When I’ve traveled to places further away, with less contact and often less safety, my mother’s worries convinced me to keep a blog. Mostly, this was a way for her (and my grandmother) to ensure I was still alive. I thought a blog would ensure their piece of mind in a timely fashion.
However, I neglected to consider my grandmother’s aversion to technology. So instead of a quickly written blog that could be read online minutes after I wrote it, my mother would read the blog, print it, seal it in an envelope, and send it to my grandmother 4 provinces away. Technology Fail.
In the tradition of this counterproductiveness, my blog is now addressed to my grandmother. This way the snail mail she receives may be less confusing.
Just a quick word from the rails to let you know we’re doing well. Don’t know if mum told you, but the nice people at Via Rail are letting us play across the country on a train -18 performances in 6 days, from Halifax to Vancouver. We’re traveling with 2 guitars, a banjo, a tambourine, and a slew of harmonicas. Once we get out West, I’m playing a show at a lovely little place in Victoria called The Solstice Café. I’ll also be heading down to an island near Seattle to see a dear friend get married.
My room is approximately 4 feet by 5 feet. When I unpacked the instruments and a small suitcase, the room was full. No matter, I always like small spaces where I can curl up and stare out the window, so this will do quite nicely. It wasn’t until I boarded that I realized the enormity of what I’ll be seeing this week – thick forests in Northern Ontario, miles of fields in Saskatchewan, the Rockies – I haven’t seen the Rockies since we lived out West 20 years ago.
Right now we’re somewhere in Northern Ontario, between Capreol and Thunder Bay. Thought of you and Grandad while passing through Capreol; wondered how old you were when you lived here (probably about my age). It was easy to imagine this place in a different time; it’s a funny thing about the train, it feels almost timeless. It may have something to do with the furnishings, which are unapologetically 70’s chique, or the lack of technology (our iphones have been relegated to glorified alarm clocks in lieu of WiFi).
This whole experience feels quintessentially Canadian. The train, the scenery, the pace, is all a part of the country that I haven’t felt in awhile. Concrete sidewalks and busted schedules are replaced with trees, and more trees, and time to stare at these trees. No one around me is preoccupied with what they’re missing at home or online, and so it all drops away from me as well. I lose hours staring out the window without any sound other than the rails. It’s calming. I’m sleeping better. Instead of making to-do lists I’m playing Scrabble and looking for bears. No bears yet. Still hoping for bears.
And I’m writing. Almost immediately, I’m writing. It may have something to do with the Scrabble, but mostly I think it has to do with this abundance of time, and having space in my ears, whereas normally they feel full of sounds and thoughts and responsibilities.
By the way, if you get a chance can you send me your list of Scrabble words that involve ‘Q’ but no ‘U’? I’m getting killed.
All my love,