While I don’t wish to be anywhere else at the moment, we are nonetheless having to endure a mildly disconcerting state of suspension as we await President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States of America to announce what we anticipate will be the reciprocal opening of the border to Canadians for non-essential vehicular travel. It is a state of siege until that event occurs; and, for the present we haven’t the sense of commanding our own destiny. Nor have we the assuaging privilege to blame anyone. The pandemic is a blunt instrument of inescapable reality affecting us all.
The thought of spending another winter here in Canada has yet escaped us. Rightly or wrongly we have concluded that we’re on the precipice of change; and, that we’ll be entitled to swoop out of our northern nest to the Florida Keys by autumn. The admittedly fervent preoccupation has moderately tainted all else. Yet I am as always relishing life in Almonte, including in particular my aimless automobile drives between here and Glasgow Station.
For the past week or more the weather has been ideal summer weather – at times cloudy and balmy but mostly clear and dry. I’ve driven every day with the windows down and the landau roof open. No music, neither Sirius XM nor iPhone. The highway from Ottawa to Arnprior is normally wide open as well, a pilgrimage of folk from the urban commotion to the tranquillizing expanse of the countryside. It is a passage uphill and down; it winds through numerous large farms with magnificent vistas; over a meandering tributary of the Ottawa River; and, then I’m headed back again into the long drawn shadows with the sun at my back. Before I regain my personal territory in Almonte I am treated to the splendour of the road from the 5-span stone bridge in the Village of Pakenham to the four-corner intersection of the Village of Blakeney, a collection of surrounding stately farms punctuated by the ancient and aromatic elements of village life in what I was told by the late R. A. Jamieson, QC was once endearingly called the Village of Rosebank.
During these daily mechanical sorties I puzzle over circumstances, identifying the prominent people and periods of my lifetime, idly drifting between gratitude and recollection. Quite honestly the common theme is good luck. This may sound odd coming from one such as I who was literally thought to be incapable of getting over the surgeon’s table on more than one occasion. Likewise I have identified at least two instances when, upon my journey down river, the decision to go one way or the other has precipitated unparalleled and highly favourable consequences. I am naturally aware that the charm may run out; and, that as has been said, “We always knew the fun couldn’t last forever!” Until then however we – like so many others I suspect – have chosen to devote ourselves unabashedly to the crap shoot of a lifetime, wagering we’ll continue to surmount the early morning pains, overcome the constant reminders of decomposition and somehow perpetuate the inexplicable energy that fuels life and survival.