(Like most people, the pandemic lockdowns found new talents discovered. Tom Gardener filled his spare time creating log structures – bringing him closer to his Indigenous learnings, exercise, and a better frame of mind. Photos: submitted)
During the past 18 months, the pandemic has affected people with various behaviours. From baking to crafts many took up hobbies and displayed unique and copious talents to deal with the lockdowns and stress. For one Stittsville resident, Tom Gardener, the pandemic affected him in a profound way – a positive discovery of the land around him. Becoming a new parent during a pandemic has additional pressures. For Tom Gardener this was no different.
With the additional pressures of lockdown and as a new Dad, Tom would venture out on walks to the green spaces in Stittsville near his home. It was on one of his walks in August 2020 that Tom came across piles of logs that developer’s had left behind near Potter’s Key. “I didn’t know what to make of it at first,” Tom told Stittsville Central.
As a child, “I had made log forts and structures in the forests of Kanata where I grew up.” More recently, Tom has been working with an Indigenous group, has taken a course to learn to build a lodge, and learned the importance of caring and making a connection to the land – Mother Turtle. When Tom discovered the logs, he knew it was for a reason. “With a passion of love and appreciation of the land,” he began building structures. Tom pointed out that each structure has been built without the use of tools. He used what he had learned to create each structure.
“I created a log ring to start and the project just grew from there”, Tom said, “then building a larger stucture with a front and back portion.” Then a fire had been set by someone or a group. This did not deter Tom as he had now fostered a true connection to this piece of land. He cleaned up the area and began again. He told us, “as I was rebuilding the structures, I realized more importantly, I was also rebuilding my life.”
Tom experiences nature all around him when he visits the site to meditate. This provides him a shift in his mentality. He says, “a session of free nature therapy.” He calmly watches for the wildlife to appear. He has seen hawks, herons, owls, porcupines, toads, wild turkeys, but has yet to see a coyote, albeit others have said they did. When Tom is at the site, he reflects on the environment and how developers are wiping away our nature. “Cities and towns need healthy boundaries,” and Tom is appreciative that he has this place to visit, especially during the times of lockdown.
When you are considering a walk, consider going beyond Potter’s Key on an unmarked trail. Take the time to discover Tom’s structures and respect each one as they connect us to the land and Canada’s native history. Stittsville is fortunate to have residents like Tom who sincerely care about the environment and create natural beauty from a pile of abandoned logs. Meegwetch Tom.