It’s not quite dawn and I’m sitting in the van around the corner from my sisters’ house in Oshawa, where I slept last night. Pippa is wondering why we have stopped so soon.
I’m waiting for a text from either of my sisters, telling me what I’ve forgotten at their house. I always forget something, and I’ve learned not to go far in the critical fifteen minutes after departure, when I may need to return for something important.
I know the two of them are actively searching the house right now, sure they will find something I’ve left behind. I’m as predictable as a snake shedding it’s skin. This time, I plan to surprise them by being close by when they text.
I’m enjoying this waiting time in the almost-morning, taking in the holiday lights people left to twinkle on the longest night of the year. I notice how relaxed I feel in my body. I breath deeply into my belly and actually give myself permission to forget any number of things. There is no feeling of urgency, and no worries. One thing I’ve learned on the road – I need very little to be happy.
The boyancy I feel in my body tells me I am more than ready to begin the week-long journey to return to a landscape that captured my imagination and heart last winter.
It was a place of great healing for me. I’m not quite sure what the connection is, but that desert -and the friends I met there- helped me find my way to Cape Breton. That experience helped me find my way home.
I’m returning to give thanks.
I travel without much planning, no daily agenda and few expectations of myself. I will drive south until the sunshine warms my face, and I’ll head west from there. I’ll stay at motels the first two nights, and then expect it will be warm enough for Pippa and I to stay in the van at night.
In the beginning of January, I’ll join about a thousand other travelling women in Quartzsite, Arizona to share our mutual love of back-country van-camping and living on the road, and then join a second gathering of five thousand men and women who will do something very similar.
We share what we have learned about self-sufficiency on the road, van conversions, solar power, safety and Leave-No-Trace principles on Public Lands. We celebrate Nature and share our art, music and dreams. We drum, sing, cook together and star-watch. We lend support to each other. Many little villages will spring up from our gathering. We share travel routes, favourite boondocking sites and volunteer/work opportunities on the road. We hike, rock hound and take day-trips together. Community is created where there was none before; a nomadic community with as many variations-on-a-theme as there are people who choose time on the road.
I wait a full 15 minutes and am delighted – and shocked- when no text arrives. I can’t help but laugh. It feels like a good sign; a green light. I must have everything I need.
I scan the street, admiring all the green lights twinkling on the houses, lighting up the darkest night of the year. So many greens. Green is the colour of new growth. Green means Go. It’s time to go. The growing energy of Winter Solstice is pulling me to the desert.
In less than two hours, we arrive at the Peace Bridge border crossing at Buffalo, New York. Where I see a full row of green lights awaiting me.
There is a half-hour wait to cross, which gives me time to think about passages, portals and journeys. When I finally reach the booth, the border patrol officer comes out to look inside the van after I tell him I usually sleep in it. I’m pretty sure he actually suppressed a smile at the space he found back there. It is a bit of surprising space, this little home-on-wheels.
When he finally delivered the official nod and wishes me a safe voyage into the US, I feel a wave of possibilities wash over me. I feel doors open and paths present themselves. I feel wind and movement and a thousand possible stories rush through me.
The rest of the day dissolves into a peaceful drive and we call it a wrap in the late afternoon when the weather turns to ice rain.
Pippa and I have now settled into our favourite cheap motel after shopping for some food. I won’t be cooking in the next couple days so like to have lots of fruits and veggies to snack on so I’m not sucked into eating gas station food. Nothing sucks the life out of you and limit possibilities faster than gas station food. Carrots and green beans, on the other hand, invite adventure.
I had a long bath and enjoyed a short yoga session with classes I’ve downloaded. Pippa is enjoying a bone and the pleasure of four pillows to nestle into all at once.
Before I settled in to write, I go outside to talk with Mama Moon, who is full. A full-moon-solstice-moon.
Although she was behind clouds, I felt my heart open upwards into the dark night. I thank her for the love of my family and friends in Cape Breton and Ontario. I ask her to watch everyone I love and all people she shines on.
I send up a special wish for my friend who is caring for the church while I am away. She is there tonight, carving prayers into a whale bone, using the hieroglyphic language of her ancestors. Prayers for the whale she collected from both settlers and First Nations people. Prayers for Peace.
On a day of crossing borders and growing light, the beauty and importance of her work makes my heart ache with the hopefulness of possibility.
Wishing everyone peace tonight. May the light pull you forward. May you have everything you need.