I’ve just gotten back from a mini road trip. DH went into the backcountry with a ski buddy and Little e and I took a drive to Victoria to visit friends. Given the horrific events in the news over the past week, I thought it would be good to do something restorative. On the drive down, as my wee sidekick slept in her car seat and Raffi sang about getting together, I thought about what makes road trips fun. For me, it’s several things. Good times with friends, of course, and seeing new places, but beyond that, it’s the little narratives. Little stories that happen instantaneously on the side of the road, or in a sign or restaurant window, that give a sense of the macrocosm I live in and sometimes forget about. The thing that connects us, but that we often ignore for the finer details of our own lives.
Oh, and also good food. What’s a road trip without good food?
Our first stop was Cowichan Bay, and steps from the car was this tangle of driftwood and flowers with a political message. Every piece arranged by hand and with purpose. The kind of art that some people find a big mess, others naturally stunning. Was this a group project, or the work of a single artist? Thousands of people walk by this every year; I wonder what varied reactions it gets, whether it starts discussions between the onlookers. The best art does.
Then Little e and I walked around Cowichan Bay together, me snapping photos and her smelling flowers by exhaling on them. We met Molly by the museum. She was gracious enough to be in one of the photographs. She’s still a pup and earning her sea legs by living on a boat. This was her first trip to dry land in a few days. I love the interactions between dogs, dog owners and kids. Little e is enamoured with dogs and I’m so grateful when people take the time to stop and let her love their pets. There’s always a story–name, breed, quirks, favourite place to be scratched. Sometimes it feels like our days are going from one dog encounter to the next, and that’s okay with me.
Next, I had to duck into True Grain Bakery, which mills its own grains, of course, and also makes excellent Eccles cakes. I’ll admit, Eccles cakes have never before inspired me. I guess I was always entranced by more flashy, icing- or fruit-covered things. This time I bought one. Little e and I shared it. We are sold. Bonus: I looked it up, and this pastry has a nice little history. I love it when food has history.
Later, in Victoria, in an area where the city surrounds farm land on all sides like it’s protecting it (which sometimes it isn’t), my friend told us the story of the hobby farm five minutes from her house, which has been there forever, now run by a friendly old couple who likely get up at about the same early hour as me, except they’re tending sheep and chickens (I’m just making sure the toddler has some kind of supervision). You can buy a dozen fresh eggs by ringing the farmer’s “egg selling” doorbell and handing them four dollars (petting the cat while you wait for them to answer). And on Easter Sunday, my friend walked her dog beside the farm’s sheep field and saw a minutes-old lamb stagger up from under its mother, umbilical cord still attached. Here is the same lamb a few weeks fluffier. Don’t lambs look so fresh? Maybe it’s the contrast with the older, um, woolier adults.
And finally. I don’t know why a lost duck mattered more to me than a lost dog or cat, but at that moment, I really wanted to look for him. Maybe because it was unexpected, maybe because I have a soft spot for Muscovies. This is my favourite story of the trip, and I think that’s because it requires the observer to finish the story, and how they do so says a lot about them. The glint in his eye makes me think he knows his way home, but wants to have an adventure first. He may also have some ninja moves up his…wing. I’m going to go with that.
Hope you come across some good stories this week.