In late 1980 through the mid 1990s, I worked as an Education Officer for the Ministry of Education of Ontario out of Thunder Bay. My territory covered a large portion of that part of Ontario-about the same size as all of southern Ontario. It meant many long lonely hours on the road.
Just me and my truck and trees and rocks and breathtaking vistas along Hwy 17 along the north shore of Lake Superior. And, marvelling at the difference of the land on the northern run along Hwy 11 alongside the Palisades through Beardmore and Geraldton to Hearst and Iroquois Falls. It was quiet. Just the sound of the tires on the road and the and the thrum of the powerful 7.3 Litre diesel engine for company. I learned to enjoy the solitude and the time to ponder all of the amazing things that were and are my life.
I wrote many papers in my head on those long journeys and as the technology improved dictated them to my computer as I drove. A dinner theatre script here, a manual to do something or other there, a script for a video. When that wore thin, I turned to my radio, dialed in CBC Radio One to listen to Stuart McLean on the Vinyl Cafe.
Stuart McLean was a master story teller; a person I aspired to be like. Stuart caused many kilometres to vanish beneath the tires of my ride and I spent five wonderful years of my life relishing his every word in the newest of his stories about Dave and Morley and their kids Sam and Stephanie. His skill with language and rhythm of the story forced me off the road frequently in gales of laughter about Dave’s misadventures. It was safer for both myself and the on-coming traffic that I made this choice. He was Canada’s Garrison Keillor.
Today, it was announced that Stuart McLean died and I felt a lament rise in my heart. My prayers are with you this night as I reminisce our times together on the long and wondrous journey of the highway of my life. Thank you for the lessons in Dave Cooks the Turkey. May God’s Spirit raise you up and release you from the agony of your illness dear friend of the road. The world is a much emptier place because of your absence in it.