City to Country

City to Country

Dispatch by Lena Desmond

It’s 5:30 a.m. and of one thing I’m sure of: Toronto is a city that sleeps. And then another: it’s so bright here. Even despite the fact the sun is already rising later, I can see a thousand lights ahead but not a single star. Billboards, like nightlights, lead early morning commuters down the sleeping highway. Despite the emptiness, drivers keep to the speed limit; it’s too early to move fast. Even the traffic lights are too lazy to turn red. It’s hardly dawn, after all.

My route to rural Quebec starts at the heart of Union station. As I make my way to the VIA train, I walk through a herd of Go-Trainers, not the farms I’ll bike past tomorrow. I board the train and pass the commuters catching flies, not fish. My dufflebag and daypack are like bumper cars in an aisle made for suitcases. How different things will look in the days to come, when there’s nothing but open road!

As the train begins moving, I feel myself buzzing despite the silence, my nerves grow at pace with the train. Everyone is headed off to work and I’m headed on an adventure. Montreal awaits and then the Eastern Townships and Quebec’s countryside, along with it the promise of wine, of biking kilometre upon kilometre, with perhaps a blister to two, then of Quebec City’s cobblestone streets and breathtaking fjords. And what I look forward to most: the promise of stars; tonight in a tent on the outskirts of Montreal, then again two days from now, from a park which boasts the blackest of skies and for the rest of the nights to come.

We’re well underway as I marvel at how quickly city turns to country, how quickly summer turns to fall. From the window, I see dying cornfields tucked into a misty duvet, and I note that yellow leaves are already crisping. As we skip from city to country, I’m sure of one more thing: on this trip, I’ll leave behind the big city’s fatigue. And if the Eastern Townships have a promise, it’s that I’ll find myself reawakened by Quebec and the rural life not yet known to me.

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