Beginning year two of this, um, whatever we're going to call this pile of words, I'm going for a new title format. I know. Just like making a slight change to the wrapper, right?
It’s just about an American stereotype, people not liking the holidays for how it makes them feel. That there’s something hopeless about them. I can’t speak for anywhere else around the world (the Canadians always seem happy, mind), but I have a slightly different feeling than most, I suspect.
For me, I like to have my days off when the rest of the world is still going on. I’d rather have a Tuesday off rather than, say, a weekend. There are four or five holidays a year I really don’t like, namely Christmas, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, and the 4th of July. They’re the days when everything is closed and I struggle to find things to do.
Because I feel like I’m missing out on something. Like there’s the end of a parade just around the corner, somewhere down the road, and I’ve missed it. That everyone else is having fun and I don’t quite know how.
Christmas Eve, however, meant just about everyone else was still working, and I had the day off. It was also the rare day when the sun was actually out and there was some blue to capture. This means I grabbed the trusty Canon AE-1 Program and headed off for a drive.
I headed down to M203 (the top two photos), heading out towards McLain State Park. Of course, with my little Smart ForTwo, I wasn’t going to make it into the unplowed driveway. I parked across the street, next to the mailbox where there was a bit of plowing.
Unfortunately, the angle was just wrong after I took my photos and I couldn’t quite get my car back up onto the highway (it was about four feet lower on a relatively shallow grade). I was set to push it myself (I’ve done it before) while it was in neutral. Since there had been exactly zero other cars on the road so far (ten miles in), I wasn’t terribly concerned about it rolling into traffic.
Instead, at just that moment, someone else came by and hopped out to help. Nice guy. I was wearing my new Vancouver Canucks hoodie, one that looks quite a bit like their jersey. I tend to not buy jerseys because they change and look dated, whereas a sweatshirt that’s a bit old or different colours is still a bit cool. He said he loved the hoodie but hates the Canucks. He used to run the zamboni at the Pepsi Center in Denver and said they were the rudest. I felt the need to apologize for that.
One good shove and I was out.
Up the road in Calumet (where I was off to deliver a present to a friend), Christmas Eve also happened to be, this year, 100 years to the day of the Italian Hall disaster. Long story short, in the evening, in the midst of one of the seminal moments of the labour movement (the 1913 copper strike), someone shouted “fire” in the crowded Italian Hall. Stampeding led to many deaths, largely children.
It’s quiet here today. Under this sky, that seems as it should be.
The rest of the drive was pleasant, and I reloaded the camera and started firing blindly. I’d call them hipshots, but, well, that would really only get you looking at my gear shifter. Some fun, though.
I needed this. I needed this afternoon, just before I went to dinner with my friend Liz’s family. @upchickadee worked late, and we caught up over some leftover pizza later in the night. I needed this time to breathe. This time to be out while everyone else is in. I needed to see.
Nevermind the next day, and I love Boxing Day (English Premier League and I get to go to work), but for this day, in the sun and the snow, the memories and the manners of hockey teams, I never once felt like the parade had passed me by.
I drove out there, too. It wasn’t just around the next bend in the road.
Words and photos by Kevin Hodur. Previously calling suburban Chicago and Portland home, Kevin now lives and works as a writer on Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Catch more editions of The Road Rarely Traveled next time, written approximately whenever.