(written April 2005)
It is one of those memories that sticks with you. Although it was in the mid 1970’s, I remember it well. We were driving our red VW Beetle down a desolate two lane highway that cut a straight line through unending northern forests of northern (and I do mean ‘northern’) Alberta, Canada. Although it was the main road to the Peace River country, even further north, in those days it was not a busy road.
Whenever we traversed it, which we had done a number of times, we met with very little traffic in either direction. On this trip we had the road to ourselves; just us, our VW Beetle, and a clear empty road dissecting a vast and inhospitable wilderness. As I mentioned, this was in the mid 1970’s and VWs were renowned at that time, for their fuel economy. Mind you, by today’s standards that ‘fuel economy’ would be considered rather profligate. But in those days it was the best of the rest, I loved seeing how far I could go on a tank of petrol. The trip itself was, what I considered at the time, a short 600 mile hop (965 kilometres).
[editor’s note: Today, in 2015, I consider that not just a long journey, but a two day journey at that!]
We had been driving for a number of hours, and slowly but surely the petrol gauge made its way, inexorably, toward the E on the dial. The time was drawing nigh to when the fuel endurance test would be at its completion and we should find a petrol station.
Now this was a fairly dreary section of the highway, the forest was not of lofty pines and great green swathes, but of scrub pines, and dreary pockets of stagnant water and jagged rocks, uninhabited and for a reason. It was because of this that petrol stations were not around every corner. In fact, there weren’t many corners on this road as it ran straight as a die, undulating over a unceasing series of low hills, each hill cleft by the ribbon of road with the low valleys between hidden until it was revealed when we broached the crest of the hill.
Invariably, the vista was the same, the road dropping straight down the gentle incline of the hill, across the valley floor and gently curving straight up the oppos ite side. Rarely a sign, rarely a reminder of another world other than this monotonous line through the bush and rarer still a petrol station.
Finally we arrived at the first petrol station we had seen in miles and miles. I pulled in, hot, dusty and a bit bone weary from the trip. I brought the car to a stop in front of the pump and glanced over at the price. This was in the days when petrol was sold by the gallon, none of this litre stuff. The price was a princely 70 cents (Canadian) a gallon.
My eyes bulged out.
I sputtered and babbled.
One glance at the petrol gauge and the position of the needle hovering slightly above the ‘E’.
”No way” I exclaimed with true vehemence, “no way am I going to pay 70 cents; 70 CENTS for a gallon of petrol!!!”
And with that one forceful statement muttered to no one in particular, I started the car up, and the fuel endurance test entered a new phase as we pulled out of the station and heading off into the wilderness.
Sitting here in Istanbul in 2005, a nostalgic sigh slips unbidden from my lips. I’ve just returned from fuelling up the car. The price of a litre of petrol here (in 2005) is only 2.53 YTL (New Turkish Lira) or roughly £1 a litre or roughly $2.31 CDN a litre or $1.87 US a litre. Now, to put this in perspective and, if you are like me and still relate best to a gallon amount, that works out to £4.55 or $10.50 CDN for a Imperial gallon or $7.08 US for an American gallon.
I repent, please bring back the 70 cent gallon!
But those day are, I’m afraid, gone and gone for good.
Sometimes it is difficult seeing things in perspective, but strive we must, and in all things, and I mean all things, be thankful. Often we find it quite challenging to be thankful. There are many situations where we feel it is not possible or even reasonable to be thankful . Sometimes it is jolly hard to be thankful, but in the fullness of time, it may be very possible to be truly thankful. There are others times when, even after the passage of time, we still find that we feel that it is still not be possible to be thankful. But if we focus on the good, the positive lessons learned, we may be thankful (Michael J. Fox declares he is thankful for his Parkinson’ disease – a disease which cut short a career he loved and yet changed him into a better person. If you cut and paste this link into a web browser, it will take to an interesting page and contained therein is a video of an an interview with Michael J. Fox, here is the link: http://moviepilot.com/posts/3293702-the-sad-but-uplifting-but-true-story-of-michael-j-fox-on-his-birthday-lt_source=external,manual,manual,manual,manual
Failing that, consider the One who loves us to the point of giving His one and only Son that we may live – at the end of all things, therein in is something we can be profoundly thankful for, regardless of whatever may befall us.