Just beyond this wild forest and moory wetland, over those fields of cultivated gardens, is the Walmart. Almost A Hermit.

The Hermitage at Ignatius, Guelph. View from the trail.
The Hermitage at Ignatius, Guelph. View from the trail.

The toilet always sets the tone. Smell– the first sense to emerge, even in utero– is our most dominant and most neglected receptor (except when the smell is impossible to ignore, then it reigns supreme). The hermitage loo wafted cedar and fresh air, slug and earth. Toilet paper rolled tight inside a Tupperwear; shovel and bucket of cedar chips smother the waste. Basic needs met, and beyond: a moon-shaped sunbeam glowed white on the back wall. Even a view, if one dared to leave the door open, which I did.


These three days would be simple.  I’m here for the bountiful nothing. The bountiful nothing of all that grows and languishes all around and in me, too.  Apples reddening on the boughs; field flowers drying to a grey. Spider webs assembled and disassembled. Just things changing form.




I would write, walk, sleep, write, walk, sleep with just me. I came here to get away from you.



I foraged for dandelions and wild edibles, ate an apple from the orchard floor, drank a jar of Chantalle’s juiced greens from a tin cup with a simple message.



I loved my alone time. For about a half-day.

You were everywhere– you, who came before me, now dead and alive (your private notes of hope and fear you left in the drawer of the writing desk (I read them one hundred times, resisted correcting your spelling errors), your pamphlets on ecology and spirituality and all your dreams as stewards of this land from decades before, your chocolate you left on the ledge above the camp stove, with an expiring date circled (you care about me) and the chair you placed at the perfect spot for the morning sun.)




You, just beyond the wildness of here: you, filling your cart with bananas and deli meat; you, parking your cart outside the washroom while you pee; you, scolding your child as you shop at the Walmart over there in that wildness across this field.  You are here, too, sharing this same sunrise.


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