At 2 o’clock this morning I awoke and trudged to the study where I flipped through the television channels. I stumbled upon a TCM (Turner Classic Movies) black and white Italian film called “Kapö” about the holocaust. It involved a young girl who, unlike her parents, escaped execution under false pretences and a pseudonym with the Nazis. Her real name was Edith. It was a tragic love story between her and a dashing prisoner. Aside from the historic violence and horror of the movie it spoke to me as a predicate to the subsequent Federico Fellini films about which I am so notoriously enamoured.
Later in the morning (after having succumbed to a two hour snooze) en route to the car wash in preparation for our departure for the start of our winter hibernation, I telephoned Bobbie in Maine. It was just shortly after 9:00 am and I caught her dressing for a medical appointment in Boston with her husband George. She told me today is the first day of Chanukah; and that she and their son Noah (who was born on the eve of the holiday 48 years ago) celebrated his birthday last night reflecting the tradition of celebrating the start of Chanukah the night before.
At precisely 1:30 pm as planned, having unplugged the electrical devices and turned off the hot water, having packed the car with our stuff, having checked the mail and locked the doors, having alerted our neighbour that our subterranean parking spot was free, we launched onto the highway in the direction Carleton Place (where last evening we had dined at the Gourmet restaurant) towards Gananoque along the St Lawrence River.
Though there had been a light dusting of snow last night the sky was clear today. The magnificent weather enabled me to endure the sometimes hectic Monday traffic including in particular the dopes we insist on passing anyone such as I who travels at only moderately above the speed limits. We wove our way through the back-country roads between Smiths Falls and Gananoque, laterally following one of the ubiquitous and massive Thomas Cavanagh Construction Limited cement trucks which maintained an exact 10 Kms above the posted speed limit – studiously flashing its tail lights when approaching school buses stopped to allow passengers to disembark.
Our overnight stop was at the IHG Holiday Inn which I would not normally have expected to be of any notice in a resort as off-season and small as Gananoque. Wrong! It’s a spanking new 3-storey building with all the latest amenities (fireplace, vault, coffee machine, small ‘fridge, jacuzzi, walk-in shower, hot breakfast) and none of the outdated features (bathtub, cold breakfast).
We came prepared expecting there to be few places open here for dining on a Monday. We were right. The hotelier recommended the Stonewater Irish pub by the River but we found it was closed for renovations today and tomorrow. Rather than risk an unpredictable meal at a Chinese restaurant we relinquished our initial quaint ambition and settled for what proved to be the very reliable Tim Horton “Always Fresh”. As we sat in a remote eastern corner significantly furthest removed from squealing infants at the other end of the place, I privately queried while munching and staring at the images on the wall directly behind my partner whether the Americans would so willingly advertise the congruity of black, Indian, native, white male and female children in the Tim Horton Foundation. I understand Tim Horton is now owned by a new conglomerate.
It’s now getting late in the day. In the distance across the frozen countryside I hear the welcome and infrequent sound of a train whistle. I am about to extinguish the lights and go to bed. The alarm is already set for 5:30 am. Breakfast at six-thirty. Then the American border as we head to West Virginia for our first full day of travel.