I had meant to be at Heartroot for sunrise the other morning, but it took me 45 minutes to get off the island of Montreal. First the bridge was blocked, then one after another alternate route…. I was relieved when I finally got back to Highway 10 and on the road home.
There is an invisible line that one passes on the way to the Farm, where all of a sudden the energy shifts and The City loses its magnetic pull. I was enjoying the sensation of freedom and lightness – literally, actually. As much as I had loved driving in the dark, with no streetlights, only twinkling villages in the distance, the paling of the night unveiled the land in its twilight autumn beauty….
A herd of more than two dozen deer grazed in a misty field, thirty feet away as I slowed the vehicle and inhaled the experience. Itadakimasu: “I receive” – a gift…a welcome home.
The sun slid over the mountains into the eastern sky as I approached the outskirts of Lac-Mégantic, changing quickly from pin-point ember to fiery sphere. In the worst climatic
conditions, the view over the lake and mountains as you enter Megantic catches the eye – this morning it snatched away my breath.
I wonder now how many other eyes were watching the sunrise this morning – how many were pierced, this morning and evermore, by the memory of other, more deadly, balls of fire in the same sky.
This morning though, there seemed a blanket of Grace over Megantic – something had changed. I had a shmaltzy, fuzzy feeling, as if this were indeed a new day, a new beginning for the beleaguered town. But I’d only been away 2 weeks – how much could really have changed? I dissuaded myself from indulging in too much optimism, but decided to take the fresh, wide stretch of tarmac as far as it now went.
Amidst the shock and the horror, there had been much optimism in the wake of the explosions last year. (People in the area have chosen individually what to call the events: The Tragedy, The Catastrophe, The Disaster…What Happened …. It is still so hard to find words to adequately wrap around and give form to the experience.) It seemed as if Megantic was getting a chance to recreate itself – it could become a leader in green industry, moving away from the degradation of primary resources – the forests, lakes and rivers. It seemed as well that people were understanding the importance of the arts, at least of music, in the healing of trauma and the gathering together of the community.
This land was a forgotten corner of the planet until 15 months ago – the Ladakh of Quebec. Like so many other places of peculiar power, the earth here is full of granite, which in certain configurations becomes an accumulator of what is referred to by some as Zero Point energy, and crystal, which broadcasts that energy to the world. Seers, healers and artists and other forms of sensitives abound, some of them called from elsewhere, some of them home-grown products of this crystalline land. In the 27 years I have now been in this area, I have been told by the most unlikely people about their visions (I can’t begin to count the number of people who have told me about apparitions of Jesus or Mother Mary) or their specific healing abilities, such as taking away burning (enlever le feu) or speaking to the dead. Particularly passed on through blood-lines, entire families sometimes manifest second sight and healing gifts. Most of them stay veeery quiet about their abilities, only using them if asked. The explosions of July last year brought out many aspects of this special community of souls – faith in a higher Source was one of them.
The church steeple caught the rising sun as I approached, drawing the eye toward a jagged mountain of earth just to the right of it. As perspective resolved itself with proximity, I saw the mountain was within the ‘disaster zone” – laid like a film set in front of a fence that separated it from the big new parking lot, considerately placed for the tourists who had previously been blocking roads and pestering the local population.
At just after 7 in the morning there were already people out strolling the strip mall that replaced downtown Megantic – I was surprised at the numbers, and at the cars lining the street already – were there apartments above the new stores? It has never occurred to me that people would actually be living there…somehow, I had thought of the whole new development as temporary….until we could get our old downtown back.
The road continued, and I could see that access was still blocked into the former town centre, but there was more movement in the area, and changes that my brain could not register. Ah – there was the new MusiCafé, looking aaaaaalmost ready to open. Yannick has had such a struggle rebuilding – the latest news I had read was that the municipal development police (my term, not theirs) was enforcing a rule (who the hell makes these things up?) that all the buildings in the strip mall had to look the same and the exteriors be covered in wood. After having one’s business explode in flames, I could understand someone wanting to make their new place in metal…no? By the look of things, Yannick had been forced to cede to the Aesthetic Laws – MusiCafé was now distinct only in its location, set apart from the mall’s strip of anonymity, across the road and close to the river.
Oh my! Stopped at the intersection by MusiCafé, I saw that I could actually turn right and keep going over a new bridge, to the other side of Megantic. I can’t properly communicate to you what this felt like. I had no idea that this was the plan, and had heard so many different versions of the projected work by word-of-mouth. Megantic had been split apart for more than a year, a physical representation of the shattered community. I drove over the bridge in shock – to be even more startled by the huge new Metro Plus store and parking area immediately on the other side. Employees were stacking pumpkins for an outdoor display, but what seemed strange was the swarm of security guards, everywhere. At every entrance to the parking lot and the building, one or two uniformed rent-a-cops were stationed, looking alert and nervous. They scrutinized me as I drove around the building. Nobody smiled back.
I drove on to Heartroot, a few minutes more up the mountains, through the steam rising from the sun-warmed earth…Home.