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Jul 09, 2018
Every summer of my childhood, my family of 6 would pile into our station wagon and make the 8hr drive from Mississauga to the Eastern Townships, in Quebec, to visit my grandmother. Being the youngest and the smallest, I would get to camp out in the back with the family dog, separated from my siblings by all the gear. I'd have a sleeping bag and a pillow, paper, crayons and a pile of books. I'd lie back there, listen to the music, stare out the window and daydream.
Note: This was before seatbelt laws, when you could do that kind of thing and not get arrested. Don't try sticking your kid in the back now unless there is a proper seat with a seatbelt. We would sometimes ride in the back of pickup trucks too. And I'm pretty sure you could get on a motorbike without a helmet if you wanted. It was the 70s.
The Appalachian mountain range runs through the eastern part of Quebec. The highway that connects Toronto to Montreal is a beautiful drive (when you are not actually in either city), with the road being like a valley that had been blasted out of solid rock. As a kid I loved watching those rock walls fly past... I imagined I could see things emerging from them... faces, animals, birds... I always wanted to get out and touch them. Just run my hands over the jagged edges and veins of colour, maybe see if the life I saw was actually there. Of course that never happened. It'd be a death wish to stop on the side of the 401. My dad knew that, but I was always a little disappointed.
We took my mom along this time. We were going to her childhood home and she hadn't been back in probably close to a decade. It was an interesting experience for me... I got to hear stories from her youth I had never heard before. We went places she remembered but I had never been to. The area took on new meaning for me. It was always where family was, a summer get-away spot, but seeing it as an adult meant seeing it for what it had become. And I totally fell in love.
Travel is a way to experience things outside my everyday existence. Being immersed in a different culture brings new and surprising revelations about how we live in comparison to others. Having lived in the Toronto area my entire adult life, I spend much of my time dealing with things that are the norm for city dwellers... pollution, traffic, crowds, concrete, skyscrapers... my everyday consists of driving through traffic to a job where I am surrounded by people then back home where I attempt to carve out a place of tranquility for my family. My place to commune with nature is my backyard, and the occasional jaunt to the local park by Lake Ontario, which I cannot even ride my bike to without risking my life. Every time I visit somewhere smaller and less chaotic, I see a difference that convinces me that we are doing it wrong here. Life can be a whole lot less stressful if we just adopt a different version of what success looks like.
I returned from my holiday refreshed and relaxed, and ready create. I imagine my work will change, much like it did after my month in Portugal in 2017. I have many new images to pull from, and new memories to inspire me.
The Abbey at St. Benoit du Lac
A field overlooking Lake Memprémagog, with the mountains in the distance
A beach along the Gaspé Peninsula. My husband's family is from Newfoundland, and we met up for a visit in the Gaspé. Beautiful place.
The sun sets along the Gaspé.
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