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The Great Trail



“She were preddy nice, hein.”


“Who?”


“Dat woman at Chapters in… what city was dat? I forgot.”


“Sudbury, Thierry. And the manager on duty at Chapters that day was Tara Schroeder.”


Thierry and I are nearly halfway between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. So far, the route between those cities has been very pleasant.


“Tara were kinda surprise you is riding dis bike all de way to Vancouver. She say she never been out west.”


“And except for a couple of visits to Ottawa, I’ve never seen any of Ontario. Also, I’ve never been east of Québec City. Canada is a big country.”


“Look out!”


A tree has fallen across the road. Since leaving Sudbury we have been mostly following the Trans Canada Trail – or the Great Trail, as it sometimes styles itself.


“Dis is like one o’ dos scene in dat old movie about Robin Hood. Dey cut down de tree to stop the wagon and all de Merry Men jump out and rob de rich.”


“Pretty sure this was just the wind. It’s been blowing pretty hard the last few days.”


Here, at least, the Great Trail is really just a series of alternative routes to get you off the Trans Canada Highway. Mostly quiet roads meandering past fields and pastures. Very little traffic. The fallen tree occupies only one lane and part of the other. We pass by easily.


“So why you gotta sign dat book what you wrote?”


“What?“


“Back at Chapters. How come you signed dos book?”


I think for a minute.


“Well, Thierry, a book isn’t just a product that you buy and use. It is more like a relationship. The words are just a medium connecting two imaginations – the author’s and the reader’s.”


“So how is yer signature helpin’ dat… umm… ‘relationship’?” He waggles his eyebrows suggestively.


“I’m not sure. Maybe it makes the author a little more tangible.”


“What dat mean?” He yawns.


“Tangible? Sort of… real. Less remote. Closer to the person reading the book. Just two people telling a story together, I guess. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s like a painter signing a painting. That way it doesn’t feel like just a copy. It feels personal.”


I look down. Thierry has fallen asleep tucked under the strap holding my sleeping bag to the front rack. Maybe I was boring him. Maybe he just can’t completely break his nocturnal sleep habits. Maybe both.


I steer back onto the Trans Canada Highway. In about ten kilometres we will find another section of the Great Trail. Happily, the portions of the Trans Canada officially designated as part of the Great Trail usually have a wide paved shoulder next to both east and west bound lanes. For the past one hundred and fifty kilometres some genuine highway infrastructure has been built to keep vehicles and bicycles at a safe distance from one another.


That has seldom been the case, so far, and I doubt that will be the case the whole route. Baby steps, though. A lot of things seem impossible until you just do them.

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Lynn van Deursen
Lynn van Deursen
Jun 20, 2022

"a lot of things seems impossible until you just do them" - love these words of encouragement - thanks.

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