Read My Book: Brenda Schmidt on Grid
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Sunday, December 1, 2013
Filed under: Read My Book
The beauty of forest and lakes surrounds me. You’ll find this in the poems in Grid. My house sits on top of the rock of the Canadian Shield in Creighton, a mining town in northern Saskatchewan. I live 1000 metres away from the south wall of the tailings pond. You’ll find this in my poems as well.
Who would live that close to a tailings pond? I live here by choice. My way of life depends on a resource-based industry that mines and produces copper, zinc, gold and silver. Your way of life depends on it, too. Zinc keeps your car from corroding, your roof from leaking, your skin from burning, your baby’s bum from turning red. The 9000 pounds of copper wire in the 747 that takes you to Mexico is thanks to the environment-altering efforts of people like those who live here. I live with one of those people.
A former nurse, I’m a long-time naturalist and birdwatcher. So is my partner, Harvey. We travel down the roads in our rust-free, fuel-efficient car, burning fuel nonetheless, and use a GPS to mark the locations of warblers. The observations reported by birdwatchers like us are studied by scientists. I note a newly logged-out area in my notebook. I look at the paper. I look at the place where the trees used to be.
Like you, I am both participant and witness. I am part of the problem and perhaps part of the hope for solutions. I feel it’s my responsibility to look closely at everything and document the experience.
I remember one afternoon we had stopped in the city to pick up some lunch at the deli. I was waiting in the car. I watched people texting as they headed into the store and wondered, like I often do, about what it means to be rural in an increasingly urban, high-tech society. Then the sky darkened. Someone was fighting with the coin-slot on a shopping cart when it began to hail. Was that you? Well I want you to know I saw your struggle. You’re part of a bigger story. And you’re now on page 17 of Grid.