Lost in the Barrens
The motorhome slip-slided away across the frozen streets of l’ilest de vert, a hamlet three hours north of Quebec city, perched on the banks of the st. Lawrence. Defensive-driver courses finally serving their purpose and heeding mother’s advice, we kept our fragile, floating box-on-wheels at 40 km/hr. The intended target for our kindness container (the motorhome was bursting at its fiberglass seams with guitars, BBQ’s, blankets, and yoga mats) was a family-run hotel. Or was it a bed-and-breakfast? Maybe, a motel? hard to say, because, whatever it was, we never found it.
A fruitless search lasted for more than two hours, tracking and backtracking across the frigid town: cold hands knocking on countless doors; tied-tongues trying vainly to remember long-forgotten French lessons of long-lost years ago with uncomprehending locals. we covered eighty kilometers of dark, snow-drenched streets; first this way, then that, back again, too. Our destination seemed so simple to the locals, though, when we finally managed to get the message through: deux gauche, une droit, cinq minutes, pas de problem!
So. One last try. We Took the lefts, turned the rights, the minutes passed, and there we were. Finally! Val bounds from the motor home, road-manager Johnny dances in the snow. Right address, right street… But, as the puzzled owners of this residence explain, Wrong town... A collective sigh of frustration bursts from chapped lips. Stomachs were empty, tempers were teetering…stop! Give up. Push onto Fredericton.
Without a hotel to rest in, without a map, without a clue; we were left with one simple solution: explore the side roads until a nest could be found For our giant dodo-home. We bumped and bruised along rocky roads, coming to rest in a farmer’s field amongst snowdrifts and frozen cornhusks. For the next eight hours, snow blanketed the roof and bus became igloo.
The familiar ocean scent of the Atlantic pulled us towards the shores of eastern Canada, to the sands first stepped-upon by seafaring settlers. We longed for the slowed, healthier pulse of life the east-coasters embrace. compared to these atlantic towns, those big-and-bustling urban cities left behind seem an anxious bunch- their hearts jumping from the frantic pace of life. Whispers gathered over the past two months told us of a kind-Canada, a place unlike anywhere else in this vast country: A place where a smile from a stranger is reciprocated, car doors are left unlocked and neighbors actually know and help each other. maybe the generosity of strangers is more inherent in the maritime culture? maybe the harsh conditions of the atlantic necessitated the cooperation and community building that has carried over for generations? Or, maybe the bitter cold warps people, bending them into compassionate, caring citizens? Is there truth in the phrase “cold hands, warm heart”…? We were about to find out!
Our challenge to you: tell us your stories of random kindness. We want to give you the chance to inspire and create kindness! Sing us a sonnet, write us a haiku, print us some prose-we want it all!