The happy-looking fellow on the left is Andrew Middleton, one of our contract canoe trip guides. Andrew is a teacher in the off-season and like many people, finds a way to arrange his life so that he can spend as much time as possible in Algonquin Park during the summer. Unlike some, he has even found a way to get paid for going on canoe trips. He an excellent guide and usually, a very up-beat person. On a cold rainy day in Montreal. he had a moment of truth, and kindly offered to share with the world, on our blog. The story below is all his:
Reading the A.O. blog made me think of this moment a few weeks ago that made me ill. I thought it would be very good therapy to write it out. All it did was make me want to paddle. but it is raining. and cold. (Perfect...)
Hope all is well
Life in the %*@#& Mean City
It hit me when I was stuck in traffic. There I was; 7:30 in the morning in Montreal, drinking cheap gas station coffee from a travel mug on highway twenty at the thirteen merge.
There was on one side of me this cheese ball teenage something or other, probably on his way to school or at best a telemarketing gig. His bright orange Honda Civic had a muffler that made my spine vibrate and the loud, pulsating techno music was annoying enough that I had to crank up my talk radio so the arguments and political babble at least made the oomph oomph go away. As usual, my lane was the slowest. Then my accepted, humble existence I knew it that moment ceased to exist. On my right, creeping with an odd limp and a bounce in the rear that can only mean busted shocks was an old beat up green Land Cruiser. On its roof was an equally beat up red Swift Dumoine. I almost had an accident.
What a dichotomy. Every aspect of life I detest to my left, with the cheese ball techno racing tuner orange car guy, and on the right, everything that I love and think that is right in the world: old trucks with Swift canoes on their roof, ready to roll.
The players of this calm September morning didn't have a clue what impact they had on my day. As I made my way to my job and the hallowed halls of public school, ready to educate our nation's youth, I was overwhelmed by the immediate and seemingly innate desire to turn and run. Run back to my home, cast to the side responsibility and paychecks, hoist my boat to the roof and take off to the great wilds of the near north and disappear, at least until the snow fell. I could manage; maybe I could fake an illness. Kidney stones would do nicely; an injury that would allow me to both run away and still come back in a reasonable timeframe and resume my job. I have a Visa card; I think there is still room on it. I could just drive to Renfrew, and put in at Achray. Maybe I could just head west until I ran into Georgian Bay, or maybe just to Canoe Lake. Maybe I could just go down to the water and paddle around the infested waters on Montréal Island for the day. Maybe, maybe, maybe I just needed to go to work and forget about it. It couldn't happen, at least not today.
I wish I could just move back to Oxtongue Lake where the dual life of business and pleasure meet and the enmeshment of the two are possible. I wish I could sit at my desk and see mist. I wish I could walk in the woods and not run into a mowed lawn every ten steps. I wish that when I go paddling in the afternoon I didn't have to paddle by million dollar homes with their ignorant punk teenagers who hit golf balls at me. I wish, I wish and I wish some more. But now I shall simply be relegated to the unenviable task of living in the smog and concrete collecting my pay, watching the lanes that I am not in carry the lucky folks and their Dumoine off into the urban jungle I call home. Summer shall soon return and I with it.