As I looked through my image archive I was pleased to come across this picture of a Grist Mill in the Sugar Valley. The structure was built in 1840 and its works were powered by water from nearby Fishing Creek. I thought the mingling of textures in the coursed stone wall and feed sign made for a pleasant image. There are a number of similar mills in our area and Joanna and I happened upon another during a drive through the Nippenose Valley last summer. These abandoned structures always impress. The silence which surrounds them is incongruous for these were once busy, active, places. The local mill was, and still is, a place where folks gathered, caught up, and did business. I lament the loss of the old reliance on the power of falling water. Today’s mills are driven by more productive and dependable power-trains when once a clean and renewable resource moved the great gears, shafts, and stones which turned harvest into feed. And, finally, these mills are iconic structures, representing a time when the lives of people were so very different than our own. It’s not that our basic needs have changed, for we have always sought food, shelter, and community. Moreover individual lives, at all times, have had shares of reward and disappointment, joy and sorrow, and sickness and good health. What then can I mean then when I say that our lives are so very different now? One could certainly point to technological and scientific advances but these only scratch the surface. The difference of which I speak is more fundamental. I believe that life is more complex than it once was and arises from increases in interconnectedness at all scales. I am not sanguine about this rapidly evolving feature of our lives. Surely there is much to be said in support of the internet and social media and our ability to communicate on scales and at speeds unimagined just decades ago. But I wonder whether there are collateral costs to such development. I could go on, suffice it instead to say that these abandoned mills represent, to me at least, a time when life was less complex. Not easier, but simpler.