St. Lawrence River

The St. Lawrence River is more than a thread of fresh water nosing 1,197 kilometres into the North American hinterland.  It conveys everything from ocean-going tankers and weekend yachts to tiny pleasure craft and toys for the cottagers and riparian dwellers along the length of the estuary. Living inland as we do within an hour of the waterway it is not uncommon to travel southward from Ottawa along Hwy #416 to Prescott and then onto the Ivy Lea Parkway which connects between historic Brockville and Gananoque.

Gananoque is a town in the Leeds and Grenville area of Ontario, Canada. The town had a population of 5,194 year-round residents in the Canada 2011 Census, as well as summer residents sometimes referred to as “Islanders” because of the Thousand Islands in the Saint Lawrence River, Gananoque’s most important tourist attraction. The Gananoque River flows through the town and the St. Lawrence River serves as the southern boundary of the town.

My driving venture this afternoon began agreeably upon the heels of having cycled the customary 10 kilometres from home and back along the erstwhile railway right-of-way towards the Village of Rosebank. So enthused was I at the outset of my motor vehicle excursion – no doubt stimulated by the purgative effect of physical activity – that I decided to penetrate the southern limits of the Province instead of directing myself as I normally do northward into Renfrew County which is a slightly less protracted journey and somewhat more bucolic. Today however I was feeling an undeniable gusto which prompted me to consider traveling further abroad than usual. I was also recovering from an uncanny lack of appetite last evening. All matters appeared to be functioning properly once again!

To initiate my burgeoning zeal while en route I decided to attempt a telephone call to our dear acquaintances, George and Bobbie, from Longboat Key.  I was in luck, they were both home (in Maine) and able to chat.  After collecting the headnotes of our respective familial endeavours we lapsed into the predictable misery surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. The first and paramount observation was that carbohydrates have taken their universal toll upon the human race!  Only this evening for example we tucked into Nanaimo bars and butter tarts! Of more notable report was that all members of the clans are accounted for and handing the expected mandates and qualifications reasonably well. I say reasonably well because there is increasingly no denying that the weight of social distancing is wrecking havoc. The epidemic has succeeded to catapult modern society into a surreal amorphous state.

It seems that aside from this disorientation a collateral of the isolation is the enactment of discoveries, a welcome though painful translation. The traffic along the St. Lawrence River today was so sparse that I captured the sight of museums, restaurants and galleries which I had never before noticed.  Perhaps it was the lack of luncheon on the agenda at the Ivy Lea Club – or whatever else normally occupies us on these sorties – that enabled me to broaden my perspective of an otherwise familiar surrounding.

Because there was no place to visit along my route, I turned around after reaching Brockville and headed back home. The first stop upon my return was the car wash, then the grocery store (a commission for what began as merely bread and butter but which ended including mixed veggies and those Nanaimo bars and butter tarts I mentioned earlier). It is anathema to shop before a scheduled meal!

Armed with all these uplifting ingredients it was not until I had returned home and parked the car that things turned sour.  The bag of groceries on the back seat had broken. Liquid escaped from one or both of the veggie containers.  Luckily for me I had placed the plastic grocery bags on the back seat before setting the brown paper bag of groceries on top. During the pandemic the grocery store prohibits the use of the re-usable grocery bags.

Just as I was coping with the irksome broken paper bag and furiously adding the products item-by-item to the delivery cart to transport them to the apartment, one of the building residents passed by and commented that there appeared to be an oil leak from my car onto the garage floor.  We hadn’t noticed it previously because I park by backing in, then leave with the space behind me and out of sight. This process in reverse accounts for my ignorance upon return. The moment I returned to the apartment with my moistened collection of provisions, I called the car dealership. They were closed.  I emailed them instead – including the production of photos of the oil stains – and advised I would be on site no later than 7:30 am tomorrow morning.

Arrangements were subsequently made to clean the parking space. I have no intention of returning the car until it is repaired. It seems like only yesterday that I jokingly repeated the adage of a former friend in the retail automobile sales business that, “The first thing you do with a new car is beat it with a baseball bat then drive it through a barbed wire fence!” If I recall correctly the quip was addressed to friends who advised they had just purchased a used automobile – to which I pointedly replied that, “The only people I know who buy used cars are those who can afford not to!” Nonetheless in spite of the want of investment prowess when it comes to personal use automobiles I confess I am a hardened aficionado of the indulgence and am ever likely to remain so. Clearly the elemental disruption of an oil leak is poor ammunition for the addiction but if the past is any clue, I’m bound to repeat the infirmity within the year.

The post scriptum to this unfortunate account is that by any measure such minor inconveniences are clearly supportable. I just hate being reminded so succinctly that life has its ups and downs!