I went to bed last night shortly before or after 9:00 o’clock. I awoke around 2:30 am, got up, took my usual collection of pills, then went back to bed. But I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about bicycling. I knew the weather, though terribly cold, would be dry and sunny. Overnight I had heard the wind howling about the building. My iPhone told me we could expect total sunshine today. At 4:30 am I got out of bed, collected my clothes and headed to the living area to dress and prepare myself for an early morning drive. Until the sun rose it would be an ideal time for a drive. Or, as I prefer to envisage it, a flight in the Aviator!
I wheeled out of the garage onto the clear, empty street. There was no one to be seen. At least not until I reached the Maclan Bridge. There I saw someone, seemingly young, dressed in a heavy overcoat with a backpack on, walking bent into the wind along the bridge. I was naturally curious to know what he or she was doing so early in the morning. When I rounded the corner at Martin St N and turned onto Ottawa Street there were two vehicles ahead of me. They went onto March Road in the direction of Ottawa. I turned instead onto Appleton Side Road thinking I would escape whatever morning traffic was headed to Ottawa. There was no one traveling in the same direction as I. But two cars approached from the opposite direction, one after the other. The second passed the first after going by me.
By the time I reached the 4-lane highway at Carleton Place, traffic was beginning to develop. Once again I queried what people were doing so purposefully at five o’cock in the morning. Already there was evident eagerness among the drivers, some of whom were downright aggressive when approaching others from the rear, pushing towards them in order to hurry by. I turned off the highway at Stittsville and drove directly to the gas station and car wash.
I knew from experience – my former working days of making similar matutinal jaunts – that the car wash was open 24 hours. I went into the wash directly. The device – a touchless wash – has recently been updated and it functions remarkably well. The display of soap is artistic. I sat pacifically as the machine did its work; then, after allowing the dryer thoroughly to perform its duty as well, went to my usual pump at the south end of the station. After having examined the car, both sides, all tyres, I topped up the gas tank then left.
The project now was what I knew would be a leisurely drive northward to Arnprior, in the opposite direction of what I anticipated to be the on-coming morning business traffic to Ottawa. I was right. There was a steady stream of headlights coming towards me on the opposite side of the medium. Those who followed me in the same direction were obviously not in a rush – though they all passed me because I was doing the old fogey thing of driving at the speed limit. I had set the cruise control including the automatic lane keeping.
At Campbell Road I exited the highway then circled back onto it, this time southward towards Ottawa. The traffic was noticeably thicker. I remained in the slower lane following others. In the fast lane however there were endless small cars, most of which were black, all rushing to get ahead of the others, many of whom I privately scolded for being reckless or aggressive. As I drove at my tempered speed the vast eastern horizon, a full 180° before me, became a ribboned mixture of soft orange, pink and blue. The sky above the horizon changed from midnight ink to a deep blue shade. As the sun began to rise the ceiling clarified and altered colour to daylight by the minute. I was soon driving almost directly into the sun though more southerly. Along the way I marvelled at the leafless tree limbs towering into the cold sky. The highway was remarkably clean. The engine sound of the car was soothing. I listened to music from my iPhone rather than the news which was universally devoted to COVID vaccination.
At 7:00 am after having turned onto the Appleton Side Road I stopped at the HFT (Healthy Food Technologies) donut shop but it was closed. So I went across the street to Tim Horton’s and bought a dozen of their best.
At home I parked the car in the garage, cleaned the mat then transported the goodies to the apartment. Contrary to what you might expect, the first duty thereafter was to don a silk scarf and my sheepskin coat in preparation for a bicycle ride. We completed our very agreeable tour of 4.98 km not long after eight o’clock. Then breakfast and coffee. And the donuts!