The flight out of Toronto got off with a couple of hiccups. A security officer wanted to check my bag for something suspicious and when I opened it as she requested she rummaged around and then tapped a solid wooden box. Something in there was bothering her. I opened it and revealed my large, solid-silver Leacock medal. She nodded and smiled.
“That looks interesting in the machine,” she said.
Aboard the Air Canada jet, the captain announced there would be a short delay because they’d noticed fuel leaking from one of the engines. This situation, he claimed, was, “Not all that uncommon in cold weather.” Two passengers decided they’d heard enough and asked to be let off.
In Calgary the three of us on the flight joined the two who were already in town, and we loaded our bags in a large white van and headed west.
The first thing we did was name the van. We batted a few ideas around as we drove west from Calgary, and then settled on “Lushington.” It has some distant connection to Leacock I believe, but I forget what it is. I plead memory overload. There’s been a lot of verbiage flying around for the last 36 hours. Put five writers (and that includes Fred, who I’ve learned has written a few history texts) together in a van for a long drive and there’s a whole crapload of talking. (“Crapload” is the official measurement of writerly verbiage.) Stories out the wazoo and up against the windows.
A lot of these stories have been about Paul Quarrington, all of them affectionate. He’s very much a part of this trip. As I write this quickly in my room in a Super8 motel in tiny Merritt, BC, we’re making plans to meet WP Kinsella later today in Yale to conduct the ceremonial laying of Paul’s ashes. Then we’ll head for an afternoon reading, where we hope we’ll find a few residents of Yale to share in the fun. This all somewhat ad hoc, although Fred Addis of the Leacock Museum has done a wonderful job of organization.
The rest of them are waiting for me now at the van. We’re loading up for the last leg. I’ll let you know how it goes.