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
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
I want to be one of those shimmering
stick figures framed in my bedroom window
under glass as they meander to the point,
quivering in the glitter of sun on waves.
Their dog trots forward to the high and dry
marker buoy while the other two straggle,
appear, disappear, appear in the play of light.
They turn shoreward and I lose sight of them.
I pull on shoes still gritty from yesterday’s walk,
head for wave-shaped rocks, pick
through barnacle spotted tide pools,
around boulders covered in kelp hair,
gulping Fundy’s perfume – gull shit,
sun-roasted dulse, tidal mud –
crunch sand, crush shells.
Behind me today’s footprints
will soon wash away
in the rising tide. I scan
the shoreline for the
window and hail
of it all.
Written in response to dVerse prompt: Descriptive Detail
Lake Huron, summer, 2018
I met my Waterloo in the loo of a Waterloo, Ontario Shopper’s Drug Mart.
“It’s Senior’s Day,” I said to my husband and daughter. Presciently, on my list was a large bottle of Extra-strength Advil. Lured by the 20% discount and bonus points on my loyalty card, we stopped en route to Point Pelee National Park.
For years, I’ve wanted to visit Point Pelee in early May to witness the massive annual spring migration of song birds heading north for the summer. Our Air BnB waited for us in Kingsville. We’d signed up for tours and workshops offered by Friends of Point Pelee. Binoculars and journals were packed. We were ready. Continue reading
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.
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
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
All day, I sat in a windowless meeting room in the basement of a hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia and listened to very important people talk about very important things. Immediately before the meeting my bowels had erupted, protesting as they often do to the change in input when I travel. I also forgot my acid reflux meds at home in Ottawa. And so the day began.
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
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
It was a lie and Harry knew it. The truth was theoretical to Lady Smock, like a science experiment, an idea to float, see how he took it, and then conduct herself on the basis of her theory.
For instance, today she told him she appreciated his making all their holiday arrangements without confirming the details. Yes, yes, they talked, talked, talked about what to do and when to go but he knew she wanted to do it herself. After all, it was her money. He averred she had every right to be upset but as usual she tried to cover her feelings with a theory. In theory, she would accept his decision with grace. In theory.
“Thank you, Harry. I’m tickled pink you chose Guernsey instead of Mont St-Michel! Yes, it would be fun to tour the hedge veg culture on Guernsey. Lovely. Just lovely. Toast and marmite for breakfast is lovely, too. Who wants fresh croissants and local brie with café au lait for breakfast? Yes, you’re right, of course you are. Travel can be so upsetting to the tummy.”
Her wet shoes squeaked as she came up the path returning from her morning beach-walk and Harry knew the truth was going to come out. He and the shoes would be hung out to dry.
(Frankly, I, Windy Mama, would rather go to Guernsey but Lady Smock can be very stubborn. After I read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, this island is right up there on my list of places to go. However, the question today is where would YOU rather go?)