But it did get me thinking.
Jon may not be homeless but he does have an inordinate love of adventure. He cycles daily, whenever possible finding a new route to explore. When he doesn’t arrive home on time, I find that a text which begins with “Where are you?” and concludes with “Shall I start selling off your gear?” does the trick. That’s going to be some garage sale when the time comes. In the meantime he scares the living daylights out of me, especially when he’s cycling in rush hour. Ironically, it was on a Sunday when he wiped out, having been cut off by a driver who made an unsignaled turn right in front of him and who later admitted to not having noticed him. I’m pretty sure Jon had left his invisibility cloak at home that day. So I breathe easier when Theodore hears the bike on our pea gravel driveway and leaps off the couch to greet our vagabond with high-pitched yelps of unalloyed joy.
Then there are the canoe trips. Jon used to do solo wilderness trips. He let me come on one (I figured we might as well die together). Unfortunately that was the year that the Attawapiscat washed out after an enormous storm and all the campsites were under water. I wasn’t doing much better than they were. By Day 3 it became clear that I was the albatross around Jon’s neck. Miraculously, we were able to radio for help; apparently I embraced the bush pilot in relief and Jon drove me to my mom’s in Winnipeg. I tried to chain him to a telepole in the basement but he outwitted me and went back to do the Albany alone. It didn’t help my nervous system that while at Mom’s I happened across a tiny article in the paper about a paddler who has just been found circulating in an Attawapiscat souse-hole that same week.
Another year (and another solo trip): Ian, our dentist, made the mistake of making conversation and enquiring about Jon. Very little dental work ensued. Yet another summer found me sniffling in a stairwell at Canadore College, where I was supposed to be distracted by a painting course now. And so it went. Mercifully, my canoe bum now trips with five other guys and I sleep like a baby.
Please don’t get me started on fishing in high water. Jon has the brains to wear a belt on his waders so they can’t fill up and drown him if he trips but still…. When it did happen, the belt worked and my heroic camera sacrificed itself. (Look on the bright side if humanly possible.)
Do you remember “Dress for success”? Yes, there is such a thing as Tramp Style. Post-retirement Jon’s uniform is pure Mark’s — cargo pants for all seasons and canvas shirts in (thank heavens) a variety of colours, long sleeves for cool weather and short sleeves for hot; note what he's wearing in this painting which is at least ten years old. He might be wearing that shirt as I write this. He is wed to them, even those which bear the battle scars of trips and projects long forgotten. I have to smuggle the most egregious oldies out under coffee grounds. I had tried turning them into painting rags but they turned out to be too identifiable. I suspect him of doing the same with his dress clothes.
But thanks, Darling, for asking the question. You are, as always, an inspiration!