Cliffside Road


Wildlife Sanctuary No Hunting or Shooting. Don’t you just love that? These old signs are great. They’re from a former era. It wasn’t cool to go blasting off your gun around here because it’s Wildlife Sanctuary No Hunting or Shooting. But times change.

It’s long been my privilege to walk among the people of Cliffside Road. They are a nation unto themselves. That’s what I’d say if I had to give a speech or something and had previously, at some point in the past, finally had a chat, however brief, however fleeting, with some neighbour or other somewhere on Cliffside Road.

I shouldn’t make stuff up because actually it already happened. And the fewer opportunities you have, because there seems to be very few, and I’m pretty sure people like keeping it that way, because not bugging people unnecessarily is a real virtue, the greater the pleasure when you do score. And it’s always a pleasure.

It’s kind of like anywhere. You meet a great diversity of people and you never know what it’s going to take to meet your neighbour. Dead car. Snowstorm. Tree down. Raccoon wars. Happenstance is king and a helping hand lies close at hand and that’s a comforting thought out here especially when you don’t know the person. But now you do.

See how great it is? It’s just the start. There’s champagne socialists, Americans, gunslingers, joggers, pure laine Quebecers, rich people, not rich people, over-achievers, never-weres and loving it and people that take great pride in always being on time then don’t show up at all. That is really getting it done. People here are like people anywhere. Wonderful people. My parents had such hopes for me too.

They don’t call it Cliffside Road for nothing. How many times have I said that? I’m going to croak. Because the actual cliff is close by. And that is definitely a pretty sheer drop if you go south far enough off the road. It doesn’t matter if you’re home, trespassing, visiting or wandering around completely out of your mind.

If you go far enough you come to the edge. There’s the edge. There’s Boundary Pass out there. Edge. Boundary. It kind of all fits in your head with an understanding, if you’re lucky, that reality can also have some sort of finality to it. It’s all good if you’re careful and of course you are. It’s good to be careful anywhere. The drop-off isn’t as pronounced as you get towards East Point but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch your step.

It doesn’t change that much around here. What I mean is it can take a long time. The golf course and subdivision on the other side of the road east of the swamp there continues after many a year pretty much water-filled ditches and a dirt mud track winding through some of it and that’s okay. We were just having a look.

Whatever happens it’ll always be beautiful. It comes with the territory. The swamp is impressively large. To the student of bulrushes it’s truly an inspiring sight.

Cliffside Road is looking a little beat up these days. There’s a lot of patching that could be done by now if you can find the patches and people to lay them down, but as anyone knows, getting things done can be a real struggle. It takes time and hardly anybody even knows about this place, which doesn’t help. That must be what it’s about.

The patch people will be back some day though. You have to have hope and there’s scads of reasons for feeling hopeful. The help has showed up for Cliffside Road before and it’ll happen again. It’s destiny. Statistically it’s a certainty. When you put it like that there’s really no cause for concern.  Until the day comes you can make a game of it slaloming through the pot-holes.