It used to be, we sometimes like to pretend, that there were vast stretches of time where nothing happened. On this little Isle, especially, we imagine a time when life was not so hurried and there wasn't always an event or a special weekend of some kind.
Most lives through history have involved some or much struggle, including in Prince Edward Island. Perhaps we just perceive a simpler past, because the work from those days has already been done, the complicated relationships and responsibilities already resolved or forgotten.
Still last weekend, the weekend after Thanksgiving, on one road, in one small community in P.E.I., South Melville, the days did have the feeling of well, just a weekend, were just regular things happen, like farm machinery maintenance, deck repair, lots of fresh vegetables, and time to marvel at an enormous orange harvest moon. Fishing, farming, tourism, and that annual chapter of Spring/Summer/Fall work had all seem to come to an end.
These pauses in our mortal journeys, real or otherwise, can have the effect of revealing previously unnoticed details. The small becomes enormous, and the enormous becomes small. These shifting sands of what matters was brought home to me last Saturday when number one son, four year old Louis Romero, who is rapidly becoming less small himself, handed me a old, splinter-rich, wooden board.
The board's purpose was to re-enforce a small portion of our deck, which was beginning to rot. Wrapped around one end of the board was a sheet of paper, held in place by a metre or two of gnarled duct tape which had been furiously applied by Louis to keep the piece of paper firmly in place.
“What's this piece of paper on the board, for?”, I inquired.
“So that the sharp pieces don't cut you, Papa”, was the answer.
Charming to a father, no doubt, and perhaps to others.
But here is what really made time stop, theory of relativity, and all that: The piece of paper he had collected was an old reading from his Mother's university days (a simpler time to be sure!) which had been languishing in a pile of scrap paper. Printed on the page was the following text:
“In the course of the last four months it has been made probable...that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated.
“Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.
“This new phenomenon would lead to the construction of bombs.”
This ominous passage was written in late 1939 by Albert Einstein and mailed to then President Franklin Roosevelt. It is often credited with starting a sequence of events that ensured the Allies made the atom bomb before the Germans. Powerful piece of writing when you think about it. It may have saved the West from nuclear destruction, and nearly 75 years later, it saved Papa's hammer hand from the sharp pieces.
An uneventful weekend? Perhaps.
- Campbell Webster is a writer and producer of entertainment events. He can be reached at email@example.com