Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ontario Road

I'm on the book tour, which starts to seem endless. Airports and hotels. The only thing to do is to get in a car, get out of the city, find the country roads, and get lost. On Wednesday--no, Thursday--I headed out of Toronto, where I'm at the IFOA, for Belleville, Ontario, and a talk/reading the city's Public Library. Instead of zooming on the 401 freeway, I cut away at Port Granby/ Bond Head and followed a patchwork of little roads heading east along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The road wound its way through rich alluvial farmland and tiny Ontario towns: a Loyalist/Irish Protestant landscape, "the Front" as it was known in Susannah Moodie's day. I kept coming across tiny brick schoolhouses---"separate (Catholic) schools" from the days when public education in Ontario (and Quebec) was denominational.


The road was...well, let me put it this way: it was not the 401 Freeway.



It woke me up to a part of Canada that freeway travel had obliterated from my consciousness. The "Eat Slow" movement suggests we also need a "Drive Slow" movement, when we're driving at all...preferably in a recycled vehicle at least 25 years old.
           It's all in the details. You don't see anything at 70 mph. People hate driving now, and road trips, because their experience out there is on freeways, interstates, nowheresville fastfood colonies. There is a whole country out there. It's gorgeous and strange. I met a stonemason working on the 19th church at Wesleyville, ON, and he let me inside the building to have a look. Nothing fancy, but I do love that plainspoken Ontario style of brickwork. And the robin's egg blue paint was clearly the right choice. And the little organ has been there for 100 years.







 I found my way into the town of Port Hope, and signed some copies of The O'Briens at Furby's Books. These Ontario towns look & feel so (Co. Tipperary) Irish to me. Settled as they were by Irish (Protestant & Catholic) in the 1830s


Not all brick either. Lots of stone foundations and stone buildings from the mid 1800s.


And the Loyalists were here, even earlier, and did their best to rebuild Georgian New England in Ontario.

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