The Siksika Nation chose not to renew the Lease for Hidden Valley. Insurance companies will likely refuse to compensate cabin owners for loss from the overland flooding of the Mighty Bow River in Alberta. Provincial and Federal Governments might choose to provide Disaster Assistance to some who lost their primary residence. The result: the majority of people at Hidden Valley will have to walk away with nothing to show for years and years of pioneer like effort. With the stroke of a pen, the people in power will finish the destruction of a Community. None of them will think to ask what was, in years gone by, perhaps the most important question, “What is the value of a community?”
Unlike some of the people at Hidden Valley, my cabin is not my primary home. But like so many other people out there, Hidden Valley is the only community I really belong to. Yes, my principal residence is in a rural area that is high and dry (except for the hail and now – more rain), but I only know a handful of my neighbours and though we watch out for one another, we don’t socialize much. We just all happen to live in the same general area.
Hidden Valley was my Community. It was the place where I could chat with my neighbours over the tops of the dogwood and rose bush ‘fence’; meet for supper at the only restaurant for miles; discuss the state of the world with passers by while watching the river flow. It was where our family all gathered, where I watched my grandchildren pass from childhood to pre-teen. It was a little lending library that kept growing; hunting for lost golf balls in the dim light of late dusk. It was lying on the grass watching satellites and observing stars in the black of the night. It was little bush bunnies on the lawn and watching for snakes and rare frogs in the back water. Bonfires and s’mores and games of golf where you counted how many balls you lost in the river rather than how many strokes you took. (Okay, maybe I’m the only one that kept score that way…) It was where many of us chose to be after a lifetime of working and saving.
The first ‘on the ground’ photos of our community are now being posted thanks to the opportunity yesterday to see the destruction from inside the safety of a bus. (Many thanks to the Siksika Nation for making this possible.) Although I wasn’t able to be there, I’d like to thank Chelsey for letting me post her photo.
Some of the houses, like the one that once graced this lot, are gone. All that is left is the litter – and the headboard of a bed stuck in the mud. Think about that. That was someone’s bed. That bed was once in someone’s house. That house was once in a Community – a community that is now gone. We didn’t even get to say good-bye…
Just over a year ago, I posted this video about my province – Alberta. I watched it again today, and it lifted my spirits while breaking my heart. My Alberta, but with Our Community gone.