My family used to like the BBC sitcom “Keeping Up Appearances”. It airs on PBS over here. I was less of a fan than my girls and wife, but I did like the character called Onslow. To call Onslow a couch potato would overstate his dynamism. Even reaching the couch was a stretch. I remember him mostly propped up in bed in an undershirt, reading the horse-racing pages in the paper. Once, forced into some marginally more demanding activity, he memorably said “It’s amazing how quickly the sheer inconvenience of work comes back to me”. I have been thinking about that these past two weeks.
You may recall my grand plans for the Connecticut Appalachian Trail and Quebec. Well, they are sunk, scuppered, scotched. In mid-June, I found myself – right out of the blue – on a consulting assignment. It will probably last a few months. All of a sudden, I am on the 6:04 to Grand Central with hundreds of others instead of on the Paradise Lane Trail to the AT with my middle daughter alone. (The photo to the left is Bear Mountain seen from Paradise Lane in April). The new boots and backpack I bought her are stowed away, and the July 5th departure for Quebec with her younger sister is cancelled. The sheer inconvenience of work! Too right, Onslow.
But all is not lost. The consulting work is with good people and good companies. It’s not a bad time of year to hide in an air-conditioned office either. And the backpacks are stowed only for now. We are already talking about hitting the CT AT just before Thanksgiving. That could be nice if the snow holds off – no bugs, no sticky heat, better views. As for Quebec, my client has generously agreed to a week away from the project later in July. Youngest daughter and I have had to ditch Parc national de la Gaspésie (seen below from Pic du Brulé in fine weather) and the whales of Pointe-aux-Anglais. But we will still get to Parc national des Grands-Jardins, and the all-important blueberries and tourtières.
A friend – and ex-boss, in fact – recently wrote how he “felt sorry for the bleary-eyed commuters, standing in the precise places on the station where the train doors would open, then rushing for a vacant seat and quickly resuming their night’s slumber”. He was boarding the train to get to a 19-day, 275-mile hike through the Australian bush, not to an office job in the big city. Well, Dave described very well my recent early mornings on Metro-North. I’m looking forward to being a hiker again soon. In the meantime, I can always vicariously adventure on Australia’s Hume & Hovell Walking Track.