“Human life is as evanescent as the morning dew or a flash of lightning.”
I don’t know why it bothered me as much as it did. Bear had been away before. But somehow, Vancouver was scarier to me than Montreal. All I know is when I hugged him just before he walked out the door, I was overcome with fear I might never see him again. Ridiculous.
Yet I was a mess. When presented with the option of taking the day off, I took it, curled up with Natalie Goldberg, and read myself calm again. I decided to take the next day, find a picnic table in some isolated part of the wilderness, and spend the day writing, or painting, or something. I’ve been feeling kind of empty lately, like I had nothing more to give. Like I had no purpose. I needed to adjust my focus. It was good to have a plan.
Plans, however, don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. Mine was to arrive at Bear Lake around lunchtime, enjoy my indulgent picnic lunch and spend the day amid silent trees on the shore of the lake. What I forgot is that it was Saturday. On a long weekend. There were people everywhere. I still managed to find myself a table away from the crowd, but people weren’t the only issue.
I was prepared for cold. I was prepared for rain. What I wasn’t prepared for was a wind so strong my eyes teared to the point of sightlessness. I couldn’t tell if my camera was in focus because I couldn’t see. I took a few pictures anyway, hoping for the best, and decided to move on.
I found a side road not far from the lake and turned in. The pond looked still, but was fed by a lively, noisy little stream. Sheltered from the wind by the cliff on one side and trees on the other, I set up my picnic lunch on the passenger seat and sat on my walker. At the first rustle of food, the Whiskey Jacks showed up – four of them. When they realized there would be no easy access to food, the “camp robbers” soon departed.
The location was perfect for my lunch, not so much for writing or painting. Time again to move on. Thinking I’d take Glenrosa Road back to West Kelowna, I headed off in that direction. When I reached the intersection, I impulsively decided to pop by Jack Pine Lake to see if I could find a table with less wind. Again, that thing about plans.
I was on the wrong road. Oh, I realized it about ten minutes in, thought about turning back and decided against it. I knew where I was. I had been on this road before. Well, almost. It was back in November of 2019. I was in the Grand Prix, snow drifts everywhere, and wearing flip flops. I wanted to take the road but didn’t want to make the Darwin Awards for death by stupidity. Today was different. Today I could finally find out exactly where this road went.
It was a wonderful day for driving. The forecast had been for rain, snow in the higher elevations, but those high winds had driven most of the clouds from the sky. Aspen leaves dropped like gold coins from the sky, and every corner offered new and wonderful things to see. I even managed to forget my fears for a while.
“When you are present, the world is truly alive.”
– Natalie Goldberg
I was so emersed in the drive and the sights I didn’t notice the sky was changing again. Dark clouds were forming, giving the fire-ravaged trees near Windy Lake a haunted look.
My phone pinged to announce incoming email, and I jumped. I had been without cell service for a while, no one knew where I was. Quickly, I pulled over and dashed off a quick email to Jaki with my approximate location and estimated time of return. Knowing she would send out, hell, probably even lead a search party if I failed to return, I comfortably set out again, determined to see the end of this road.
There was evidence of previous snowfall on the side of the road, but so far, no more than a sprinkling of rain had fallen. The road was not paved, but neither was it the bone-jarring washboard I started out on. I wasn’t writing or painting, but damn I was having a good time.
Coming around a corner, I had to pull over to fully grasp what I was seeing. High above the forest on the mountain ridge were wind turbines. I knew exactly where I was. Those were the same wind turbines I’d seen from a much different angle along the Okanagan Connector. That’s where I was?
After all that worry about Bear being on the Coquihalla, I was going to end up there myself unless I wanted to turn around and spend another five hours going back the way I came. As much fun as it had been, I was getting too tired to take that option. It was still a lovely, twisty 15 km or so before I joined up with the Connector, 60 km from home. Oops.
So maybe I didn’t spend my day writing or painting. I spent it doing something I loved, feeling richer for the experience, and less anxious by far. Bear, by the way, had a wonderful time in Vancouver, making it home safely in time for Thanksgiving dinner. I have much to be thankful for.