I dropped the dog off for the day at The Fox & Hound farm this morning with a vision of laundry sitting heavily on me, like a big old stinky hat. It was sunny, in that the sun was actually visible as the horizon spun east to meet it. The temperature mild (only minus 5 celcius). The roads clear. The fm radio stations were playing old soft, heart-warming romantic tunes mixed with old metal sing-alongs. So I threw the idea of laundry off and headed east, to find Petrolia.
There aren’t any words, really, to express the joy I feel while travelling at high speed, behind the wheel of my own car, singing along to the radio. It doesn’t matter where I go; I am certain I’ll find my way home – just not YET! I’m happy to slow for towns, school zones, and kids crossing streets to get to school, but it’s the going that is so exciting. It’s the psychological wonder of the automobile, over 100 years old, but new in me. It’s the reason conservative Saudi clerics don’t want women to drive. It’s flying on land. It is a lot of responsibility. And it is just plain fun.
Last time I ventured out in this direction, I was one major road too far west. This morning, I am happy to report, I found the very small town of Wyoming, and the small town of Petrolia. Most of the land there – and here – is low-lying swamp. What a job earlier farmers must’ve had scratching a living out of that. I can hear mosquitoes now, and it’s January. And I drove through before nine this morning.
But then, of course, after farms started scratching, came oil. The train passes through the southern end of Wyoming, Ontario at a level crossing. Hundreds and hundreds of cars clink-ca-chunked by, full of oil, cars, car parts, stuff, and things. The wealth of the land, heading off to new car dealers and manufacturers and gas distributors further east. From Sarnia? Windsor? From Detroit? And probably points beyond.
And then, follow the sign: DOWNTOWN PETROLIA (turn right).
You know you’re there because you can smell it. Sarnia’s had that odour once since I moved here in October. It was a very thick miasma this morning. Overlooking that, and just out of range of the smell:
I imagine an oil family built it. I didn’t want Google to tell me, but I did learn that it may be being renovated. It’s an eye-popping beauty. It’s a high perch up off and away from a valley of gack. It’s an obvious reminder of who was who and who was not.
I made my way through Corunna and up the river. Filled the gas tank, got the car washed. Bought some groceries, and stopped at the store pharmacy to get a flu shot. A free injection to help prevent me from getting influenza. At the grocery store pharmacy.
Last night, I watched a documentary on Netflix about Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. She was ill with pancreatic cancer during the filming, and trying to hold her life and the band together. Without gigs, the band earned no money. Her treatment is guessed at about “a hundred thousand dollars” by someone in the film. It was finished before Miss Jones died, late this last fall, 2016.
If she’d been Canadian, she’d have had free health care. I wonder if she would’ve sought treatment sooner, and I wonder if she’d have lived longer.
I watched a long trainload of wealth pass by me this morning, Canadian and American goods, all the same, and I cannot for the life of me understand American attitudes toward universally available medical treatment. Resisting care for all. How lucky to be on this side of the St. Clair River.
Four loads of laundry is why I got done before lunch.
Time to go get one tired dog.