Canadian flagA meandering relationship with all things Canadian comes to mind as I embark on the final leg of my Gypsy journey. Traversing through this country played a significant role in my emotional development, from childhood to adulthood to senior citizen. Each trip, with the exception of the first, provided leeway for loving Canada. For this reason I selected Orangeville, Ontario, to conclude my adventure as a way of traveling full circle in my lifespan. (p225)

I often wondered if Canadians were different from us and if their shoreline is as rocky as ours. My family told me that Canada is a friendly country, but I was skeptic after Canadian soldiers invaded our side of Lake Eerie. (p226)


silver cabin

Not long after my initial exposure to Canada’s soldiers my family dragged me on a camping trip to Burnt River in Ontario, Canada. We crossed the USA/Canadian border in Buffalo, New York. The men came to fish; the women were destined to cook the fish, trout to be exact. I suppose my only purpose was to discover how much I hated everything about camping. I was perfectly satisfied living in the city; the great outdoors was not appealing. Besides, I was still wary of our northern neighbor. All the same, what I thought inside never made it to my lips, and even if it had, it wouldn’t have changed things, so off I went with my family. Deep down I was scared and uneasy–everyone else was excited. (p227) …

me and aunt jeanne at the outhouseIt wasn’t until we ventured inside the cabin that I understood there was no indoor plumbing (or maybe I was the only one who hadn’t been told). The upshot of this fostered an unpleasant thought: we would be forced to walk outside and into the woods to use the bathroom. The biggest, most disgusting part of camping was using an outhouse. I refused to go there and instead left my waste and tissues at the base of many pine trees. (p228)

Mother and I carried buckets down the steep descent to the river to collect spring water. On the way down, I started counting the days till we’d be back home to indoor plumbing. I convinced myself that after this wilderness adventure, I’d appreciate city life even more so. …

scanNow you need to know that this part of Burnt River is far from tame. Fast and furious rapids are plentiful because of the hilly terrain. Flat, bed-size rocks protrude at an angle in the fast-running water, which border the bank on our side of the river. The surface of the rocks is smooth, but traversing them on a slant is tricky.

… That’s when I spotted my first snake. It was fat and gray, coiled up in between my mother and me. When I screamed, “SNAAAAAKE!” my mother (precariously hunched over the water on a rock that slanted downward) almost slid into the rapids. I froze, unable to help her. Fortunately, she hung on and pulled herself back up, but she suffered a long, bloody scrape down the side of her leg.

When we came home that summer, I was convinced I’d never return to Canada. I also knew I didn’t like the wilderness, an outhouse, snakes, bears, and on and on. My checklist of things I despised grew. I decided to start a list of things I cherished, knowing that would be far more enjoyable. (p230-231)