Saturday, October 1, 2011

Whales Outside My Window

I awoke to a usual Monday morning. The children taking far too long to get their clothes on. The breakfast requests and then the changing of minds when the food is put warm in front of them. A load of laundry is started. The school bus arrives and we scurry out the door to meet it, backpack in hand, coat swinging from one arm, the heels of her boots not quite in place. There are dogs who want food. Pigs who are starting to awaken hungry. A cat calling from the barn.

I decide to take a trip. My husband's suggestion. It takes nothing before I know where I want to go.

Where did I put my tent? There once was a time where a tent was my home, the wilderness my office. I would sleep in it for months at a time without complaint, year after year. Now I can't find it anywhere and when I do, I can't remember where the sleeping bags have gotten to. The propane tank is over a decade old. Which camp stove works again? This lighter, this knife, this flashlight. Do they still function?

Digging into my camping gear was like digging up an old self that I had packed away almost a decade ago when we bought this farm. My life is wider now in so many ways. Instead of a portable tent, I have 100 acres of permanence to roam.

On days like these, in months like these, I grow tired of the work, however. Who owns whom? When I try to hide away I see the work undone out every window. And my tired feet climb again into my muddy boots and I make good use of my hands.

I am going on a trip. I know a place where whales roam but 10 metres from the rocky shore line. I can pitch my tent there. It is but 10 hours of driving away. If I leave now I can return by the end of the third day of the week. In time to get ready for market again and take my daughter to her dance lesson. Lazy summers escape us here on the farm. And time spent enjoying the warm days on beaches or hiking trails is limited to the short windows between the essential work.

But I'm calling it. I want to see the whales. Every September in the past I would make my way over to watch them loll about in the St. Lawrence River. My vigilance is an ode to my life in the west where I spent a decade of my adult years. You can take the girl out of the west but you can't take the west out of the girl. And I need my whales.

I listen to music and eat out of a cooler packed with garden fresh fruits and vegetables as I drive. I do this for 10 hours. Then I pitch my dusty tent. And spend hour after hour immersed in the purple glow that casts itself over this fresh water ocean.

You can hear the whales before you see them. They warn you to look up from your book, your day dream, your reverie and watch as their dorsal fin rolls over the surface of the water. Sometimes if you are a lucky a tail will curl into the air. These creatures are large. Smooth. Black. Gentle. It is impossible to watch them and not be instantly immersed in peace.

I see more than a handful of whales before I sleep, and again over a tin cup as the sun rises again, a few more.

There are whales outside of my window.

And no, this isn't from some hallucination one might expect fitting of an organic farmer. I really did go there. Outside of Tadoussac, Quebec. I really did see them. 2.5 days gone from the bustle of my life.

What seems like an eternity of peace and perspective was gained.


  1. I've got a few days coming up. Can you give me directions? Can I borrow your tent? Seriously.

  2. Awesome. So encouraging to "just do it". I'm ruminating now! And can't stop seeing visions of sleek, black whales moving through a rolling sea. Darn you!:)


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