Bite Me. Please.

green grass field near body of water during daytime

Szabolcs Tosh, via Unsplash

We grabbed the bikes provided by our hosts and headed down the paved part of Pritchard Road in the rolling terrain of the Gatineau Hills, north of Ottawa, in Quebec. My bike was a heavy, three-speed with coaster brakes. Remember those? You pedal backwards to make your bike stop. A quaint old thing. Like me.

No sooner did we turn onto Lac Bernard Road when the first hill rose, and halfway up, my legs shuddering, I dismounted and pushed that MOFO to the top. My heart was going nuts and I was panting like a sheepdog in the desert, all tongue and sweat. Ahead was brief plateau, a welcome downhill and then, bien sur, another incline. Continue reading

Culture Encounter

We buckled ourselves into a small electric vehicle that looked like a motorized pedi-cab parked outside our Lisbon hotel. Joel, our driver and guide, expertly pulled into the traffic while our companions on the tour, Eric and Heidi – fellow Canadians – introduced themselves.

“We’re from T’rono. I’m a sports guy,” Eric said. “I go to Buffalo, New York regularly to see the Leafs play. Games are always sold out in Toronto. I travel all over the States following my favourite sports teams.”

The heavy traffic made it challenging to talk, for which I was grateful. I didn’t want to hear Eric list how many cities he’d been to on his tour de NHL/NFL/NBA*. I wanted to listen to Joel. But Eric and Heidi’s presence gave weight to a curious feeling I sometimes have when traveling – that of bouncing along in a tourist bubble where I know I’m in a foreign country but there are frequent reminders of home. Joel’s flawless English added to that sense. Was I really in Lisbon or was this a Disneyland ride? Maybe the tuk-tuk’s clear roof also contributed to my impression of floating through Lisbon, in the city but removed at the same time. Continue reading

The 42nd

PointPeleeSign

Mainland Canada’s southernmost tip is parallel to Rome and although there are no ancient monuments, the ecosystem is as old as the last ice age when glaciers slid into Lake Erie 11,000 years ago. Point Pelee National Park (pelée being a French word that means “bald”) is on the 42nd parallel and it pokes into the shallowest of the Great Lakes like Pinocchio’s nose. Varieties of plants, animals, insects and birds found within its bounds are unique in the country. It’s a complex ecosystem.

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Walking through the Carolinian forest of Point Pelee

To reach the Point you drive to a little town called Leamington, Ontario. Leamington is known as the tomato capital of Canada and the tourist office on the main street is housed in an enormous tomato replica – undoubtedly a beefsteak. It comfortably holds two people who peer out of its window and greet you, offer advice on what to see, where to go and how to get there. Continue reading

Where I’ve been

RainforestFalls

Not Niagara Falls

May 28 – Niagara Falls, Ontario
The meeting starts at 8:00 a.m. and I arrive at 7:00 to make sure the internet connection works, put out the name plates for the attendees, distribute expense claims, test the conference phone. With everything ready to go, I stroll outside. At 7:30 on Sunday morning the town is quiet. I saunter along the path following the lip of the Niagara River gorge to find fog and mist obscuring both the river and the Canadian falls. Continue reading

Do you reside or live?

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French Canadian woman looks down on symbol of English oppression – the Bank of Montréal.

Reside as a word to describe where you live sounds forensic to me, like something you’d read in a police report. “The victim, a 59 year old female with two gold fillings, resides at 123 Dull Street, in Ottawa East. It rings of resignation and victim-hood.

Montréalers do not reside, baby, they live, Live, LIVE! Don’t bore me with that old joie de vivre bullshit. Montréalers are way past that borrowed colonial French cliché. They’re on a whole different planet of life. Continue reading

Mexican horses

TodosSantosHorse

Untethered

 

1968
We moved to Vancouver Island when I was ten. One of the selling features for the new location offered by my dad was horses – I could learn how to ride. Lessons arranged, I showed up at the barn on Saturday morning. The group lessons had started the week before and so the trainer gave me the last horse available – a  16 hands tall beast named Jet. I needed a leg-up to get into the stirrups. Continue reading