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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicles: Goin' Trippin'

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Jeanette Saddler Taylor
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Istanbul. The very name conjures up exotica. For years as I would thumb through travel magazines and see articles about life there, or hear people say that I must go and see it, and I longed to do so.

Then, this year, I really was going. Money had changed hands, a Visa was secured. It was gonna’ happen. Such anticipation. Then, I wasn’t going. What an incredible letdown, and not for any reason that you might readily guess. Although I feared for both, Covid wasn’t a block; the Ukrainian war wasn’t an impediment. Something mundane was the stumbling block. The boat broke: some issue with the engine. When I mentioned this to a few folks, they opined that it was better to know this before going than after. Not my thought. If I were already there, I might have seen some of Istanbul and the boat had several bar areas, so liquid comfort would have been available until people came to remove us from the boat. And I’m sure that they would have—mostly people go out of their way to rescue cash-paying customers. So, no Istanbul this year. What to do?

Clearly not relying on others was the answer—go somewhere in our car. Recently opened to those of us in the U.S., Canada beckoned. We climbed into our trusty Prius to see how far east we could get in about three weeks. Old-timey maps were consulted; (I love looking at maps.), a few places were reserved, and the rest just would happen. Such wonders awaited! There was a friend in Hamilton, Ontario. There was what I referred to as a fancy-schmancy hotel in Quebec. There were huge amounts of potatoes—and potato by-products such as potato vodka in New Brunswick. Everywhere was clean and green and had an abundance of colorful lupins growing alongside the road, AND very nice people in all spots, (All of the Canadians who I know, including the Geezergram sender, Patrick, fall into the category of very nice people.) and there were beautiful water sources, and ferry rides, and even the back end of a moose munching near the road. If I sound as though I am rhapsodizing, I am.

At the capitol building in Ottawa, a very nice civic employee encouraged me to move to Canada. True, maybe he just saw me as a potential tax-paying entity, but I’ve never minded paying taxes in exchange for services and they seem to have services in abundance. And, finally, they have a passel of very fine musicians. We ended our wanderings by attending the Troubadour Festival in Barrie, Ontario which had two days of Canadian musicians headlined by the fabulous Natalie McMaster doing her first live concert in two years. (She is scheduled to come to Goshen to perform next spring, but we couldn’t wait.)

So, then we come to some people’s rejoinder, “If you think it’s so much better there, then just go.” This brings back memories of the 70’s saying, “America, Love it or Leave it.” Well, Canada is America too, you know. And, even in the 70’s some of us had the smarty-pants response, of “America, Fix it or F___ it.” Just saying . . .

Not so long ago, I read an article in Town and Country magazine by Adam Gopnik. He posits that we travel to “confirm or disconfirm pictures that we already hold in our heads, developed through reading or looking long before we left.” So perhaps, I saw what I expected to see in Canada. Although before I never had been as far east as Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, I always have been very pleased with my Canadian jaunts. The one exception this time was Toronto—it has gotten too large for my liking. Fighting massive traffic is not my idea of pleasure. Just the other day, right in South Bend, I commented to my beloved, Larry, that as I age, the sight of undeveloped land pleases me. Those bits of green—even weedy green—soothe my spirit, city girl though I am.

Adam went on to say that “when places are left unvisited, they become intensely fabulized.” Thus, Istanbul may remain for me, but Canada holds true to my expectation.

Music: Cape Breton fiddle by Natalie MacMaster

Jeanette Saddler Taylor lives and writes in South Bend where she is retired, but is active in several community organizations.