It was a stony flat, with scattered brush. With the northern bush beyond, separating us from the road and the mountains. It was drizzling. I was shivering. We needed a fire. Quickly. We shifted to survival mode.
People were bustling about. The entity with the most bustle was our passenger. He wore a western hat. Now his lower face was whiter than white. Dazzling white. For it was bandaged now. Covered with sticking plaster.
At this point I recognized I was transitioning into that other state which we call, for lack of a better name, reality. I was leaving the country of dream.
And I was analyzing my experience in the country of dream. I remembered my father telling me, shortly before he died, of an accident he had when I was just a kid, a school kid. Living in Sherbrooke, Quebec. He was a trucker then, made a living buying firewood in the country and selling it to householders in the city to feed their stoves, for heating and cooking. I’d sometimes accompany him on these trips. One day, with a load of firewood, when he was alone, he was descending a steep hill, at the bottom of which was a sharp curve. He missed the curve because the brakes on the truck failed, so he and the truckload of wood went sailing off the shoulder, over the edge, and down, down through brush and boulders, arriving at the bottom somehow intact and upright.
Incredible. Something that happens only in a dream. And that’s one reason I grew up with a living father. Just incredible . . . luck. That I grew up with a living father. What else could you call it?
And I recognized the entity with the cowboy hat. It was Stompin’ Tom Connors. The hat was brown, not black, and the figure was short and stocky, not tall and rangy, but there was no doubt about it – it was Tom Connors, now adapting to another state, to another country, for he passed away two days ago. When I was on the road . . . with my father.
And now he was back, and bustling about, in service of our immediate needs. He had a bundle of sticks for our fire.
Why Stompin’ Tom Connors was there in that time and place, which is, of course, neither a time nor a place, I don’t know. Stompin’ Tom, one of the great folk heroes of our great country. No greater patriot has ever lived. Or passed away.
And as I lay there in bed, musing upon my experience in the country of dream, the tears streamed down my face. And I knew that if Olga should awaken and see me in that state, she’d be awfully worried. But she needn’t have worried, if she would have awakened, because I was deliriously happy. In my grief. Delirious.
And as I thought about this post which I’m writing in the country of now, I wondered which interpretation I should bring to the epiphany in that other country.
Some things I shall never understand. I do not know how Tom sustained his injury. But when I last saw him, he was healing.
So, for the purposes of this post, I decided I would explain why, two days ago, I drove a treacherous road to Thunder Bay in supreme confidence that I would arrive safely.
I am happy to report that I arrived safely.
And returned safely.
I trust I have expressed myself . . . adequately.