And I’m aware that blogs are supposed to pop into the invisible yappy world at least every two or three weeks. Because if they aren’t out there, the magical graph which indicates how many people have read my blog, flattens out and then I get feeling like a nobody.
My excuse for being late, by the way, is that I was in Ontario visiting my family and friends.
But not at first. I love driving into my old city haunts, rolling down the 401 and seeing the swamp on the east side of Kingston. Love seeing my family and friends.
Love the Peach Tree Inn with the big room. Two honking big beds, a large bathroom with a gigantic mirror. Now that’s some thrill, and the room has a window which nearly fills in one wall. It overlooks a gorgeous river of cars, trucks and motorcycles. With weird and not so weird people sauntering, power walking or running along its shore.
Who is weird and who is not weird? That’s a philosophical question that often tickles my thinking organ. And when I got thinking about this while I was in Kingston, I’d take a walk into the washroom and stare into the big mirror. Weird or not weird? Weird or not weird?
Then I’d be off to the little refrigerator for a cold beer. And the room had a microwave, a desk for the laptop, a table to sit around, two big drawers, a couch; the luxury was almost too much.
While in the city we visited this store and that store. This pub and that pub. This mall and that mall. Always with the gorgeous river flowing by. Rushing onward towards who knows where. And that’s another one of those weird brain-tickling questions that is hard to answer.
Then back to the hotel and to the big bathroom mirror. Weird or not weird? Weird or not weird?
Anyway, it took a few days of hurrying here and there before my brain began to curl into itself like a tired, nearly popped out baby in the womb. And my healthy Cape Breton routine of not drinking many glasses of beer a day ceased. My regular Cape Breton exercise program flabbed up. I began to do circles every few steps. Like a rat in a concrete shoe box with mechanically placed holes punched through the top.
Signs and rules. Rules and signs. Don’t park here. Don’t stop here. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Do this and do that. Scents galore. Good and bad. Tiny areas of grassy retreats next to tall buildings sprinkled with discarded dreams.
Well, you get the picture and when I finally saw the ‘Welcome to Cape Breton’ sign on the Canso Causeway, my mind and body stretched and yawned like a cat released from a cage.
Can you imagine me living in Toronto? I did actually live in Hog Town once. For eight months. Eight long, stuffy, depressing months.
She wrote: “Some years later, when I was an established author, I said to a Toronto reporter who had asked me a question about him, “My husband is a true rural man.”
“What does that mean?” the reporter asked, his voice full of skepticism.
“It means,” I said, “that he understands the world in terms of wild things.” I was a little surprised myself at my answer, having been called upon to explain something that until that moment had seemed self-evident, and realizing that, caught off guard, I had hit on the heart of the matter.
The reporter’s pencil stopped moving, his eyes shifted away from me, he reflected, his eyes shifted back to me, and without writing anything down he changed the subject. When I told this story to a writer-naturalist friend, he said, laughing, that for the reporter my answer ‘does not compute.’”
For me the city does not compute.
My first hike was made with a long-time friend. At one point he stopped to knock down an old branch. While he was giving it a good shaking, a small animal scurried out of a hole. Scampered up the branch and sort of glued itself to a higher place. It looked like a red squirrel and it kind of didn’t look like a red squirrel. Upon further observation we decided it was a flying squirrel. I haven’t seen too many of them.
My friend took this picture of the flying squirrel and very kindly emailed it to me.
In blog eighteen I wrote that I used bright green trail tape to mark my paths. That was wrong. I used bright orange tape. At least the "bright" was correct.
I tossed out some pieces of biscuits. Bird edible. I waited for a creature to swoop down and beak up a quick snack. The food was close to where I was sitting. This, I knew, would make the creatures nervous.
This crow flew towards the woodshed. Did a fly pass or two and then landed about six feet from me. He grabbed a piece of food. But surprised me by not immediately flying away. Instead he grabbed another piece and another piece. About four or five, altogether. Looking like a hungry guest at one of those places where starvation sized sandwiches are laid out on plates for the guests to daintily pick up and swallow with a glass of fluid.
He took off, carrying his booty. He flew it to his gang, the five or six crows who hang out here.
These crows seem to get along. They seldom fight or rush at each other. Hold few food fights. Instead they all eat their own food. Like a good Christian family at Sunday dinner.
May the force be with him and with you.