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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the former publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at jcumming@fortfrances.com

Spring gives sense of motivation

That first blush of spring is a season for renewal.

The buds on trees in my yard have begun expanding. My day lilies are pushing their shoots through the frozen earth and appearing above the last of the snow in my yard.

Five months of winter has left the yard dirty. I began my clean-up removing all the Christmas lights that were wound about my green shrubs.

Fortunately, they all were still working, which will be a treat come fall.

On Saturday, I cleaned my outside windows. One doesn’t expect the water dripping down the windows to be grey but it was.

Spring already has started

The outside temperature read 11 degrees C on Sunday and the forecast for the remainder of the week is calling for continued mild weather.

The snow is melting rapidly and rivers of water are now flowing along the streets into the storm sewer drains. The water is making its way to the river and ditches are filling around the community.

Some of the creeks already are flowing after only a few days of warmth.

Spring seems to be well on its way.

Quite a cycle of renewal

I began thinking about how long I’ve been a swimming official while at the Dryden pool complex on Saturday morning.

When my eldest son was eight, I agreed to take a timing course to assist at a swim meet in Fort Frances.

Later that year, he was attending a swim meet in Dryden and I was standing in the mezzanine of the Dryden pool looking down on the lanes. That morning, my son had one swim that lasted 45 seconds.

I was bored.

No longer envious of U.S.-style politics

American politics are brutal. Just watching the U.S. primaries and debates play out on TV, our own brand of politics is so much more civilized.

At one time in my life, I often envied the U.S. style of politics in the way that U.S. politicians responded to the needs of their local constituents.

As I thought about national and provincial elections, I often felt our locally-elected officials failed to represent their own constituents and more frequently began representing those in Ottawa and Toronto.

Newspapers do still play a vital role

There has been a great deal of negative reporting about the state of journalism over the past few months.

As I read the news items and listen to the commentators, one would think that newspapers, independent television stations, and radio stations are about to die.

Yes, there will be some newspapers that will cease to publish. There will be some radio stations that will be amalgamated into a bigger base no longer attached to a single community and there also will be some TV stations in smaller markets that will disappear.

Too many options to mull

Marnie and I began remodelling our kitchen more than a year ago.

Marnie had never liked the dropped ceiling of the brilliant fluorescent fixtures that could light up the whole downstairs. So we agreed to lower the ceiling and put in all new lighting.

It was only the beginning of making several choices from more than a million options.

Safe drinking water is a right

Nightly Canadians are hearing the grim story coming from Flint, Mich., where a city of almost 100,000 people are being poisoned by their water.

The corrosive Flint River water has caused lead from ancient pipes to leach into the drinking water, causing extremely high concentrations of lead in 6,000-12,000 Flint residents—many of them children and teens.

Flint changed its source for drinking water in 2014.

Low loonie not all bad

When I was nine or 10, our Canadian dollar was worth $1.02 compared to the U.S. dollar.

Those two pennies were like gold when you exchanged your dollar into U.S. currency.

During the 1962 election between Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker and Liberal Lester Pearson, the dollar came under pressure and declined to 92.5 cents vis-a-vis the U.S. greenback.

As an election prop, the “Diefendollar” was created and distributed across Canada. The Conservatives subsequently suffered considerable electoral defeats across Canada.

Time to break out the Long Johns

I haven’t worn long underwear on a regular basis in almost 50 years.

Growing up and playing outside, we didn’t have today’s super-insulated parkas and snow pants. What we had were lined jeans, long underwear, and felt boots that were encased in rubber boots.

We all had toques that kept our heads warm.

When my brother and I started delivering papers in the early 1960s, my mother insisted that we have lined corduroy pants and Stanfield’s wool long johns.

Library serves important role

My mother, who likes to read, was reminiscing Saturday evening about coming to Fort Frances to attend high school.

Up until then, her family had lived in Hudson, Ont., where her father was the stationmaster.

The library in that community back in the early 1940s was a small bookshelf, and my mother explained to my wife and me that she had read every book on it.

But arriving in Fort Frances, she went to the Carnegie-funded library and discovered a whole building filled with books. And at the high school, there was a room filled with books.