Did our ancestral explorers pull out their hair deciphering similar directions?
|I steer my car to the side of the meandering dirt road and will myself to concentrate on my breathing. I repeat over and over, relax, calm down, breathe in, breathe out. This is your first day as a Personal Support Worker in rural Northern Ontario. Everyone lives somewhere right? My client is probably perched at her front window binoculars pressed to her eyes at this very moment. Of course, she is not close to hyper-ventilating. She is confident her directions were impeccable. Even the village idiot could find her. Pulling a now crumpled and smeared list from my coat pocket I squint at my hurried scrawl. A little memory aid couldn't hurt. A whispered conversation echoed in my mind stifling my urge to snort in disbelief. Had an eighty-year old woman as yet unknown to me described her road as ' just outside of town, not far at all dear'? My car's odometer begged to differ. I should be in an exotic time zone by now. Was I still in Canada? "I have pine trees in my front yard, you can't miss them. Well unless you blink at the wrong moment. I should say they are quite tall and very green. They shade my front room don't you know?" From my driver's seat I peer out through dusty windows at the towering evergreens thick and silent guarding both sides of this country track stretching to the horizon. No shortage of needled trees here. Had she mentioned a particular pine? White Pine? Red pine? Jack pine? My tree knowledge garnered eons ago while attending Girl Guide meetings refused to swim to the surface of my murky memory. Wait, one tantalizing tidbit swirled. Leaves of three, let them be. I shook my head. Good grief wasn't that a warning about poison ivy? I shivered. Nope, I did not plan on hiking today. "I'm easy to find dear. I live beside Bea. She bakes the best pies. Who knows, you just might smell one, eh?" With a shrug I rolled down the streaked windows and sniffed. Notes of dampness, a whiff of wood smoke, and the distinct freshness of evergreens wafted in. Nope, no enticing baking aromas. "Oh, did I tell you my house is white? My husband chose that. I wanted blue, but no it had to be white, clean-looking he said. As if he ever worried his head over cleaning." If my recent recall had not entirely deserted me, most homes I drove past were white. Must've been a good paint sale. Okay, okay, I get it. A white house makes a stark contrast to all the dark green. Not at all helpful to me. "My nephew and his wife live nearby. They have such a pretty white cottage. What time will you get here dear?" I cannot answer that. Deciding to continue my cruise I pull out onto the road in time to swerve as a horn blasts the air. I slam on the brakes and will the pounding of my heart to slow. A battered red pick-up truck rests far too close to my back bumper. A tall, gaunt man stuffed into a red and black plaid jacket waved as he limped to my open window. I barely had time to consider closing it. "Hi there. Would you be the Personal Support Worker heading to my aunt's? She noticed you drive right past her driveway. She put out a call to me and here I am. I can't believe you missed it. Everyone knows where she is. You must be new, eh? Just turn around and follow me. The wife knew those binoculars would come in handy. Auntie watches the traffic, not that she sees all that well. She tells me she studies the birds. Did she mention that? You didn't miss by much. Maybe a kilometre or two. Come on, she's awaiting." Maybe I squeaked out an 'okay'. I'm not sure. I'd never been the subject of a search and rescue before. As I follow my country knight, I sneak another quick peek at my list. Yep, my client had spoken about birds in her yard. In particular she raved about the blue jays and sure enough I notice a flash of vivid colour as I turn into a gravel driveway behind the vehicle that scatters them. I sigh and I reach to open my car door. Out of the corner of my eye I see a tiny figure of a pearly-haired woman flapping her arms standing on a distinctive yellow porch. What? She never gave up that detail. "Yoo-hoo dear. I knew you'd find me. Easy-peasy country breezy. See, my pine trees?" ( 775 words )|