I’m off to Western Canada and to all the joys that await me. I’ll be sitting in the living rooms of many fine people. But not until Friday. Before I get to Henry and Louise in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, there’s a big chunk of Ontario to meander through.
I left at 4:15 this morning to give me lots of time to reach the Chi-Cheemaun ferry that runs between Tobermory, Ontario and Manitoulin Island. My first adventure was in the dark near Lucan. Two baby raccoons scampered onto the highway, their four eyes shining in my headlights. They must have been terrified to see those two big white things. I slammed on the brakes and watched as my sudden friends threw themselves back into the ditch. Someone behind me in a big vehicle was following too close and came within a couple of feet of crushing my bicycle ta-pocketa, who was hanging from a rack behind Scarlet’s trunk. Oh my. Thank you Jody, and other blessed beings for keeping my bike and me safe.
Up the Bruce Peninsula I floated at the speed limit. Pass me if you need to. I’m tired of going fast in life. Such beauty all around me. More and more coniferous trees until the water revealed itself in Tobermory. I didn’t get much sleep last night so coffee and breakie was a relief. And then, in a newly alert state … “Wow. I’m on a road trip.” Out and about. Neither here nor there. Following my nose, not to mention my map.
As the ferry left the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, I leaned over the railing on the top deck and found myself in a conversation with a lovely woman named Lori. She and her two kids are on a vacation from Kentucky. Lori is so hoping that they all get to see the Northern Lights. Yes, may you see the shimmering green sheets in the sky. Lori is also determined to get her son and daughter away from their “devices”, to have them gaze in awe at the water, the lights, the meadows and the trees. To just stop, look and listen.
I told Lori about my wife Jody, about her presence in the trees and about the book I wrote about my dear one. She was happy to receive a copy, and wiped away a tear or two. Then it was family lunch time in the cafeteria so we said goodbye. During the last few minutes of our talk, I became aware of another entity, one that was hovering nearby. A single seagull followed us on our voyage. For at least 45 minutes, I didn’t take my eyes off him or her. The birdacious one sometimes came as close as five feet, checking me out with his right eye, Then he’d swoop down towards the water. After that he’d wheel high above the ship, but always returned to be nearby. There were about 15 people on my high deck and perhaps 30 on the one below, but aside from a kid or two, no one seemed to notice our local acrobat. Texting, reading, talking … all good things, but the curled wings working the winds was mostly an unseen miracle. Such a loss of the present moment.
Maybe I’ll be an athlete gull in my next lifetime. I sure was taken with this virtuoso flier. It felt like there was a link between the two of us. I know, you could say that he just wanted food, but I’m sure it became clear after a minute or two that I didn’t have any. And still the seagull stayed. I was glad.
Within ten seconds of the announcement asking us to return to our cars, my friend was gone. Just poof! Oh, the mysteries of this physical life.
This is fun. I hope I have Internet access every day during the next six weeks so I can tell you what my eyes see and my heart feels. Tomorrow I venture along the north shore of Lake Superior, visit the monument to Terry Fox, who fought so hard to run across Canada for cancer research, and finally lay down my head in Thunder Bay. See you then.