|Subject: Of Cliff Dwellings and Cemeteries|
Interesting collectibles! Cliff dwellings are remarkable. Last
spring I had an unexpected opportunity to visit Roque St-Christophe
near Sarlat, France. It's the largest known cliff dwelling in the
world. Wow! We really enjoyed the tour (French with an English
handout). All I could think about, though, was how difficult it
would be for parents to keep their toddlers from falling out of the
I also enjoy small cemeteries. My Dad and I are inveterate explorers by car. We love to see what's around the next bend and what might be down that itty bitty road. One of our tricks is to find on a map a road or town we've never been to and that seems to be in the middle of nowhere.
One time that we did this stands out in my memory. Many years ago, we found a northern Ontario village on the map. Spence seemed very isolated -- in the middle of the bush with no significant roads through it. We headed off with a full car (kids, parents &my grandfather). The road toward Spence soon changed from two-lane pavement to two-lane dirt to one-lane rut. After many kilometers of bush (nothing but trees, marsh and mosquitoes), we stopped in the road (nowhere to pull over -- grass between the ruts) and had a look at a tiny cemetery. There were perhaps a dozen identified graves. From the dates and names we could read, it was clear that there had been a couple of family groups living in the area at one point. However, there were at least four or five members of one family who died within a few weeks of each other. There must have been some kind of epidemic go through the area. There was also the grave of a young woman and her newborn who had survived her childbirth death by only a few weeks -- as we surmised from the dates on the stone. I remember standing in the cemetery, a tiny clearing in the bush, looking at the wilderness about us and contemplating the fortitude of these families. I still wonder where they went, since there was no sign of current habitation. In fact, we drove on still looking for Spence. After a long time we came across cottagers walking along the road. When we asked them for directions to Spence, they looked puzzled. They claimed to have cottaged in the area for decades without ever having heard of the village of Spence. We drove on, but never did find Spence.
Other family members now use Spence as a codeword for, Where do you think you're going? Are you out of your mind? We're lost again! However, all my Dad and I need is a map and a vehicle before we look at each other and one of us breathes, Spence!
Janice Toronto, ON