morning, I might address the role of the writer in society.
I confess I am a little afraid to hit that orange “Publish Post” button below, to zing this out into the world without the sober-second-thought machinery of an editorial core. But anyway . . .