An unusual occurrence during one of my nature hikes in Riverlot 56 some months ago has remained etched in my memory. I was strolling along a narrow path through vegetation nearly as tall as I am when I heard soft quacking sounds. “How strange,” I thought. “I must be more than two miles from the Sturgeon River!” In disbelief I came to a standstill, and then watched as two brown fluffy ducklings waddled right up to me, paused for the briefest of seconds, and then brushed past my feet as though I was just another obstacle on their way home.
I could make no sense of it until I heard a shrill honking overhead. When I glanced skyward, I spotted an adult duck, almost certainly the frantic mother searching for her offspring. Had the ducklings embarked upon an adventure and become lost? Would they make it back to the river and be returned to their frenzied parents’ nest? But alas, I shall never know, and at best, I could only consider my experience surreal.
It was not unlike many of my interactions since the launch of Arriving: 1909-1919 on October 29, 2011, when I became a published author at nearly 66. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines surreal as “… bizarre, unreal, dreamlike, fantastic.”
Over the course of nearly three years, I have had many encounters of the human kind that have been far beyond my customary reality and have caused me to shake my head in wonderment.
I was on the way to deliver my first book of the Understanding Ursula trilogy to a friend when, to my surprise, a stranger greeted me at the door of her home. When she introduced herself, I realized I had the right number for the house, but I had driven down the wrong cul-de-sac. Nonetheless, this stranger named Molly purchased Arriving: 1909-1919 on the spot, attended the launch of Thriving: 1920-1939 and of Choosing: 1940-1989 along with her golfing friends, and she has become an avid fan.
At a recent market, I was approached by Ralph: “I doubt if you remember me, but we were in the same restaurant this past Wednesday. I’m a member of the book club you stopped to speak with, just as we were discussing a story about how people who are larger than life are a dying breed, and then you popped up at our table. I can’t wait to begin reading Arriving!”
At the end of this school year, I had stopped to express my farewell to Sandy, my grandchild’s Grade II teacher, who was retiring, when she arrested me in my tracks with these words: “I tell so many people your story—how you are such an ordinary person, how you are always taking care of your grandson, and yet how you are the most amazing writer!”
And then there’s Jacques who brings me coffee and blueberry custard tarts at City Market.
I shall always consider Wayne W. Dyer’s perspective profound: “We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings emersed in a human experience.