The Doozers Cometh
by Dan D-Roo
From Vol. 1, No. 5, 1999
I got back from a week’s vacation on Monday. We went to my parents in law’s cottage. I grew up never having a family cottage to go to (I guess that’s why I loved camping, as a kid, scouts was the only way I ever got to know the outdoors). I’ve been to other peoples’ country places before, but never for a length of time.
I hafta admit, it was very relaxing over the 10 days I was there. I read a couple of books, biked all over the place and swam constantly. It was my first real stay in cottage country. While I thoroughly enjoyed myself as long as I stayed active (swimming, biking, fishing and of course: changing & washing my son’s diapers), it was during periods where I was left within my thoughts that I found myself distressed.
The area was once considered extremely far off the beaten trail and still today is only accessed by dirt road. My wife has been going up there since she was 2 years old. Then, it was a pristine lake with one farm at the southern end and a dozen model homes (cottages.) At that time, few of them were even winterized: theirs still has only single pane windows and is used only 3 or 4 months of the year. When the road was first broken to allow access to the lake from the north, the farmer at the other end was pretty pissed. He had only known “total privacy” on the lake most of his life. Fishing, hunting and farming with no body of people enforcing any kind of order (no people at all in fact).
All of a sudden a bulldozer comes crashing into his lake from the north. They came through government land, as far away from the farm as physically possible. At first a dozen cottages, the lake could easily sustain more, there was one road.
Her grandfather was reading through the local paper that month, saw an ad for a distant development of lakefront property. He would be one of the first to buy.
Imagine living on your own lake. At any time of the day or night you could go fish yourself lunch or dinner. Be guaranteed a sizable meal with every cast. Solitude without compromise. This was once that farmers lifestyle.
Enter the “Doozers.” Without any say, any control or approval the lake becomes communal. Docks spring up, motor boats, rafts, lights and every outdoorsman’s worst nightmare: lawns!
Do you recall the children’s program Fraggle Rock? I don’t remember much of anything from that show except for one episode (and the fact that I think it was designed to replace the old favorite “The Muppet Show”.) There were these muppets that always eat these little scaffolds. The scaffolds were the creation of these mini muppets called Doozers.
The Doozers would constantly be building scaffolds and the muppets would continuously be eating them. Eventually some of the muppets began to feel badly about destroying all the Doozers work. They lobbied together to stop all muppets from ever eating the scaffolds again. The show then focused on the little Doozers (who rarely got spoken parts), they were having a community meeting.
“It seems we have a problem,” said the mayor. “The muppets have ceased to eat our scaffold structures, and we are now running out of areas to build on.”
“What will happen to us?” asked the crowd.
“I don’t know, one thing’s for sure we can’t stay here, we need somewhere to build or we’ll surely perish.”
I don’t know who it was who wrote the show, or for whom it was written. It struck me ironic that it was a children’s program, but did the author intend on such a poignant metaphor? Never the less, it has provided a useful label where one may not have previously existed.
Like foraging maggots, the road has slithered its way around the entire lake. A dozen cottages have become hundreds of homes. A developer’s dream. Who knew, 30 years ago, that Toronto would become the sprawling city it is today? Even the developers in this area north of T.O. didn’t foresee what would become of this worthless wilderness. Too rocky to farm, too north for orchards, no minerals, already clear-cut 60 years earlier, and too far north for anyone to drive to for the weekend. Yet some fool went and developed it anyway.
Perhaps by sheer luck, that developer hit gold in a mere 20 years. Today, suburbanites gladly drive 4 hours and often more trying to get out of the big (sub)city. In droves, they arrive each weekend to progressively civilize the very lands they originally came to escape from civilization. It has been 10 years since Kathy had been up there. She was familiar with the sounds of chainsaws, circular saws, lawnmowers and motorboats, but you just don’t seem to recognize gradual changes.
After 10 years however the accumulated efforts of all that Doozer activity became plainly visible. She brought me ’round to all her best fishing spots, those forgotten areas on the west side of the lake that only the select earlybirds knew about. Many of the other fishermen knew her back then– she had been one of the “gang.”
It has been a decade since she even cast a rod, much less actively fished. It showed, those secret spots she brought me to were today no longer under the protective shade of shoreline canopy. There was no longer any trees on the shore to cast shade! It seems the bulldozers had made their way to the west side of the Lake. The only shade that exists today is under the floating docks, and the fucking seadoos which are hooked up to them.
I could almost feel the reminiscing eyes of Kathy’s old entourage of local fishermen as they watched us sadly go from one spot to the next, only to find the that the long arm of the Doozers had stretched into every available nook they could find. Like a healthy disease parasitized towards an inevitable death, this once pristine Lake stood. Even while you stand there thinking the area has lost much of what it once had to offer, the sound of chainsaws, circular saws, lawnmowers, motorboats and bulldozers (as the disease reaches for yet new grounds further still) are heard daily. “The Doozers need somewhere to build or they’ll surely perish”.
I’m left with the thought of deer that no longer browse those woods, with the moose who have abandoned the local shallows, schools of large fish who have no shallows left to abandon, and the memory of that mindless fuck buzzing around on his mindless fuckmobile seadoo!
I wonder what that farmer must feel, he knows what has been lost. The rest of us came in after it was gone, we can only imagine. Every year someone reels in a big one, the talk of the summer. As we marvel at the year’s greatest catch, farmer Joe is only reminded of the time when he harvested fish of the same size every day. When the deer would visit every evening, and the all-but-forgotten moose were a seasonal occurence. Every exciting event for the locals pushes Joe further into his own personal hell, his memory.
I’m not ashamed when I say, I feel no pity for Joe. He was a fool not to buy all the land himself to begin with. There’s a lot of large private holdings out there, and a lot of aging owners. I look forward to the day when one of ‘em’s mine. I’m asking myself how can I afford to buy thousands of acres, rather then how many acres can I afford to buy (which is what Joe asked himself 40 or 50 years ago). It’s a small difference in wording, but a world of difference in the future of our lives. We have the choice to surround ourselves with all the flora and fauna of the natural world, living in a constantly changing and flourishing environment, and enjoying the option of solitude whenever we so desire. Or we have the choice to accept life within the diseased communal living space of cottage country. Joe is a “dime a dozen” Canadian, he lives in every province, he farms hundreds of different crops, and gives prayer to dozens of gods (small “g”.) He’s an average man with an average dream, living out his life in woeful desperation.
Life dealt me an average hand, I’m an average fellow, but I have an unaverage dream. My goal is to achieve my dream. My priority in life is my goal, and my time is valuable only if it’s in the pursuit of my priorities. I’m broke, but only financially. In my mind I see myself at the shores edge, casting my line as the sun rises on the far side of my private lake. I smell the freshground coffee seated at my side and I’m listening to the bounty of wild birds foraging in their natural unaltered environment. What nobody else can see with their eyes is that I’m actually quite rich. How is it said: “What we can believe and conceive, we will achieve?”
Isn’t it ironic that we cram our dreams, goals and priorities into our 3 to 4 weeks of vacation, while we work for someone else’s dreams, goals and priorities the other 48 weeks of the year. That’s how we value our time. Unfortunately that’s what I spent my vacation thinking about, kinda puts a damper on it. At the least I know what I don’t want, more importantly, I know what I do want.
The Doozers Cometh