Perhaps you have noticed that views from my porch are not appearing as regularly in the online and print versions of The Madawaska Valley Current these days. The publishers tell me that a number of readers have been inquiring, and I am well aware of folks’ proclivity to, in the absence of an explanation, speculate and draw erroneous conclusions. So, it is best to get information from the horse’s mouth (or the “horse’s arse” if you haven’t been a fan of my writing).
This is my last Porch Views column.
What it’s not
It’s not the weather, although it is far too cold and icy to sit on the porch these days and I am spending most of my weekends shovelling snow rather than writing. It’s not connected to my recent collision with a deer, but the prevalence of these creatures along the highway at dawn and dusk has necessitated a change in vehicle and travel patterns. I have not been threatened with assault or legal action. I have not been diagnosed with an illness. And, I have not had a falling-out with Roger and Danielle Paul.
What it is
For three years, I have been considering when to start the next phase of my life and how to spend it. My age and service years added up to the magic number two Novembers ago, so, if I want, I can pull the chute anytime. Meanwhile, I watch retired family members, friends and former colleagues, and sample activities in which I might want to engage when retired.
My observations have revealed a wide range of retirement behaviours: travelling, returning to rural roots, working part-time, taking on new jobs, volunteering, and pursuing hobbies or interests. I have also explored a number of potential retirement pursuits including writing Porch Views. All of these experiences have been enjoyable and I have learned a lot from them. Most importantly, I have realized that I am the sole author of the next phase, and I have discerned what is really important to me. So, until I retire, I will be using my free time to research the history of Germans in Renfrew County, and, once I do retire, that will become my major project.
Shown at top and inset: Mark (right) met Peter Hessel in July 2019. Hessel is the author of Destination Ottawa Valley (1984) a history of German immigration to the Ottawa Valley. Inset (top) an old sign from the Petawawa Research Forest. Several German families farmed that land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. St. John’s United Church in Golden Lake (bottom left) was one of the first Evangelical Association churches established among German settlers in Renfrew County. Photos Mark Woermke
Thanks to The Current
Thanks to Roger and Danielle Paul for taking me on as a columnist in their endeavour. Writing Porch Views was a positive experience. I enjoyed writing about people, events, history and even municipal politics. Porch Views helped me develop my writing skills, and it helped me zero in on the kind of research and writing to which I want to dedicate myself.
I support the Pauls’ goal of providing an alternative source for news and opinions on community growth, community affairs, arts and culture. In particular, I encourage them and their contributors to continue demanding accountability and transparency from all levels of government on behalf of the citizens of the Madawaska Valley. Like other readers, I am looking forward to The Current’s incisive coverage of the many critical issues affecting the community and the exploration of human-interest stories just waiting to be told.
If you were a regular reader of Porch Views, I am grateful for your interest. I plan to continue researching and writing, so it is possible you will see my work again sometime in The Current or other Renfrew County publications. Danielle and I jokingly referred to this final column as the “auf Wiedersehen piece,” but it seems appropriate — until we meet again.
Besides, how could I resist a quote from a Broadway musical?
“So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu!
Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you!”
Publisher’s note: On behalf of Danielle and myself, and the many readers who have reached out to say how much they have enjoyed your Porch Views column and other pieces in The Current, we thank you, Mark, for sharing your insight and deep love of the Valley and its residents in your writing. Good luck and au revoir!
I just discovered your column in time for “auf wiedersehen”. We moved to the Valley almost 40 years ago from Pa. German country in Southern Ontario. One question we were asked more than once was “will you have to learn French?” At that time I checked with the Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce and found that German, at 24% of the population cane in second after the English with French following at around 21%. So, machs gut und forgesen uns nicht, schreib vieder!
I enjoyed all your articles, and will look forward to following you on your next chapter!
Mark, I’m so sorry to see the end of Porch Views. You helped me learn about my new community after I retired and relocated here three years ago. I’m excited for you as you head into this new phase of life – I can say that I highly recommend retirement! Enjoy every minute of it, but I hope you’ll occasionally treat us to more of your excellent writing skills!
Booo hissss!!! We going to miss your humour and fantastic writing! You WILL be able to write the odd column once you’ve retired tho’….right?!?!?
Sorry to see you go but hopefully, when you retire, we will be able to read your column again. Good luck and retirement is just wonderful!
Mark….you are an incredible writer and I thank you for sharing your views from the Porch. Can’t wait to hear/see and maybe even share a bit of what comes next in your life!
I will miss your articles but can’t wait to keep up with your research on Germans in Renfrew County.