January 25, 2010

A day unlike others

It was my birthday recently, and it was a good one.

It started with sleeping until I woke. It’s true that I do that most mornings, but it’s especially sweet on a birthday. Even if it’s the same old 7:30 to which I’m accustomed, it’s a joy.

There was exuberance in my partner as she made my coffee. I was exuberant, too, because it was a Saturday birthday and I could anticipate a stretched out day of little kindnesses, loving words and a reprieve from the usual household errands. I remember a friend once told me about his childhood in Illinois where, if Hallowe’en fell on a Saturday, kids could spend all day and evening trick or treating. I bring this same spirit to my birthday if it falls on Saturday. Or Sunday, for the same reasons.

Breakfast was eggs and bread. Beautiful bread. Peerless bread. The ultimate bread (of course, the second to the last piece was the penultimate – I’m annoyed when that word is misused). A chewy bread with a semi-hard crust and pieces of apricot baked within. A bread so good that, because it was spread with butter, I decided to skip the eggs. So, in the interest of honesty on reporting, I rescind my earlier statement about eggs and bread and admit that breakfast was bread, and a bit of butter.

I then checked my email and was delighted to find out that I was successful in my application for a two week residency at the Wallace Stegner House in Eastend, Saskatchewan, November 1st to 15th. Stegner’s Angle of Repose is on my top ten reading list. Like Elizabeth Bishop – claimed to be one of the greatest American poets – Wallace Stegner lived in Canada as a child, moving back to the US as a young man and starting his writing career there. Saskatchewan, though, had a great influence on him and his writing. Worth reading. And re-reading.

We drove to the country. I drove to the country, that is. Passenger side directions were kept to a minimum and the lumbar support seemed more supportive than usual. Snow was whiter than it seemed last week. The car used less gas.

Another great treat was in store for me. Serendipitous, unbidden, and rare, so rare.

On the highway that takes us part way to the country before it narrows to an ox-cart trail, I gradually found myself behind a car driving well below the speed limit. Well back from this car, I pulled out to pass, signaling, accelerating gently, filled with the confidence of a conscientious driver who knows full well that they are passing the RIGHT way, the CORRECT way, passing in a way that other drivers could only watch, admire and aspire to. Pardon the dangling preposition.

A casual glance in my rear view mirror revealed a small red car racing toward the slow driver. The slow driver was probably going 90 clicks, I was doing 112-115. Upon my word, this little red car was doing 180. Upon my word, I repeat – which may mean more to some than others.

What occurred next was the red car “threading a needle” as my partner put it, by weaving out from the tail end of  Slow Guy and pulling out in front of us, a slick little maneuver that one had not seen since the Dukes of Hazzard. Not that I watched the Dukes of Hazzard. I did watch the Duchess of Duke Street, but I suspect there were few similarities.

Swerving, fishtailing and braking followed, but not in that order and not by the Red Car. Swerving, braking, swearing and fist shaking. And the perennial cry of all who have been wronged on the road: where are the Mounties when you need them? Or want them, even?

But that day, my birthday, the great Mountie in the sky heard the swearing (which could be taken for prayer, I suppose, given the roar of the highway) and knew it was a special day. For, three of kilometers later, as we turned a long bend, the blue and red lights blinked rapidly from the shoulder of the road, broadcasting for all to know: someone has been pulled over.

As we passed the little red car, the driver having a sober chat with the Mountie, we waved with great zeal at the driver and the three other toque-heads with him. Was this not, short of my brother-in- law taking my sister to Paris for her 50th,  a great birthday gift?

Call me mean. Call me guilty of schadenfreude. Any other day of the year, I would admit that. But not on my birthday.

Later that day we had cake, a decent merlot and I received several birthday calls.  I did the New York Times crossword and retired early, happy and grateful.

Happy Birthday to me.


2 Responses to “A day unlike others”
  1. Janet

    Coming out of Lurkdom to say “Happy Birthday, Susan” – and to agree that the Birthday Gods were indeed smiling upon you! Nothing quite so righteous as a Menace on the Road pulled over and ticketed for all the perfect drivers to witness!

    And just so you don’t think I’m stalking – I’m a friend of your cousin Jane! Love reading your posts 🙂

  2. Jane Greening

    You Hen! You didn’t even mention your birthday! Damn. I ALWAYS mention my birthday because I’m an egomaniac, but I’m glad yours was so fine and the Mounties got their man.
    Happy Birthday.