Getaway

H. and I enjoyed a short getaway last week: two nights and three days in the Chilliwack area, at the Fraser River’s Edge B & B, about an hour-and-a-half away. We filled up on a gorgeous view of the river, the warm hospitality (with full pandemic protocols), delicious breakfasts, and restful ambience of the lodge. If the continuing Covid season made a change of scene seem urgent, it also made this particular spot possible, for, as co-owner Adriana told us, they’re normally fully booked by out-of-country guests who come for fishing adventures.

We let the other two couples at the lodge wrestle with fish (a nine foot sturgeon, we heard, which beat the humans after more than an hour’s effort) while we explored the river’s edge, Chilliwack Mountain, and the Vedder River trail; bought and ate the best corn of the summer from a local stand; and found my grandparents graves in the Chilliwack cemetery. We’d roamed about in that cemetery some years ago, looking without finding, but this time I’d phoned ahead to get the exact location, and thus we successfully completed the earlier quest.

I wondered later what suddenly compelled us to find somewhere else to go, what besides trying to plug the sad hole a visit to our Toronto children would have filled in other times. I remembered efforts we sometimes made when newly married to get out and do things on weekends, when we would just as soon have stayed home after a week of work. Partially at least, I think, it was to prove to colleagues Monday morning that we too “had a life.” (Lingering shades of high school, I suppose.) The need to impress about socializing is past, but perhaps a remnant of that effort had emerged now in reference to ourselves. Maybe we needed to prove to ourselves that, in spite of the strangeness affecting us all, we still have a life. To prove that we could still — sort of — get away.

P.S. When we returned, nourished by Away, our balcony petunias were overflowing their planter banks in welcome! IMG_7517

Road trip diary (# 5)

Tuesday, October 8, Hague, Saskatchewan

In B.C., I defend Winnipeg weather, which tends to be misunderstood, and usually I do so in terms of its sunshine. According to this comparison of Canadian cities, Winnipeg tops the chart in annual sunshine. The four days we just spent there, however, failed to reward my fond defence. It was grey and moist throughout. But Sunday evening, the sky cleared somewhat, and yesterday (Monday) we were on the road again under bright sun and summery warmth. All day we enjoyed that light and the beauty of the prairies, a modest beauty, but beauty for sure, mostly flat but valleys and waves of land here and there, stands of trees turning yellow (with occasional hints of red), grazing cattle, geese in long lines overhead, stubble in rows and dotted with bales.

We took the Yellowhead highway to Saskatoon, which took us through Neepawa, which I don’t drive through without thinking of Margaret Laurence. I’ve been re-reading her work this year, as well as reading the Africa books, which I hadn’t read before. She was an enormous inspiration and influence in my reading/writing coming of age. (About an earlier visit to Neepawa here.) We passed through numerous other towns, some large, some small, many with truck and implement dealerships, gleaming vehicles and machines on display. And always the vast sky, set back and cloudless, insisting that we focus on the landscape.

We arrived in Hague, where my sister Linda lives, in time for supper, and spent the evening visiting with her. A bit of panic ensued when I saw my MacBook was almost out of power but I couldn’t find my charger. I figured I must have forgotten it in the last bedroom we occupied. How dependent we get on these instruments of information and communication! This morning I found it, packed in the place it wasn’t supposed to be packed, and all is well, it’s juicing up while I write this and H. and I are drinking our daily morning yerba mate.

We’ll spend this day with my elderly mother (97) at the Mennonite Nursing Home in Rosthern, and the evening at a reading event in Saskatoon. More on that after it happens!

What was the highlight?

“What was the highlight?” I’m frequently asked this question about my recent trip to Europe with my daughter C.

A good question, and a completely reasonable one too, even its built-in hint for the Coles Notes version, please, not the Complete Works Of… And I do love to answer it. But honestly, it’s difficult, because once again I realized–more forcibly than ever this time–that travel accrues intensely and steadily in a long series of experiences, moments not huge in and of themselves perhaps, but memorable in their combination. Continue reading