Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

On The Shoulders of Giants

It's one of those days again, when the temperature dips so low that it seems almost unbelievable. Posts about horrifyingly cold wind chills fill my Facebook feed, and the dog wants inside moments after going out. Even the cat, who fancies himself a feline Houdini and tries to escape through open doors to change his "indoor cat" status to "outdoor", pauses when the door is opened, and trots away.

It is March in Fort McMurray, and it is bloody cold.

It is on days like today that I think about those people who founded this community, decades ago. I think about how over one hundred years ago people were living here, but without most of the modern conveniences that make this cold bearable. They burned coal and wood to keep warm, and they had no nice warm cars to climb into when they needed to go somewhere. They had no electric blankets to huddle under. They were living in one of the coldest places in the country, and while part of me wonders why the hell they ever stayed I can't help but admire their resiliency, and, as some would say, their "pluck".

I often sit in awe of the courage of those pioneers who settled this country, particularly the ones who came to places far north and lived through winters that could be deadly. I sit and whine on occasion about being cold or about my car being balky to start or the other inconveniences related to the cold, and when I do I try to stop myself and think about those who lived here one hundred years ago and dealt with the same temperatures. I think about how unless they had forged through, and kept on going, this community wouldn't be here today.

Recently at an event I attended someone spoke eloquently about the members of this community standing on the shoulders of giants, and I have never heard anything quite so beautiful or so true. This community was created by giants, those who forged through season after season, quietly building the community we now call home.

One of my favourite things to do is to look at historical photos of Fort McMurray, because this place has changed so very much. When I do I think about the past, about the pioneers of this community and about the shoulders of the giants upon which we stand today. And suddenly the deep freeze outdoors loses just a tiny bit of its chill, warmed by thoughts of days gone by and the shoulders of giants.

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