Reflections on a river sailed
11 July 2007 | Along the Gaspe coast
Reflections on a River sailed
Well we have now entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the Gaspesie coast and have successfully transited the St. Lawrence from very near its source in Lake Ontario. A milestone successfully attained leads to a certain amount of reflection. We have been gone for three weeks and Beth's log postings give a sense of what we have encountered and experienced during that time.
For me this has been a period to decompress and to de-stress. It has been surprisingly easy to ignore the news and all the office issues that only a few days ago seemed important, occupying so much time and energy. Sailing this river and experiencing the cities, towns and villages along its path has taken me back to my youth. Life was really quite simple then (at least for me as a child) and it is simple again. The preoccupation is the weather and whether or not it will be fit "to go out and play". No worries about anything else in the adult world.
But for me the analogy runs deeper than that. I grew up in a small Nova Scotia community along the main road leading from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. That was before the construction of the four lane highways that bypass the small towns and even the cities from one end of Canada to the other. In those days, every vehicle coming into Nova Scotia had to pass through the streets of my home town- and we had traffic jams during the summer months. Many of those cars stopped so the passengers could reprovision or just stroll through town. We met interesting people from all across North America and they got a sense of who we were and how we lived. That all changed with the modern highway.
The St. Lawrence is like the old highways of my childhood. The river is too big to change. It still winds along small towns and big cities. Freighters from all over the world pass by connecting the inhabitants of the communities in a certain manner to the rest of the world. As sailors, we pull into those communities to rest and to reprovision or to seek shelter from the weather. We meet the people living there as well as our fellow travellers from Canada, the United States and even Europe. We take time to talk to strangers, to learn about them and their community and to accept their many offers of help along the way. The St. Lawrence is a spectacular river. It affords a glimpse of eastern Canada that you cannot get from the highway or from the sky. The pity is there are not more people out here re-connecting with their roots and discovering the astounding similarities and the enriching differences we all share as citizens of the world.