Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Nice Things

Walk with me. I need to share something that has been bugging me.

First stop, the bedroom window:

On the “to do” list – replace the screen filled with holes. Oh, those cute little kitties!

Now, let’s see what’s on the other side of the screen, shall we?

At the risk of being too cryptic, my theme today is damage, willful or otherwise. Of course the kittens aren’t intentionally wrecking the screen. The caterpillars and the wild canaries are enjoying a hearty meal, nothing more, and we have enough to share. Actually, I grew the dill for the wildlife it would attract rather than for any culinary purpose.

Let’s move on, shall we? Follow me to the park at Cobalt Lake – home of the ball diamond, splash pad, and tennis courts. The star attraction, in my humble opinion, is the mini-putt golf course. Each of the eighteen holes features a model of a historic Cobalt building or mining-related artifact. My neighbour, Jane Klaassen took the following images when she played a round of golf last year, and while walking past the year before.

You will note the weeds that have sprouted along the fairway. This golf course was looking tired. When we played earlier this year, besides the usual designed hazards, we had to contend with quack grass and other assorted foliage that made for unwanted challenges.

Fortunately, two Cobalters, Kyle and Mirianna, along with their children stepped up and spent several long hours reclaiming the greens.  This summer, they hauled out bags and bags of weeds and tidied up the site. The transformation was astonishing. Whenever Kyle had time to spare, he would open the course to the public.

Let me show you. Here are Jane’s before, and my after shots. Can you see the difference?

A week or so ago, I heard about the vandalism via social media. Apparently, unknown persons, under cover of darkness, found themselves compelled to climb the chain-link fence and trash the golf course. The park is not lit at night, but folks from the other side of the lake reported seeing flashlights dancing around near the mini-putt.

When I heard the news on Facebook, I used the “angry” emoticon to express my disgust. But it felt odd. An exaggeration. Since then, I’ve been thinking about vandals, and kids, and maturity and doing what comes naturally. I thought that my anger had softened. I was ready to take the “whaddya gonna do” stance. The “kids will be kids” position, like the kittens, they test the limits. Or like the birds and the caterpillars, they have an appetite and don’t consider their actions outside of satisfying it.

Today, I decided to finally pay a visit to the park to see the damage for myself. As I walked toward it, I realized I was holding my breath. But I let it out in one explosive, “The fuckers!” when I saw that all but two metal models were gone!

I learned from Mirianna that the situation wasn’t as dire as I had thought. Fortunately, the damage was limited to upturning the models. Later, authorities removed them out of harm’s way.

It’s hard to say, but if the buildings had been wrecked, I don’t think that the town could find the will, certainly not the financial resources to rebuild.

And what about Kyle and Mirianna? Will they be compelled to manage the course next summer? After all of that time and effort in the hot sun, only to have it trashed? How are they going to explain it to their children?

I don’t know that I could.

Categories: In Other News

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47 replies

  1. Every day, Maggie. Every damn freaking day. And I really started out enjoying our walk, too…..I am so sorry about this. I always wonder, perhaps delusionally, but where in the hell are the parents? Maybe I am wrong to assume it is some teenagers who didn’t make the ball team? “The fuckers” would have been my go-to phrase, also. Do they have security cameras?

    Liked by 1 person

    • At the moment, no security cameras. A committee has recently been struck to consider improvements to the park, including lighting. That will help, if and when funding is available.

      It is so hard NOT to take this damage personally – and I immediately go to “how can it be prevented?” Well, it can’t, not completely. But I do believe property damage can be limited if everyone steps up – that is, they take part in some way. Whether it’s helping maintain or build features, or encouraging others to visit and use them, or to keep watch. It will encourage a sense of ownership and pride.

      I’m glad that you have a potty mouth like me, Lois. 😉


  2. Vandalism incenses me! Such a waste. I can understand thievery more than wanton destruction of property.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I hate most people 😦 Destroying things is just as senseless as killing somebody. Apparently people need to be taught a hobby, schooling or something to occupy themselves. Too much free time to think of stupid shit to do and ruin what isn’t theirs. It pisses me off to see this in my city and any others, the town of cobalt included!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I always think of you living in a small, quaint, spot- a place that would not be the scene of willful destruction by anyone, but perhaps that just shows how naive I am, or how much I wish to believe that there are still places where only good happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’ve been selective in what I’ve presented about our new area. As with any community, it is a blend of good and bad. Ours has had a fair share of difficulty and with it a trend to bitch and moan and complain. I strive to focus on the good stuff by way of reminder we have much to be proud of.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with all the above about the mindless, mean vandalism. 😦 The other photos are lovely, though. Well, not the screen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL – about the window- oh my word, the air was blue yesterday as hubby wrestled with the installation of the new aluminum screen – the spline, apparently was a mo-fo to install, you should excuse my potty mouth.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My idea of screen renewal has often involved darning with a sewing needle and black thread, or, in the event of hastily confounding a hornet trying to enter through the new summer-gash close to dead center in a child’s bedroom window, toothpaste. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked! Most husbands would put a contract out on my life, lol, but the mo-fo moments of home repair are why I do what I do — one of us HAS to avoid them!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice tour and thoughts, Maggie – until the end. I don’t care what the animals eat, well, in most cases, but there’s just no justification for vandalism. It bothers me now, and it always has.I only wish they could catch the people responsible and force them to pull every weed that sprouts next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Community works: a punishment to fit the crime.

      What I’d love to see is a program whereby the kids were actively recruited and involved early enough to develop a sense of pride and ownership in their community. It’s happening, bit by bit, but we have some way to go, obviously!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This reminds me of the popular phrase I hear so often … “and this is why we can’t have nice things” 😦

    Mindless vandalism baffles me. I just don’t get the thrill of purposeless destruction. Cochrane has been facing a similar problem all summer with gangs of kids trashing cars and breaking into garages during the night.

    You touched on it, and I too wonder how much of it is the lack of both parental guidance and the availability of appropriate activities for them to release all this pent-up energy and exuberance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My friend from Huntsville tells me there’s been an uptick in vandalism there, too. A sign of the times?

      You nailed it, Joanne. The phrase “this is why we can’t have nice things” ran through my mind the entire time I was writing this entry.

      You may have heard of the CBC program called “Still Standing” with Johnny Harris – a stand-up comedian who tours the country to profile the small, all-but-ghost towns. The cast and crew were to Cobalt this year. Ahead of their arrival, researchers called to gather information about what was available in the community. I took the call when I was working at the library – she had all the information she needed about the seniors programs, the mining heritage, and arts and culture. But what about the kids? What about the sports, after-school programs, youth clubs, and the like?

      Yes indeed, what about them? We have NONE.


  8. Well that’s just rotten, about the mini golf :/
    The first three photos are different — just critters doin what comes naturally. The vandalism, well, that’s intent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You see, before I actually saw the vandalism, I was prepared to say that the perps were also doing what comes naturally. A sort of academic response, an acceptance that this happens everywhere, has been for years – hundreds of years? – and will continue to happen.

      I don’t understand the drive to do it. And it infuriates me as if I took a direct hit.

      I hope that our community can actively recruit and involve kids early enough to develop a sense of pride and ownership in their town. It is happening – bird boxes around the lake at the park, a community garden was installed in town. It will take time.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Vandalism is weird to me. I cannot think of any reason why I’d do it– short of the need to survive. I mean the animals doing harm are surviving in their own ways, but the other is… well, stupid. Sorry this happened, hoping some good comes from it.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ugh..those buildings were/are adorable, such a shame to have to monitor for vandalism. It’s all about a lack of respect, for people, for things. What is lacking in these “children” ? I’m loving your pictures beyond the screen ! Dill…one of my favorites.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aren’t they great models? When the weeds were full grown, they masked a lot of the details – the one landmark building in the centre of the image is the (in)famous Fraser Hotel – the artist even painted the fire escape on the rear walls. I couldn’t get over that.

      I appreciate your choosing to write “children” in quotation marks. The day after the vandalism, the playing field was strewn with beer cans – and they had to clamber up and over an 8 or 10 foot chain link fence.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I feel your pain–not to mention my own. I planted 6 late lettuce plants. The damn wood pigeons tore up 5, not to eat but just for the hell of it. I wrapped the last one in barbed wire and put of gun emplacements. That kept the pigeons off, but the slugs ate the damned thing down to the ribs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Maggie, you need to post trigger warnings on your blog. Just say’n. 🙂

    Sad about the vandalism. When kids have too much unfocused energy, it all comes out sideways.


  13. Wonderful pictures . About the vandalism– I guess it happens all over . That window screen looks familiar ( our cat has holed ours too ) .

    Liked by 1 person

  14. 😦

    I think I may have invented a few new curse words on seeing the damage – I know I constructed some pretty long strings when I came across the destruction of my little landmark.

    Find the little fuc….er….disenfranchised youth responsible, and put ’em to community work. People feel pride in the things they have to sweat to accomplish…and if you’re sweating for your little slice of the Earth, you might just wanna take care of it.

    Can’t have nice things, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, you can’t have nice things. AT. ALL.

      What drives me nuts is that the vandals will get away with it – there are not enough resources to deal with meting out “justice” and even fewer funds to support the population so that it might not happen again. You know, decent programming, facilities, and whatever it would take to prevent further acts of destruction for the sake of entertainment.

      I second the emotion: 😦 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I grew up in a suburb of Detroit in the 1970’s when “Devil’s Night” was popular the night before Halloween. It was merely an excuse for soaping windows and breaking garage windows with rocks. I felt guilty with each rock I threw, enough to stop and simply watch my friends act so juvenile. I never forgot how badly I felt for engaging in such destructive behavior. One can only hope the juveniles in your neighborhood will someday also feel the same.

    Now, your kitty vandals? Gotta love them. 😉 – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marty – I hope so, too – I think I understand the mob mentality in cases like this. And the requirement for each member to go along for fear the mob would turn on those who resisted. There’s usually one leader who stirs up the rest. At least I hope that’s the case, and not that each member of the gang are equally bent on destruction for a few kicks!

      Meanwhile, back on the sofa, the older cats are not impressed with the heightened energy level these days. I love the kitten phase, but I’m also looking forward to quieter, more mature moments!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I don’t understand vandalism either. The jerks (ok, “fuckers”) were probably young and, being young – and obviously stupid, will probably confess their fuckery to someone (what’s the point in doing it in the first place if you can’t brag about it?). Hopefully they will be caught and maybe be made to fix it up again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! “What’s the point in doing it in the first place if you can’t brag about it?”

      You know, I considered NOT writing this post because of the focus it would bring to the vandalism – which is the main purpose of the act: to cause upset, to draw attention. If, by some long shot, one of the vandals is reading this comment, I don’t imagine his first reaction will be remorse or shame.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. No matter how hard you try, weeds are going to grow in the garden.


  18. Oh dear! Kids (? let’s hope…) do such stupid things.

    It reminds me of the town I grew up in. One year someone decided to steal the baby jesus from the nativity scene.

    Well guess what happened every year after that? Good grief.

    So finally the town had to put the nativity scene behind locked plexiglas, you can imagine the aesthetic improvement lol.

    I am very happy those adorable little buildings are still alive!

    Liked by 1 person

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