At the sight of early morning light mixed with the sound of the poplar leaves descending all yellow gold heavenly from above, fluttering onto the the fly of the tent then sliding down the sides, I am awake now though curled up snug inside my sleeping bag as autumn commences its charming grace. Me being the kind of guy that would be remiss if I didn't drop everything to travel 8 hours of blacktop one lane through Sleepytown North America, past combines, tractors, rockfaces, school yards full of kids so sweet and oblivious to the change and ever changing symphony of colour and light and temperature, and cycling of season surrounding every single inhale of that crisp fall air. So I do, and as I said, drop everything and leave.
Bob Seger sings his songs on the radio, the miles start stacking up as by now I'm slowing into Deep River, though just how deep? We may never know. These highways are like wagon trails into outposts you didn't know existed, with people you didn't know were here either. I wonder about them, their lives, what drives them to get out of bed in the morning, what the highlight of their day might be, whether they're sad - I mean this place looks a little sad, and maybe that sadness projects itself over the people who live there, or maybe it's just me.
Anyway, awhile later and there's the Ottawa River pumpin' away down the right, wide flat and tranquil as all hell, rock cliff walls as if to contain the uncontainable, stuck between dam after dam of power prone hydro electric barrier and as long as they run, the lights stay on I guess, yet suppose we lost something even greater in doing so. Even so, there we are coasting along, blasting down the highway if you'd call it that - this one lane stop-for-everything-beautiful and take a photo to show the ones who'd never come up here unless they were forced to once yer' back home. As I said before, we're haulin' highway miles behind summer rubber black top, Blue Zephyr hummin' along like nothing and nobody else in the world even does or ever did exist, counting lakes and rivers and blue jays and maples, hours upon hours of it like we had no direction at all.
Winding down and into Mattawa, slowing before the roundabout and then under the trestles that cut cross big river O' and follow the opposite bank, here I am secretly wishing this was our destination. How long would i last here before i got restless? It always happens and always has. I get to thinkin' maybe (probably) isn't the place at all but my restless baby soul in need of motion, or travel, or momentum. Something to rock me back to internal peace. I get shaky, jittery, can't stop moving until that type of momentous travel withdrawl beast is satisfied with endless new places and views and smells and things to think about - hell, if I could get the same feeling from books, I'd lock myself in a tiny blacked out apartment somewhere nobody would ever find me and travel the world through the pages of all of them, just infinite walls covered in books about other people in other places and not pay much mind to what they were doin' so much as I'd be sucked into where they were and what it was like.
That isn't the case. Never has been though I do enjoy my reading, and time spent writing about the places I go. Trips like that get my mind pondering about just writing books for a living, making no money in societies' eyes but living a writers life of valuing the words that describe that which transpires around me and those around me, having something to say and saying it, and all the while attempting to avoid self destruction.
Gladly as it might seem, the glades of pines along the sandbars bulking the river can be just as haunted as those things that sober the soul. Ghosts can move through them, demons poising for attack, the places that looks peaceful enough can be holding cataclysmic anomolies we don't expect to find, let alone those horrors that somehow manage to find us no matter where we go, and indeed here I am thinking that escape is once again at hand - that we've put enough miles behind me and them, that they can't navigate their way this far north, that if I just get deep enough into the Crown Lands and find a nice quiet place back in the Birch, they'll never find me here, and of course I realize this is all nonsense yet something in the back of my mind tells me it's worth a shot, so here we go.
Here we go heading north still and soon into Quebec, faster speed limits, quiet little agriculture towns with corn row barriers and openess set against the Soy fields and Corn fields and wide open spaces where you can see anything coming from a long ways' away. And the whole way up, one sleepy town after another - nothing much going on except for the hum of some Case tractor back somewhere. Somewhere...you bet. 'We are really "somewhere" now' I think to myself quietly, not noticing that Bob Seger stopped crowing an hour ago and the playlist has moved straight on into Red Wanting Blue. The old man keeps exclaiming the sheer size of all these fields, so much bigger and vastly inconceivable as they seem more like prairie than nestled between the breasts of the Canadian shield, yet there they are all prairie-like and massive.
There's really not much left to say about it. This is an escape. An unspoken escape where things back south at home have caught up to me. It's the unknowing of what the hell to do. I'm the writer who's words won't pay his debts, put food on the table, or put a downpayment on that little brookside cottage where I can live out the rest of my days writing non-fiction about whatever the hell I want. It's the space in my bank accounts as empty and massive as those fields with the combines working them and gliding along next to them, I make the sad realization of what a metaphor those combines harvesting all that grain have become to me.
And though I always find adventure when I go north, I realize I never really find the answers.