May 10/07 Thursday—Ontario Border
I started part two of CanWalk 3 noticing the pool of blood. A young fox dared the road just feet away from the Ontario border. It was a recent hit. The blood was fresh.
This is what the highway is—a place of living and moving travel but it is also a place of standstill, of frozenness and death. I am so impactfully reminded of this on this first day.
The previous day was a record 30C, but today is greeted with a north wind although sunny. Keewatin is a Cree word for north wind, according to a monument I read in Winnipeg two days prior. I do meet with warmth though.
Officer Grier is curious: “What are you doing?”
“It’s a cross country walk—a third one. A pilgrimage. I am a monk, a Hare Krishna.”
“I’ve never heard.”
“The Broadway production Hair?”
“I’ve heard of that.”
“There you hear people chanting. The mantra was brought to America in the sixties but it’s actually an old tradition.”
“I just wanted to make sure you’re safe. These truckers, you’ve got to watch them.”
“Please, can you let all the officers in your area know what I am doing?” I asked.
“I sure will,” said the officer.
I met Kyle from Shaw TV. He took lots of footage. He climbed a steep rock and shot from above. Then he asked lots of questions including about the footwear.
“Holy Soles” is what they call them. They are actually Crocs, my favourite.
Shelly Bajold from the Kenora Mines Daily came out. Questions and photos.
I had a couple of local guys stop. They offered a ride, water, food.
“No thanks, you’ve given me your time, your warmth.”
“Have you seen any wildlife today?”
“Humans,” I answered.
They told of the wolf packs close to town. One deer was recently attacked by eleven wild dogs right near the town and it raised a concern.
I also met Steve from Ottawa. He is west-coast bound. He had worked in construction for years, then went homeless for six months, slept in a 40 below weather. “It’s time for a change” he said, as he continued hitching a ride.
Revati Prananath was my support for the day. He was most helpful. I owe him so much. I lay to rest in my little tent, fatigued but so content.
44 km to the west side of Kenora
* * * *
May 11/07—Anicinabe Camp, Kenora
3:20 a.m., and I’m showered ready to walk. The waning moon manages to pour sufficient light as I tread 17 East.
As the sun set off his rays, larks sent sweet whistling sounds in all directions. Perfumed forests dispatched their fragrances from the pine and the fir. A loon had found his happy station perfectly centered in a lake.
Retired soldier Bill Hill stopped. Now residing in Dryden and working at a printing shop, he recently returned from his assigned tour of duty in Afghanistan. He told me he adjusted to heat and change of diet. He appreciated the less passionate life’s angle to long distance walking. He let his car run, forever it seemed, just to talk. We both took a break talking.
In Kenora, Doug from Winnipeg joined us. With him were Yovany from Cuba, Bhisma Doug and Ruplal from Winnipeg. We scouted the main thoroughfare of Kenora together. Also with Doug was Billy, his green parrot. She will enjoy the trip.
We met Michelle. She heard of Tibetan Buddhist monks coming to town to present mandelas.
Lots of motorists noticed us, perhaps due to the TV coverage.
Revati, Bhisma Doug, and Ruplal left after kirtan, wraps and association. The cry of loons lulled our minds to sleep.
* * * *
May 12, Saturday 2007—East of Kenora
At 3AM I zipped open the tent door. There was an automatic chill. My miner’s headlight revealed that grass around had been hit by light but sparkly frost. So the walk this early was brisk; the chill tempered by a saffron wool chadar (shawl).
The moon has not missed his regimen. He had become slit since yesterday. Millions of sweet whistles resounded again. They are like duplicate Krishnas playing the flute.
Yovany is new to the game. He’s new to Canada. It’s a cool day even in May.
Yovany took to the road with me. We chanted japa (mantra meditation) together and then songs honouring the guru and the Creator. He was impressed with the landscape—the endless number of lakes, trees and rocks. I concurred. It truly is a northern paradise here.
I pointed out a beaver dam and a lodge, which the mammals call home. We reflected on the special shakti or empowerment that is given to all creators. These plump furry mammals can do a major job at adjusting landscape. They are amazing at their craft.
Yovany had his test at cooking. On the menu was a fine mix of veggies in dahl and rice. Known in parts of India as kichari, it was nothing short of delicious.
Doug, more affectionately known as Darshan Doug, is our videographer. Formerly he was called Video Doug because of his obsession with the machine. I had suggested some time ago to sanskritize his name, so the name Darshan Doug stuck. He is also our chauffeur. It is his vehicle we are borrowing for the walk support; a modest ’93 SUV Ford Explorer. Doug will also be handling the media.
We will plan laundry days, where to stay, who to contact from past acquaintance and what new receptive people to interest in our walking mission. We are a good team.
I met Harry Swanson. He stopped; he got the chance to utter the sacred sound, “Hare Krishna.” His own name was already half there.
I met a woman and a Boy Scout. They and ten others planted 2400 spruce trees for the day to raise funds for the local scout division. As is often the case, she wanted clarification. Am I Buddhist or a Hare Krishna?
Our day’s end came to the perfect closure by kirtan. We stationed ourselves at a vista spot on Vermilion Bay where I beat the dolak drum and led kirtan (chanting) while Doug and Yovany responded with kartals (hand cymbals) and song.
I couldn’t resist the year’s first outside northern lake so I went for a polar dip. Yes, and there’s still the odd snow patch clutching on to the spring season.
A hard push near the end brought me to 40kms.