“On to the village,” I say, rinsing my cup and wiping my hands dry with the tea towel. I unplug my laptop I left charging all night, and on a whim roll up the cord and stash it in my backpack. Who’s to say I won’t brave the café and conquer ordering out loud something else besides firewood, today?

I set out at a brisk pace with a new spring in my step, energized by the prospect of widening my horizons even if only from behind a cup of coffee or the lens of a camera.

There’s a definite shift in the air and I breathe the moment in, committing it to deeper memory.

The lake cottage sits at the end of a private lane more than half a kilometer away from the main road, le Chemin de la Rivière, the linear park intersects. I love the tranquility this place exudes, nestled deep into the forest. Here, I don’t feel as acutely the relentless silence cocooning me from the outside, within. Not in the oppressive way I felt while in Montréal, I realize, leaving me dependant on others. Losing one of my main sensory perceptions used to leave my nerves in a constant state of high alertness over there, keeping me off-balance, and it’s nice to be able to relax my guard from time to time, and go with the flow, carefree.

However, being so far out in the woods is also the reason why the local cable company is unable to supply my rented cottage with high speed internet. Not unless the owners are ready to foot the bill for the heavy infrastructure required to bring cable up there, whether aerial or subterranean, anyway. And the signal for a satellite dish is close to nil at best, according to them; the small lake surrounded from all sides by woodsy mountains and granite cliffs.

I don’t really mind, but I can’t say the same for P.O. That guy almost had a stroke upon learning from the tech guy online that there was no internet connection to be had where I lived.

P.O. … Now there’s an enigma. I’ll miss him once I’m all caught up, I’m sure. Strange as it seems, it’s as though I’ve known him all my life and I’ve come to enjoy our daily online chats, looking forward to them. Not that I’ve ever known a total geek before, but I kind of like his quirkiness and sharp wit. With no expectations whatsoever, this anonymity lying between us lets me be me and it makes me feel . . . whole again, I guess. And that’s addictive. Even his grumbles are endearing when he complains about yet again, having to cut short one of our sessions as they can only last until all of Harry’s battery power depletes and he shuts down.

Harry is high maintenance and power hungry, I wrote to P.O. by the next session, following the first time it happened less than an hour into it, shrugging it off as, a male thing come to think of it.

Unimpressive, was his reply.

You almost earned a no comment from the peanut gallery with that one. Almost. But not quite. At the most, you get a free pass (just this once, mind you) for your ‘male thing’ comment, but that’s all. Let’s not confuse high maintenance with high tech, here, a marvel of computer engineering! Artificial intelligence at its finest. Furthermore, may I point out that poor Harry is the antithesis of power hungry. Give the guy a break. He burns off energy trying to keep up with your demands while you leave him unplugged and unstable.

Ha! Good one. My demands? More like your (32 bits) bus loads of commands (insert (slave) driver.). C:\\ how well I learned? Aren’t you proud (insert a 256 palettes of 256 colors beaming smile)! Besides, what can I say? Harry is as fickle as (dot.dot.dot.)! Do notice I’m refraining from another male thing comment, here. But (alas) unplugged and unstable he’ll have to remain. Sucks to be him. Go (con)figure.

No comment from the peanut gallery. Well, other than this. FATAL SYSTEM ERROR: Press F13 to continue… Did I create a monster??!!

A cookie one I hope?

I did create a monster! (Awesome.)

I grin, remembering P.O. volunteering right after to pay for the cost of cable installation up at the cottage. I wouldn’t mind paying for it, either, if only to thank my kindly landlords for renting me this slice of paradise, but the owners, a couple of university professors away on a sabbatical in Europe for a year, use it as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern day life. No TV. No internet. Felicity in the form of a loft upstairs under the heaves, filled with books and some more books. A secret reading nook only accessible by ladder. I can so relate to that. One of my very own definition of a personal haven and, quite frankly, one pretty cool taste of Heaven for now. So, I’m not about to interfere with it by leaving a permanent mark behind me. Besides, limited access to WiFi connections down in the village more than does it for me.

Book nerd, one. Computer nerd, zero. Take that P.O.

I chuckle, wondering if his ears are ringing right now all the way to Boston.

Upon reaching the end of the private lane, I look left, then right, and look again one last time before crossing le Chemin de la Rivière. From there, my hike down Le P’tit Train du Nord linear trail all the way to the village takes me a solid hour. I love every minute of it, though, as I don’t have to worry about cars running me over if I get distracted by the breathtaking scenery unfolding at every turn as I get lost in contemplation. Something which happens more and more, I can’t help but notice.

It’s as though I see beauty everywhere now. And maybe there is. And maybe I am.

The path follows la Rivière du Nord flowing through the valley, and I usually stop on my way down to sit on the flat boulders lining the river’s banks and admire the white water rushing by and the swirls and funnels it creates. “But not today,” I murmur, filled with purpose.

Today, I itch to get my hands on a camera and capture these moments instead, for all infinitude. Like these two dragonflies pursuing one another over a patch of wild grass growing by the side of the groomed trail. I see light, angles, transparencies, shapes, frames…

“Do you feel the change in the air?” I ask them while watching their antics. They hover over me for a brief instant. Enchanted, I take it as a good sign.

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