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Notes From The Road

I am writing this entry from the Laurentians in Québec, about an hour north of Montreal.  I am at long last visiting my dear friend Renata (of RenataMosaic), who moved here 1.5 years ago and whom I haven’t seen since she left!  I have not had email or cell phone access for over a week, and I have to say it’s been rather nice!  But back to reality, and time to catch up on my blog (as well as my writing, email and so on).

I just spent the last 5 days training the dogs at a sheepdog clinic in the eastern townships of Québec.  You may recall that I attended this event last year, and I’m really glad I came back for a second round.  This time I got to spend 5 days training with the 2008 international supreme sheepdog champion Kevin Evans.  What a treat!  Despite my concern about cold, the weather actually ended up being a bit on the hot side for training.  The sheep and dogs tired quickly, but I still came away with my head full to bursting with new ideas about how to advance my dogs and my handling skills.  I can’t wait to get practicing as soon as I get home!  First I’m going to have to wait for my dogs to wake up.  Their brains are full as well, and since they’re the ones who had to run full tilt after sheep in the hot afternoon sun, they’re beat!  But in a good, happy tired dog way.

My efforts to make this trip as low-impact as possible have been thwarted by time, space and information.  For one, I simply did not have enough space in my car to bring a cooler full of meat for the dogs.  As such, I had to buy meat on location, and because of the hours of the clinic, the long weekend and the limited hours of the local abattoirs, I ended up having to go to Loblaws.  Not only is this expensive, but the dogs end up eating factory farmed meat wrapped in plastic and styrofoam.  How do I hate this, let me count the ways!  The factory farmed meat (chicken & beef) make me cringe, but the alternative is kibble which is worse.  With all the research I’ve done on how damaging this packaging is, I just hate myself for adding even a single styrofoam tray to landfill, let alone four of them.  And likely there will be a few more before I get home.

And then there’s the carbon footprint caused by driving 12 hours with a very full car, and at times even running the air-conditioning (necessary for the dogs when it gets too hot inside the car).  But at least with my own food, I was able to avoid making any fast-food or industrial purchases.  So far.  I packed enough food for the first week, and was delighted to find a fridge at my disposal so I didn’t have to constantly buy ice for my cooler (which would of course have come in plastic bags).  I even had enough food left over to bring with me to St. Adele and contribute to breakfast and dinner for a day or two.  Lunch and two dinners were provided at the clinic, and while not all the food that was provided was local, it was all cooked from scratch.  And they did serve one of their own lambs on Saturday night.  Delish!

I also managed to find the last few items I needed for my trip second hand or borrowed from friends and family, so I was able to avoid buying anything more for my time away.

From here things are going to get tricky.  Renata has done quite a bit of scouting in this area and has been able to find some local and organic food, but not much this time of year.  And I’m going to be spending the weekend in Montreal at conferences, which always offer a challenge when it comes to food.  I am going to have to think carefully about how I’m going to manage this.  As it stands, I still don’t even know where I am going to stay, let alone where I can find local, ecological food.  Most likely I’m going to have to set aside my rules for a few days, but at least I should be able to find at least some local cafés and restaurants in which to eat and avoid the big chains and fast food.  Any suggestions?

This morning Renata and I started our day hiking the dogs for several hours through the woods.  It was only a 15 minute walk from her door to the head of the trail.  It was so hot I thought I’d melt, but the dogs led us to a river with pools deep enough in which to swim.  Soon we were all in, dogs, clothes and all.  Paradise!  We decided to hike out in our bare feet, an experience I haven’t had before.  It felt wonderful to crunch through the leaves, while sharp twigs and pine needles served as instruments of shiatsu massage.  At one point we encountered a small bog.  We hesitated, then stepped in.  Have you ever stood barefoot in a bog?  It feels wonderful!  Especially on such a hot day!  It didn’t matter that our feet got dirty, because we could just step into the river and be clean again.  I was left contemplating how much we’ve lost touch with our environment simply by wearing shoes.

One Response

  1. Wow… “I was left contemplating how much we’ve lost touch with our environment simply by wearing shoes.” That’s a really thought-provoking and poignant observation!

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