May 28, 2022
June 1, 2022
This blog will read longer than usual, but with good reason. I started reading John Steinbeck’s book “Travels with Charley” in Montreal. I should have started earlier. He wrote about some things that, he asserts, only those who take the plunge to travel widely and meet people can understand. I sure did. His 1960 trip to 34 states lasted about 75 days. I will be on the road for 283 days.
While driving from Quebec to New Brunswick, I witnessed a fantastic vista. My eyes beheld a billowy, white fog embracing the tops of the rolling green hills of New Brunswick. It was truly spectacular. At that moment, I felt a freedom that I am sure Steinbeck sometimes felt. But I also realized something else. I realized that my journey to talk with people around the continent about their lives was not only about their stories but also about what I was experiencing.
Taking a cue from Steinbeck, I pulled off the main highway and stopped at a café in tiny Perth-Andover, where I ordered a local food, cream of fiddlehead soup. The waitress gave me the complete lowdown about the fiddlehead fern. I struck up a conversation with a family next to me and learned that they were from Maine. He was a big city boy from the “Brotherly Love” city, and she was a big city gal from “The Big Apple.” Why rural Maine? “Life,” he told me. I gave him my card.
I decided to take the back road to Fredericton, where, at times, I did not see a moving car for miles. But I was not alone. I had the soft rippling of the meandering St. John River to my right the entire way on Route 105. Sometimes, it got to within 20 feet of me. I think it was like a comforting friend and something only a nomadic soul on a journey could fully appreciate.
I truly felt free. It just took five cities, 80 pages of a book, and a gift from nature before it sunk in.
While my father’s brothers studied in Montreal, he bypassed a potential McGill experience to, I believe, study forestry at The University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. I posted a picture of the building with doors he entered (likely) in 1939. However, after contracting a severe case of rheumatic fever, his academic career at UNB was cut short. According to my mother, he was never the same man after that.
I also had contact with Dr. William Randall of St. Thomas University. His career is, like Dr. Dan McAdams, whose book I use, partly devoted to the narrative of one’s life. In his email response, he wrote that he had just met with McAdams in Atlanta at a conference he had helped organize. McAdams was a keynote speaker. Small world. I am sure to have an engaging conversation with Dr. Randall when he returns.
Well, I am off to the hometown of my youth, Halifax/Dartmouth in Nova Scotia. I will stay for an extended time, so I am confident that some exciting things will happen.