I have removed myself to the Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy Room of my local library. It’s my favourite place to write. I like sitting here among all the magical worlds of other writers while I create my own, not-so-magical, one. If I stay at home, it’s too hard for me to resist the urge to play games and check Facebook instead of write. I really am a very undisciplined person at times, especially, for someone who prides herself on her Capricorn-ian focus and organizational skills. Actually, today there’s an additional reason to retreat from home and come here. My cleaning lady, Maria, is there doing her own kind of magic ridding the house of enough cat hair to stuff a small sofa. I don’t know how she does it, but am always thankful after one of her monthly visits. Some people roll their eyes and say, to me, “It must be nice to afford a cleaning lady.” It is not said in friendship. I tell them boldly that Maria is not a luxury, my friend, she is a necessity and if they saw my living room rug before and after one of her visits they would agree.
It’s very quiet in this room today but then the whole city is quiet. Whenever there is a holiday weekend in Toronto, the city seems to empty out except for me and a few others. Starting on Thursday, folks pack up their Volvos and Range Rovers with canoes and tents and enough booze for a month and head for the wilderness just a mere two hours away. By the time they get there and unpack the car and set up that tent, it’s time to come back. I just never got it myself. My first summer here, the silence that followed their exodus freaked me out a bit. No one had explained this particular ritual of the Canadian experience to me. I mean one day the city is hopping and the next, Poof, everyone disappears. It really was quite weird. That first summer holiday, I felt like that guy in Dylan’s Talkin’ World War lll Blues. In DC, folks would go to the shore for the weekend or up to the mountains, but not everyone at one time. Who would have been around to push the red button and keep an eye on the world, eh?
Am I really just jealous of all of them taking off for the lands of fresh air, loon calls, moose sitings and millions of black fly bites? A little bit, for sure. But, in reality, I am not an outdoors kind of girl in the least bit. Maybe it has something to do with my auto-less childhood which did not give the Eyermans a way to escape to the wilderness to commune with nature. I’ve always loved, loved, loved the idea of it all (except for the black flies and outhouses). I could picture myself sitting around a camp fire, singing Gordon Lightfoot songs, swigging a cold beer and watching falling stars. But my idyllic picture gets a little fuzzy when I think about getting out of a tent in the middle of the night to walk through the dark to an outhouse. That is not my idea of a good time. After all, I was challenged just taking a little walk in the woods a couple of weeks ago without a mosquito or charging moose to trouble me (Harriet Answers the Call of the Wild). I think the best way for me to experience nature at this point in my life is to hold out for an invitation to a “civilized” cottage in the woods with indoor plumbing, a mosquito net, an easy walk to the beach and a five-star chef serving dinner while we comfortably sit around the fire humming Kumbaya in between bites.