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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Montreal to Cortes Island & Patrick Leigh Fermor

My cousin RM drove me to P-E-Trudeau Airport to catch a 7AM flight for Vancouver. Changed planes in Calgary, arrived YVR on schedule. Caught a Coastal Mountain Air (Beechcraft turboprop) flight to Campbell River BC. I was supposed to take a launch/water taxi from Campbell to Cortes Island but it was blowing 30 knots out in Georgia Strait with a strong tide and very big seas--the launch wasn't running...

Which meant catching the ferry to Quadra Island, then a taxi across Quadra, and another ferry from Heriot Bay on Quadra I. across Sutil Passage to Whaletown, on Cortes Island.
Below, one of the Quadra Island fishing fleet. Salmon, of course. Usually "chum", which are canned, or exported to Japan. They use gill and seine nets...
It had been a long day and it wasn't over yet, so between ferries I had dinner and a pint at the inn at Heriot Bay on Quadra...
..then jumped on the ferry for Cortes Island...


 Someone from Hollyhock, the retreat center where I'm leading a writing workshop, was supposed to meet me at the ferry landing on Cortes....or so I'd been told...
....but no one did. What that meant was standing with my bags at the landing... 







 watching the last cars drive away. Then watching the ferry steam away...
 and wondering how the ____ I was going to proceed. Cortes is a pretty big island, with a very small population, and wolves, bear, and even a cougar. There wasn't a house or car or person in sight. It was getting dark. My phone worked but all I got as voice mail when I tried phoning Hollyhock, which was miles away, at the opposite end of the island...
I'd been reading A Time of Gifts since I boarded the plane at Montreal. Patrick Leigh Fermor's account of a walk from London to Constantinople when he was eighteen is a wonderful book. I've not read anything quite like it before. Having been all day in the company of Paddy Fermor, intrepid wanderer, I understood that being stranded in the dark on the pier at Cortes was, in fact, no big deal. "What would Paddy do?" Well, probably he'd start walking. Even if he didn't know where the road led. In fact not knowing where the road led was always, for Paddy, a good reason to start walking. 
Almost all roads down to ferry landings on the BC coast and islands have long steep inclines, of course, which meant a steep slog uphill, carrying luggage. Finally I stowed the biggest bag behind a Douglas Fir, hoping I'd be able to find it again. And kept going, until at last a single solitary car appeared. Conscious of my vibe as a large male, certainly odd- and possibly threatening-looking, I stuck out my thumb in what I hoped was a meek and charming manner. The driver, a single woman, kept going, and I didn't blame her--it was dark and lonely and I'm sure with my tweed jacket and unshaven all-day-travelling demeanor I looked like a creature from another planet. However, 200 yards down the road, she slowed, stopped, started backing up. I told her my tale and she invited me into the car. We stopped to pick up her friend and together these two women drove me across the island to Hollyhock, where I found my way to my room and sleep. 


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