How much serendipity can a person jam into one weekend? My old personal record would have been, well, one but this weekend I think I had two, maybe three or perhaps four serendipitous events, depending on how one is wont to count them.
Serendipitous Event 1 (and maybe 2, and 3)
Friday, my husband Dennis and I are driving out to our cottage in northwestern Ontario. We are driving along a rather nondescript section of the Trans-Canada Highway, somewhere in Manitoba, with forest on both sides of the road. It is driving rain as we pass a man in a blaze-green jersey pushing a scooter (yes, a scooter) along the shoulder of the highway. There is construction on the highway, so he is slogging along in gravely muck. He is hardly discernible in the driving rain. A hundred yards ahead is a motor home covered in decals. I assume that this fellow is on some sort of across Canada trek raising money for some sort of charity but in the rain I can’t read any of it.
Fifty kilometres or so later, Dennis and I decide to pull off the road for lunch. We have a habit of stopping at a favourite hamburger stand every Friday on the way to the lake. Today, though, we are hungry and our favorite place is still miles down the road so we decided to try a different restaurant that we have heard from others is quite good. The restaurant has been there for ten years or so. Though we had often talked of trying it, we have never been there before.
We pulled into the parking lot and the first thing I notice is a motor home just like the one that we passed 50 kilometres back. (Serendipitous event 1.) We go into the restaurant and it is quite busy. Among the patrons, I see a man sitting all by himself with his laptop open. I bet he’s driving the van, I think. I plop myself down at the table beside him and engage him in conversation. Sure enough he’s the driver of the van. His name is Marcus, also my son’s name. (Is this serendipitous event 2? More of a coincidence, I’d say.)
Here’s the backstory about the cross-Canada trip. The guy plodding along in the rain with the scooter is a fellow named Steve O’Brien. He lives in Lachute, Quebec and was a former track athlete. Now at 51, he is the owner of a gym and he is crossing Canada to raise funds and awareness to keep kids physically active and in school. It is all chronicled on his website, SteveOBrienFondation.com or his Facebook page of the same name. He started in Victoria on April 12 and has logged 3000 kilometres on a rather circuitous route. By the time he reaches the Atlantic coast in December, he will have covered 11,000 kilometres. (The “easy”, straight route is closer to 7,500 kilometres.)
What’s with the scooter? Is he really crossing Canada on a scooter?
A scooter like this……….
Turns out his idea is to use various modes of transportation. He will run, ride a bike, ride a scooter, ride a skateboard, ride a pogo stick, ride in a wheelchair or ride an adapted bike. (An adapted bike is one that is peddled by hand rather than feet so it is adapted to people who do not have use of their legs.). Whenever he reaches a new city or town, he connects with kids in the community by visiting schools. The kids he has met have suggested all these different modes of transportation to him. Marcus tells me that their plan is to be in Kenora, which is near our lake, by Sunday.
Skip forward from Friday to Sunday. Dennis and I are out riding our bikes in Kenora and stop at the local bike shop to buy a spare tube for my bike. We walk out and immediately begin to cross the road. I look up before I cross, and there is Marcus in his motor home. (Serendipitous event 3). We chat and catch up on the events of the last two days. Steve will arrive in Kenora today.
Serendipitous Event 4
It is only two weeks until the Habitat for Humanity Cycle of Hope. Every chance I get, I am out on my bike, especially at the lake where the hills provide a great training ground for the hills of Michigan and Wisconsin. Saturday, we ride 65 kilometres in and around Kenora. At one point, I pass the local high school where a group of kids are doing something with the chain link fence that surrounds the school yard. Are they decorating it for grad, I wonder. I can’t tell, really. There are some brightly coloured threads being woven into the fence. I am intrigued to know what it is.
Skip forward to Sunday and I ride by the school again and find the fence has been transformed into this:
Rain is threatening and I continue on, riding by. Fifty or a hundred metres later, I chastise myself for being in such a hurry to avoid the rain, and backtrack to admire the fence. I join two kids also admiring it. I ask them if they know what it is. It’s is called “Yarn Bombing,” I am told by Wynne, one of the two people there. He shyly tells me that he is the creator of the idea and is showing it to his friend. (Serendipitous Event 4.) It is not for graduation but for celebration of Pride Week in Kenora. As a transgendered person, Wynne has created this rainbow in yarn. It is not finished yet, he tells me and I look forward to other rides yet to come where I can see the progress of this creative project.
The rain begins to fall not long after I leave, but I am pleased that I decided to stop and know the meaning behind the art and meet its creator.
Serendipitous Event 5
Well, serendipitous event 5 never happened. I am heading back to our cottage as the rain falls and then the skies clear again. I watch expectantly for Steve O’Brien. The way things have been going, I expect to see him around the next corner or over the next hill. I use all my serendipitous powers to will him to appear. As I turn off the main highway, towards my cottage, I can’t help but thinking he must be near, but alas, I don’t see him.