Radically Gentle

September 19, Day 76: 46 miles from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Burlington, Ontario

I did not want to get on my bike today. But I did. It helped that my host Joan joined me for the first few miles, and saw me off at the ferry across the canal. What can I say? It was a lonely long day of pedaling and missing my dad and missing my mom; sometimes, I guess, that's just how it goes. The day brightened when I was met by Marty and Chang, my hosts in Burlington. They fell in love cycling across Canada this past July, and last summer Chang cycled across Canada completely solo, camping all the way. And she didn't speak a word of English: that's what I call Bold. She made us the most delicious Korean meal, complete with home made kimchi. When I get home I am going to 1: hug my mom and 2: make a batch of sauerkraut. Fermented veggies oh how I love thee.

September 20, Day 77: 36 miles from Burlington to Toronto

When I arrived I was greeted by the wonderful Deborah Barndt. She is a photographer and professor of community arts at York University and she is awesome. She took me to her monthly song-fest gathering--a group of friends who have met once a month for the past 23 years to eat food and sing songs together. Now that's what I call healthy. (Who wants to start a monthly East Bay song-fest gathering? Anybody? I'll host the first one!) We ate and sang and laughed and talked until the dark hours and then pedaled home. Splendor!

September 21-23, Days 78-80: Yoga in Toronto

The Octopus Garden Yoga Studio...is a place of greatness. They offer a week of free classes to all new students, and I eagerly took the offer. One afternoon I was rushing about doing errands and then found that I was going to be late for Jesse's amazing Vinyasa class if I didn't book it. I hurried most un-yogi-like to the studio, swiftly changed clothes and did my best to duck into class without being a pain-in-the-ass late-comer. I slid onto my mat in stealthy silence and proceeded to follow instructions, eyes closed. I started thinking, my...this is an odd sequence for the beginning of a class. Then I starting thinking: my, this is not familiar at all...I opened my eyes to look around and realized that I was surrounded by pregnant women. In my haste I had ducked into the wrong studio to join the last few moments of a pre-natal class. Most women in the room were looking at me, and the instructor, hiding an amused smile, asked if I was perhaps in the wrong class. Yes! I leaped up and scooted out the door and as I raced down the stairs to the right and proper studio I heard a roar of laughter erupt behind me. At least my hurried stupidity caused a joyful moment for a bunch of soon-to-be-mommies.

September 24, Day 81: A lift to Montreal

OK guys so I'm getting tired and not just tired in my body but tired in my feelings and mostly tired of riding my bicycle through unfamiliar landscapes all by myself. So I decided not to ride solo anymore and instead get a lift to Montreal where I would spend some time exploring and pretending to speak French before meeting up with the wonderful Olivia Dempster, my riding buddy for the Last Leg.  It was a good choice.

September 25-Oct 3, Days 82-90: Ce qui ce passe à Montréal reste à Montréal.  

Lots of writing and lots of reflecting and a little bit of falling in love. That's all I will say about that! But here is a poem, commissioned by Olivia to be written from Montreal.

  The Poet

He labors on and on and on

to please the one above:

Divine small days spent shaping

Sad wet clay

--an Ornament, for his love. 

And knowing nowhere was there space enough

For what he had to do--he'd have to find it


His soul among the stars--

To place a prayer on God's left ear

he breaks with fear to find the words:

and makes a little call--

A declaration maybe, or a gift-- 

Just to say "we're here." 

October 4, Day 91: 47 miles from Montreal to Napierville, Quebec

My what light a friend brings in.

October 5, Day 92:  60 miles from Napierville, Quebec, to Burlington, Vermont

Burlington...I think I love you. 

October 6, Day 93: Yoga and chocolate and rain and rest in lovely Burlington.

 As I near the "end" of this particular road--a self-constructed path that terminates at the Atlantic Ocean in Maine--I can spy in the distance a great big call board tacked with signs announcing the many latent expectations I'd had for this journey. I did not even know I had these expectations until I came to a certain brink and then a list of stiff commands appeared: Caitlyn, please come home a better person: stronger, wiser, more impressive and more sure. Please Caitlyn, please, find something certain to take home with you. 

 And guess what: I haven't found much in the way of certainty. I know I love my home and I know the world is big. I know that there are big problems that I wish I could solve but don't know how. I know that I love words and I know that finding them and writing them and speaking them is one way that I find God. I know that I love Other People and that they also scare me greatly. I know that love is the bestest thing but that it makes me want to run away and hide or else stand paralyzed on the spot. I know that I can do big hard impressive things, and that that in itself doesn't really matter; that sometimes the hardest thing of all to do is to be unimpressive and radically gentle.