A farewell photo album

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When a reporter writes a goodbye column, two things are mandatory: being self-aware about the difficulty of writing said column and using the word “bittersweet” at least once.

Now that I’ve done both, I could use the next 500 words to list all the times I misspelled Lake Kashagawigamog.

Instead, I’ll write about the things I won’t remember about Haliburton County and the many, many things I will.

I won’t remember the spotty cell service or the choice of language each Highlands pothole – and the bill for my car’s suspension – provoked, nor many council meetings or provincial funding announcements.

I’ve heard memory described as a camera.

Where you focus determines what your mind captures; what rattles around in your mental film canisters for decades.

I can peer through my mental viewfinder at Salerno Lake, watching a photographer’s eyes light up as he sees his new friend, a loon, that’s arrived for the summer.

“Click” goes the shutter.

Whether it’s reporting on Turtle Guardians tipping a Tupperware of younglings into Head Lake or peering up at hawks and songbirds at sunrise with the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, I’ve been lucky enough to snap photos, both literal and figurative, of so many people who have sparked my own fascination and increasing reverence for flora and fauna.

My mental memory card has lots on the arts community.

Haliburton County is rich in creative talent. I’ll remember pain and joy reverberating from the Highlands Opera Studio’s Eugene Onegin. I still hear parents and loved ones whoop and cheer watching the last performance of the Haliburton Dance Academy or Camexicanus’ School of Rock.

I’ll remember a painter’s brushstrokes dancing across a canvas, silenced by the roar of the Gull River, and Glebe Park sculptures emerging from the mist as if they were sentinels of the forest.

I believe the health of Haliburton County is dependent on a thriving and supported arts community.

I’ve many a mental picture of the “do” people. Haliburton County is built by passionate people from Irondale to Cardiff to Dorset. The belief so many Highlanders have in their own community took the edge off cynicism, which began to harden after a difficult few years of COVID-19 (and too much time reading Facebook comments from the “say” people).

But in my pictures of Haliburton County, both brokenness and beauty fill the frame.

Near multi-million-dollar cottages, families spend winters with the heat cranked low and sparse cupboards.

Anger over short-term rentals and shoreline bylaws spills off keyboards and bounces off internet towers that spark anger too. Patients drive hours for medical procedures or wait years to find a family doctor. The community’s economy creaks under the strain of staff shortages and an aging workforce.

I count myself lucky to have met so many passionate defenders and advocates of this place who are fighting for its future. I was lucky to work with so many, too.

Working for The Highlander has been the best job I’ve ever had. I’ll be exploring my passions in art for a little bit, before seeing what other adventures I can get up to before I feel like settling down.

But since I’m leaving, I can let you in on a secret: The Highlander is biased. The best community newspapers always are. This publication unapologetically stands with Haliburton County and its communities, wildlife, people and stories.

It’s been an honour to be part of that mission. “Click.”