Some memories just linger.
Back in the late 90’s I was the editor of the then Ottawa Carleton Review in Manotick, a small village just south of Ottawa.
The town was surrounded by agricultural land on three sides.
This was my first few days on the job and most of the time I was terrified.
I was replacing a couple of excellent people who had moved on from the popular community newspaper and their knowledge of the area and the farming community as well as the geography of the region was unmatched.
I had a great deal to learn and no one to help me learn it.
I lived in Kemptville and used the recently completed $196 million Hwy. 416 to get to work every morning.
The two-lane, north and south highway was a boring, straight as an arrow 20-minute drive to Manotick. I decided I might as well start learning about the area I was supposed to work in and know all about.
I left Kemptville that morning determined to try out some different ways to get to Manotick using the back roads.
It was an incredibly foggy morning, not the best weather to try and navigate small country roads.
I used a side road to cross over the 416 and found myself on a small road headed toward the small village of Osgoode. It was so foggy I could not see the edges of the road and was on guard for deer that might choose that exact moment when I was passing them to dash across the road. I drove through Osgoode’s main street, there was only one, and ended up at an intersection so shrouded in mist that deciding which way to turn to get to Manotick, which I knew was somewhere north of Osgoode, was a problem.
Sensing that I could not make any kind of wise decision I decided to just stop.
I pulled over to the side of the road.
To my left was a forest barely seen through the fog. Behind and in front of me was the road with a visibility range of only a foot.
On my right was a farmer’s field. All I could see of the field was the point where two fence lines converged at the corner of the field.
I got out of my car and looked all around desperately hoping to see a sign that would send me in the right direction.
I was at that moment that, what I at first thought was a mystical event taking place.
I heard a loud voice boom out, “ARE YOU LOST?”
I looked around at the field to my right because that’s where the voice seemed to be coming from.
Out of the mist and coming right towards me were several large heads belonging to cows. I could not see their bodies just their heads as they came toward me.
Once more a voice boomed out, “I SAID ARE YOU LOST?”
The origin of the voice had to be coming from the cows. There was no one else around and the heads were now leaning over the fog shrouded fence staring at me.
For a terrifying moment I actually believed I was being given some help from a cow.
You had to be there to appreciate how real this moment was.
Then slowly moving behind the cows’ heads appeared a hat, and then a face.
He shouted at me, “CAN YOU UNDERSTAND ME, ARE YOU LOST?”
Covering up my confusion I simply said yes. I then said, “I am looking for the turn to Manotick.” The man, obviously a farmer rounding up his cows in the field, said, “turn your car around and go to the right you cannot miss it.”
I thanked the gentleman, and got back in my car and turned around. I could not help but glance at the cows all leaning towards me over the fence and I wondered if they were laughing or just shaking their heads in disbelief.
Welcome to rural Ontario.