Friday, April 11, 2014

A Return to the Back Roads

One of our favourite family stories takes place in April in the mid-1970's. We were heading to my grandparents' house north of Cobourg, Ontario, for Easter dinner and my father decided to try a different route.
A back road route.
Beaver Meadow Road. A lovely sounding name but it wasn't so lovely on this spring day.
We were in my mother's new car, what we called the Little Red Renault, so it wasn't a big or heavy car; it was European, compact and light.
And it got stuck very easily mid-way along Beaver Meadow Road.
The Little Red Renault sunk into the mud right up to its axles.
My memory of this, and a vague one now, is walking back out the road in my new Easter outfit, shoes in hand while my tights got very, very dirty.
I wish I could remember what happened next -- I think we made it to Grandma and Grandpa's, I think Dad had to call a tow truck -- but details or not, that is my one and only Stuck In The Mud On A Back Road story.
If Wednesday just passed had turned out any differently, I might have had a new muddy road tale to tell.
My near-stuck experience didn't happen by choice; it happened because, as usual, I did a Bruce Springsteen: I took a wrong turn and I just kept going'.
Since it was two o'clock, my due date for an interview for my next "In Conversation With" column, I made a call.
"Crystal, it's a gravel road and I just drove over a set of rail tracks. Am I on the right road?"

 No, I wasn't. I turned too soon. See, I saw a sign that said Claremont and panicked. Even when I saw a sign indicating I was on the Old Halifax Road and not the Thomas Dickson Road as Crystal clearly told me to turn at when we set up this interview, I didn't turn around.
I kept going.
If this was a different essay, I'd now be extrapolating this as an analogy for my life -- took a wrong turn and I just kept going EVEN THOUGH I WAS PRETTY SURE IT WAS THE WRONG WAY!
I was just at the wrong end of the Claremont Road.

After driving for awhile on an increasingly muddy road, I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the right end.
(Crystal's warning that the road might be a bit muddy was a bit understated.)

It became worse than this, even narrower and even muddier, but there is no picture of that because I couldn't take my hands off the steering wheel since thick mud was pulling my wheels and I didn't dare stop for fear I wouldn't get moving again!
This is the moment when the City Girl in me started to worry.
Not about ruining my Blundstone's walking to Crystal's house; I was worried about the next call I'd have to make.My husband works for the Department of Transportation (Maintenance), at the garage in Oxford, and I really, really didn't want to have to phone him and say, "Honey, I took the wrong road and now the car is stuck in mud at the top of the Claremont Road."
If he had to leave work to rescue me from a mud hole on Claremont  Road, who knows how many co-workers would have to come along to help? I'd never live it down. Ever.

While I was gripping the wheels of my all-wheel drive CRV and wondering why I didn't pack snacks when I was heading into the Cumberland County wilderness, I also wondered why the heck anyone would live out here?
Then I glanced out the side window.

And this was on BOTH sides of the car. The top of Clare-mountain. Imagine if I'd had the proper footwear to get out of the car and climb on top of the crusty snowbank for a real panoramic view. What a fabulous view.
Crystal told me during our interview that when she and her husband first came to view their home, she knew it didn't matter the condition of the house, with a 360 degree view of Cumberland County, there was no way her husband wasn't buying this house.
I get that. View is good for the soul. You can ignore a lot of mud if you're always looking out at this view. 

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