A year ago today we woke up in an RV after spending the night with our cats parked in front of a motel on the border of Quebec and New Brunswick.
We’d paid for a room but only to get the parking space. Covid protocols were wild and up until a few days earlier we hadn’t been sure we’d get the green light to travel at all, still didn’t know what would happen at the New Brunswick and PEI borders.
Anyway, we woke up in this rinky dink gravel parking lot where all night beside us was a small red car, motor running, and a group of (based on their clothing) young Amish or Mennonite folk with a parrot in a cage and a dog with a rope tied to its collar, both of which critters they kept taking in and out of their room for what seemed to be ‘walks’ or feeds from plates of scrap food. They were a highly excited group of kids, laughing, running about (maybe sixteen, eighteen years old, tops), not offensively loud just… overly happy for the time of day. It started to rain at one point and yet they still larked about, in and out of their room, the car still idling, until about 3 a.m. when we heard what sounded like car doors opening and closing and then (after much loading of wotnots)… they drove away. Bliss.
At the time it felt like sleep was important but now looking back, I’m grateful they were there. Grateful also for the night before, also spent in a parking lot (another room paid for but not used) and waking to watch a man in an electric company uniform doing tai chi beside an electric company van. I remember looking out the window of the RV as I ate my breakfast, thinking how little we know about people, how if I’d seen this guy doing his electric company work I would never have guessed that this is how he starts his day.
It’s no cliche, the journey is everything and we didn’t rush, not especially. Three days of driving and two nights in the RV, many picnic stops along the way. Lovely to have our own kitchen, bathroom and bedroom with us, felt like being a snail, travelling light yet impossible to forget anything. One of us drove the RV with the cats (who were fabulous) and I drove a pick-up filled with garden plants. My travelling companion in the passenger seat was an avocado tree given to me by my niece.
The plants have all survived, including the Ontario trilliums… that I only just discovered the other day, not yet blooming, but they survived the winter, and it was a thrill to stumble upon them; I’d forgotten I’d brought them and I’m just so glad they approve of their feet being in red soil.
A year ago today, after one last long day of driving, we pulled up in front of a house we’d never seen in person and it immediately felt like home.
There’s a good chance those young people were also heading to PEI; I’ve since learned there are sizeable Amish and Mennonite communities here. They were smart, we realized later, to cross borders at 3 a.m. — no line ups — and I often wonder about their drive, that small car crammed with feathers and fur and excitement, and sometimes wonder where they are now, how this year has been for them, if they, too, were in the process of moving from another province when our paths crossed, and I hope they, too, are happy to have their feet planted on this magnificent red soil.
And the parrot of course.
I hope the parrot is enjoying all the many pleasures of salted air.