Every two weeks on Thursday afternoon our cleaning lady attends to clean our apartment. We make a point of absenting ourselves and use the occasion to go abroad for a day of leisure. By design the perambulation includes a meal which, because we seldom get going until shortly after mid-day, means a late lunch or an early dinner depending how far we travel. Our compass most frequently includes Cedar Cove Resort on White Lake, Ivy Lea Club on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Town of Gananoque and the City of Kingston. Each has its appeal, variously promoted by the weather, our appetite or the geography.
Today for the second time in the past month we visited Atomica restaurant in the City of Kingston. It never fails to satisfy. The food is gourmet. It has – from our point of view – the further advantage of being casual. Our server today was a tall, thin young man who formerly played Quarterback for Queen’s University Golden Gaels football team (and he had the tattoo to prove it). As his job as a server is now full-time we knew enough to avoid further enquiry except to agree with him that some “time off” while one is young is a good thing.
For me a distinguishing feature of the outing is unquestionably driving my car. When we were on Hilton Head Island for the winter I seldom drove the car other than to collect groceries or to go to some appointment (dental, hair, collect the mail, etc.). Here the long, wide highways beacon me! We know the various routes well enough that I have learned to choose my preferred. During our drive to and from our destination we listen to music and BBC commentaries, chat about our personal affairs or just relish the scenery. Privately I am tuned into the car, connecting with its machinery, its tension, its acceleration, its torque and of course its instrumentation (including massage features and other variations of the seats). I prefer to drive a clean automobile but there is no car wash in the immediate area of our apartment so I defer the purgative ritual until after our return (by which time the car is often in need of attention especially if there has been a rainfall or road construction).
The car, with its technological functionality, lends itself to the conduct of modest business. We keep in touch with my mother and sister to ensure that the hatches are battened down whatever may have lately transpired. In some instances follow-up calls to the retirement home or my mother’s physician may be required. We also regularly check our email to respond as necessary. Considering I remember the first black and white television and the first microwave oven, we’ve bounded by enormous leaps in the past twenty years. I never view it as an indignity to “stay connected” especially in light of the comparative triviality of my own intervening agenda.
After our return home, and when I have safely discharged my passenger, I then reclaim the vehicle for my own. Preparatory to my departure from the apartment building, I remove the front carpets and dust them off. Then, having returned the vehicle to “zero”, I open all four windows and tune into the sounds of the wind and the road noises. My preferred route to the car wash from Almonte is along the Appleton Side Road to Hwy.#17 at Carleton Place. This preliminary jaunt through the undulating farmlands is bucolic beyond description. By the end of the day there is seldom anyone else on the road who is intent upon exceeding the speed limit to get to Ottawa. Even the four-lane highway is normally tranquil and one is therefore permitted the luxury of steady, comfortable passage.
The car wash I now attend is the Petro-Canada Glide station on Hazeldean Road east of Carp Road. It is one of the newer facilities. My ceremony is this: fill the gas tank; get the car washed; dry the excess water with a paper towel. While I check for excess water I tighten the air nozzle caps on each of the four tyres and blithely examine the car in a general way with a view to isolating any mischief or damage. If I am lucky enough to have the benefit of a pleasant summer evening, the windows are put down once again and I roll home into the sunset, retracing my earlier route (though now with heightened caution along the Appleton Side Road as dusk invites the regular passage of deer across the road from one field to another).
The final act of recovery from our outing is to relocate the various items which we earlier removed for the cleaning lady, things like place mats, kitchen implements, computers and of course towels and toiletries in the bathroom. I might have added that the preamble to our departure earlier today was the laundry of the bed clothes and remaking the bed with fresh sheets and pillow cases.