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Take a Breath. Leaves are Green. Radishes are Red. Hug Somebody

By David Sherman

After this week’s barrage of pandemonium on the news – insert your personal summary of insanity here – I was lying in bed thinking of the day’s drive to the city. In June, almost overnight, the mountains turn from brackish brown to brilliant green, trees shining in the late spring sun. And whatever the revelations beamed into the basement on CNN can’t change that. From now, until the leaves change to their annual rainbow of fall colours, the silent eternity of those hills doesn’t fail to push the incessant news aside.

Got me thinking of a few things that make life in the times of crazy more than bearable.

There is, of course, hugging the person or persons you love or maybe just like a whole lot. In my case, I like to wrap my arms around my partner, Reisa, who is about to reopen her restaurant, with all the complications and risks that entails, so up close and personal is perhaps more necessary today than yesterday.

And, if I’m thinking of the big city, then I think of The Main Deli. Yeah, they have matzoh balls and latkes, and their tongue is not as good as Toronto’s great Caplansky’s, but their smoked meat, the real stuff, spicy, juicy, fat laden, is worth the 200 km drive, especially if you turbo charge it with fries and a Coke over ice, tricked out with a lemon slice or two. I pity vegetarians.

In the large town up the road and, of course, in Montreal, there are young women in summer dress, or lack of same. Lots of flesh exposed by seemingly joyous, optimistic, confident, pretty girls, a delightful embodiment of youth, sexy and innocent at the same time. The next generation of mothers, they give an illusion of hope for the future. May the world treat them as well as they deserve. And if enjoying the sight of women makes me sexist, I don’t care.

Heading south on the 329 toward Lachute, a favourite route for bikers on Harleys, a road I’ve taken hundreds of times, in the sunshine, winter or summer, it’s a perfect drive to park your brain in the trunk and soak up the mountains on the right, fresh lakes on the left, hills and valleys undulating and visible ahead for kilometres, tight curves and places to pass those who find 90 km/hr too taxing. Open the windows, hit the accelerator, or not, and rejoice that they have yet to drop any gas stations or box stores to clutter the drive. Makes me and my old Chevy almost feel young again.

In six months, give or take, there are the perfect winter nights for walking, when the moon is bright and clear, the air sharp and just cold enough, like a rejuvenating swim in a chill lake and everything is fresh and white and the world is silent. On special nights, in a light snowfall, you don’t hear the cars coming behind you but their headlights bounce off the snowflakes, turning them into orange fireflies and then the cars drift by soundlessly and disappear and leave you alone with your thoughts and the perfection of nature tinged with the magic of technology.

Waking from a pleasant dream scored during an afternoon nap and finding the cat out cold beside me or snoring in the crook of my legs. Damn the allergies, the cat and I have to co-exist.

Taking a cool swim just after dawn on a clear summer morning and treading water as the rising sun lays a golden path across the lake right to your face and the faint remnant of the moon hangs over the other side of the lake. Take that, CNN.

Those magic moments in hockey, when the game’s in overdrive, passes are perfect and the Canadiens storm the offensive zone and as you watch mesmerized, wondering how can everybody, anybody move so fast, the puck’s in the net, the players are hugging each other and the fans are dancing in the aisles and I’m smiling, happy to bear witness. No beer required.

When the dahlias revive from being bullied and torn from their inadequate plastic baskets and pushed into fresh soil, and appear perfect red and bright and precious, the soil dark brown and damp, their leaves a green as radish tops. Watering them just an excuse to stare at them for a while, though I don’t know why I need an excuse.

Other people’s dogs who like to get up from wherever they’re meditating and come over to say hello and ask to be rubbed, scratched, confided in and appreciated, making me wonder about this most curious and unique relationship.

A leg of Quebec lamb, from farm to barbecue, roasted and smoked with charcoal and maple wood chips and sliced just thick enough, pink inside, crispy outside, served with a bunch of garden fresh red radishes, Nantes carrots, Lebanese cucumbers, a little lemon juice and kosher salt. Tough choice between this and smoked meat for No. 1.

Lying in bed with my lover in the dark, late at night and saying nothing at all.

This is a list of a privileged white guy living in the country. Give it a moment and make your own. No reason to wait for Thanksgiving.

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