Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day 117 Winter comes, winter goes, winter comes again...

After a brief advance to springtime, winter has returned, to my delight  The journey out of Onterio province into Quebec province came steadily through less and less snow.  And just when the last of the snow melted away and I was marching across gritty mud lanes, new snow came, with one huge thump, and all is winter-wonderland-y again.  This winter seems determined to actually show up before spring.

The photo taken and uploaded by a kind couple skating on the frozen canal during the annual mid-winter festival hardly conveys the true bite of the wind that day, yet thousands of Ottawans were out skating and having fun.  I met many many lovely people along the trek toward the provincial border - unmarked except for the language and architecture.  It's decidedly reminiscent of the French countryside - village boulangeries, soaring church spires, mansard roofs - though still with the occasional wolftrack in the forests.

This has been a wonderful pilgrim playland, with cheerful reception in parish communities, a few convents, a monastery, and many people's private homes.  People are good.  I've passed through many Doors of Mercy in shrines and cathedrals - even got the Archbishop to sign my pilgrim credential in Ottawa - so I encourage pilgrims to come to Canada (or stay in Canada) to make pilgrimages.  Year of Mercy - Pope Francis said that everyone should make a pilgrimage this year, in part on foot...

After visiting the various pilgrim shrines in and around Montreal, then Trois-Riviere, and since I've got buckets of time on my hands before Easter, I'll deviate to Ermitage Saint-Antoine a jaunt to the north of Quebec city... 300 kms out of the way, and then back... a group called Bottes et Velo - 'boots and bicycle' is stirring up some pilgrim fun inviting people to walk along with me for certain stretches and enjoy some pilgrim meals together, so anyone can join in... see the itinerary at  The world needs more pilgrims.

Monday, February 15, 2016


...  -32C / -25F brrrrrr...

Friday, February 12, 2016

FW: Pic

Sent from my iPhoneAs requested - a nice photo...
Hope you are doing well with your journey.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Day 97 I was a Drunken Moose

I've got a few more minutes at a computer finally, so I'll try to make up for the last rushed post.  A funny blogworthy thing happened a week or so ago... I was mistaken for a drunken moose.

A light snow was falling after a night of steady accumulating flurries; no storm or anything harsh, just a morning that dawned a winter wonderland... On a backroad, presumably a gravel road, but unused as it had been that morning, I was happily walking through ankle-deep fresh snow without ice beneath.  The temperature was comfortable; there was no wind to speak of.  I walked for hours alone to the sound of snow, sometimes falling lightly, sometimes clumping down off tree tops, and sometimes just squeaking under my boots (not enough snow for snowshoes).

Who wouldn't enjoy such a morning's walk?  For miles and miles, I was absolutely alone in the woods.  Unwatched, unaccompanied - what is the saying? 'dance like there's no one watching; sing like there's no one listening...'  so I sort of was, but walking, not dancing, and not really singing out loud, but with happy random thoughts savoring the journey of the day... I wandered the full width of the track - this side to peer into the woods where there were fresh deer tracks, that side to follow a wee mouse along the slight crust of the snow for a remarkable distance considering its size until it spied me and jumped into the forest... meandering onward now stopping to watch a red-headed woodpecker pound persistently into a tree top... wandering sort of straight down the middle, then stopping for a bit of a piddle on one side, later sitting on a snowbank on the opposite side to eat an apple... adrift in my own thoughts for hours and hours, unhurried, unwatched, totally enjoying my morning walk - yikes!  suddenly, silently, a small car was behind me! Hello?!  A puzzled woman shouted out - 'what is this?? I thought I've been following a drunken moose for miles!  What are you doing out here?'  I looked back down the track I'd walked... sure enough, little prints in the snow, never in a straight line for very long, tracks that could have been made by a drunken moose, indeed.  Or a pilgrim enjoying the solitude.  We both laughed fully, well into the evening, it turned out.  Why not?  Dance like there's no one watching.  Sing like there's no one listening.  Walk like a drunken moose through the fresh snow.

Some days later, at the Martyrs' Shrine, I took a day of rest as a guest of the Jesuits.  A pilgrim from Toronto came to visit.  With much deliberation, I parted with my snowshoes.  The end of January - winter's half over - not much snow to speak of.  While I used them a few times, I never really needed them - not like the deep deep snows of Serbia and Montenegro last winter.  If I find I need them again, we can be reunited in short order.  Now, without the added weight on my pack, with virtually no snow left on the ground, I can leave a trail of light prints in the mud - perhaps not as easy to mistake them as being made by a drunken moose.