History shows that communities can overcome differences

I’ve been musing for some time now on that peculiar missive of Times’ correspondent Dave Thompson under the byline of ‘Sports ’n’ Things’ (May 6th).  It was a strange rant really, spawning as these things do a number of counter rants of increasing outrage and bluster.

I couldn’t quite figure out whether it was meant as a promo piece for the local winery, a somewhat misguided essay in support of amalgamation, or, given the ‘Sports’ byline, an attempt to stir up the local rivalry that’s been going on for the past century or so.  If the latter, then he certainly succeeded.  But to what end?

OK, I’m sure that at some appropriate time we in Rossland should apologize for all those years when we flushed our crap into the creek and let it all float down the hill to Trail.

That really wasn’t nice; the symbolism stinks even if it did make for lush greens on the golf course.   But surely that can’t be all?  Thompson isn’t the first to suggest that the ‘special relationship’ between Rossland and Trail is not all wine and roses.

I have only lived here for 45 years so obviously I am not well enough attuned to the local sensitivities to fully understand why these rifts occur and the acrimony that flies about at the slightest excuse.  I’ve heard it suggested that it all began with hockey rivalry – the Warriors and the Smokies.

Surely that can’t be true; hockey is just a game after all.  Oh, more than that?  A religion you say?  Ahhh, I see, like in Ireland, something really worth fighting for.

Maybe the altitude has something to do with it, low oxygen levels and all that.  Thompson hinted about that with reference to the rarified air of the mountain tops, and going down to Trail and up to Rossland – that symbolism again.

Admittedly altitude can do strange things to one’s mental acuity.  Must be some reason why folks would choose to live up here in the Mountain Kingdom – five months of winter in a good year; bears scratching at the back door; deer pillaging the efforts of those struggling to nurture edible life in this most extreme of horticultural zones; green tomato salads; a recycling addiction extending to all aspects of life, except City Councils that are discarded every three years; a walking terrain best suited to the young and the wiry, sensibly equipped with Vibram soles, bear spray, doggie wipes and an emergency blanket; peculiarly risky cycling terrain involving rocks, ruts and ridiculous routes bordering on the insane; and did I mention eyebrow raising house prices and the highest taxes in the land; no bugs though, it’s too bloody cold.

All this builds character of course, and we have characters up here like you wouldn’t believe.

The mountains and the valleys; the history of human conflict and conquest is written in those divisions.  There is an interesting series currently on the Knowledge TV channel called ‘A History of Scotland’.  It describes the huge divide between the Highlanders and the Lowlanders that existed for centuries.

They seemed to spend much of their time slaughtering each other, much brutal hacking and chopping with those enormous broadswords and axes.  It’s a wonder there is anyone left; even today the Scots are a bit thin on the ground.

OK, we’re not there yet, in fact it seems to me that, notwithstanding whatever hacking and chopping might have gone on between the Warriors and the Smokies in the old days, things could be a lot worse.

There are enough current and recent examples of what can happen in this world of ours when neighbours don’t get along; but surely our differences here are petty by comparison.

Perhaps we can take encouragement from the relative harmony that exists in Scotland today – football matches excepted.  It is possible to share one country, even one extended community; let’s hope it won’t take quite as long here.

Graham Kenyon

Rossland