The racoons come to say good-bye on my last night.
Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.Mother Teresa
The city was enshrouded in mist as Alexis and I headed out across the Lions Gate Bridge. Giant sea-going tankers lumbered at anchor in the bay below the bridge as a lone sailboat scuttled amidst them, heading across the bay towards the shelter of its dock. Traffic flowed steadily, streaming into the downtown core, carrying people in an endless stream to work, to play, to bed, to places they needed to be.
After dropping my daughter off at her destination, I head eastward, back towards Calgary.
I like the feeling of going against the flow. Of pushing off in my own direction as others drive in theirs.
By the time I hit the high plains the sun has burnt through the cloud to reveal clear blue sky above. Around me, the Nicola Valley spreads out in a wide swathe of golden fall colour.
I open my sunroof. Light pours in. Wisps of wind play with my hair. I keep driving.
The words of C.C.s text to me as I left flutter through my mind.
Sing loud Smile lots Stop often.
Those are great words to live by, always, Alexis tells me when I tell her C.C.s driving instructions.
Good point! I smile. To myself as I drive. Who cares? No one's watching but me!
This road is rich in history for me. Memories stored in a long ribbon of highway, they sprawl across the terrain, unwinding as I travel along the road in either direction. They are memories that unfurl like the yellow line colours the asphalt, a continuous stream of sunny thoughts that keep me company as I drive.
I remember the car laden with belongings, my daughters in the backseat. On holiday. Travelling westward to the far edge of Vancouver Island for our annual trip to Tofino. Singing out loud. Laughing, full voice. Girls sleeping. Girls reading. Me driving. Sharing stories. Playing games. I Spy. Name that place. Alphabet soup. Tell a story. Quick. 30 seconds. End to beginning.
Today, I drive alone. Memory my companion. I smile in memory of my week.
It was a fabulous trip. Rich with people and learning and growing and stretching. Rich with incredible weather, special places and rich with song.
Don Bray moves me down off the high plains into the interior. I speed along the lakeshore, sunlight glittering on the water. Fairy dancers laugh in the sun as Ahmad Baabahar's blues sweep me into the dark green forest. Light dances through towering firs, streaming onto my head.
Alyssa Wright's soulful cello and sultry voice serenade me as I climb into the Rockies.
My friend's from Gabriola carry me as I travel along the road. I am in heaven. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, towering fir trees marching endlessly along their sides until the air becomes too thin for them to breathe, the soil to rocky for roots to settle in.
I sing outloud with Andrea Boccelli in Italian I cannot speak. My soul soars to Keith Jarrett's wild piano virtuoso accompanying me through Roger's Pass.
I am coming home. Coming back to this city sprawled out along the foothills of the Rockies. Far from ocean views and sweeping vistas that call me into the horizon. "I Blame the Horizon" Don Bray sang on Gabriola.
I blame the sea.
It's depths awash within me. It's silky waters washing through me.
I blame the sea for pulling me ever westward, for calling me away from home.
At the ocean floor I am inspired, transformed, transported.
Here on wide-open prairie I search for a way to hold onto that feeling of effortless joy that cascades through and in and around me while playing by the sea. I struggle to keep the magic visible.
I know it is there. Always. I know it is not created by 'the place', but rather, is a place within me. Like a kayaker on the river, I need only become part of the flow to find it, feel it, know it.
I tap into the reservoir of joy within. Sun filters through the trees in the back yard, apples turning red, leaves turning golden. A squirrel bounces along the garage roof, leaps to a tree branch, scurryings down the trunk to join his friend busily eating birdseed that has fallen from the feeder.