After 17 years and a thousand round trips, I could drive from Burritt’s Rapids to Smiths Falls with my eyes closed. But why would I want to?
I mark my good fortune by the totemic houses, gardens, people, signs, and nature that pass before my eyes, the spirits of memory and place that are the roadmap to my happiness.
The stone house and farm at Rosedale Road, trimmed in goldenrod and oxblood, a seasonal almanac of shifting signs (Strawberries! Beans! Pumpkins!)
An undulating field of horses radiant under summer sun.
A glimpse of the river – choppy or frozen or sparkling – clocking the passage of time.
The 50 km/h sign where I slam on my brakes.
The yard lovingly peopled by a crowd of seasonal decorations.
The NASA house, a multi-storied modernist in corrugated steel.
Shardon Manor with its phantom-people, watching, waiting.
Sprawling houses set on scissor-cut lawns.
Tree-sentries witnessing at old Rideau Regional.
The split-level’s stone arch and Gothic wooden gate.
A pair of cottages voluptuous with window boxes.
The two-toned shingled porch on a property brought back to life.
Candles in the windows of the mansion on the corner, casting off the winter darkness.
And suddenly here I am.
I pull into the driveway of my second home, climb its five wooden stairs and cross the threshold of the people who love me as plainly and deeply as I’ve ever been loved in my life.