Even after I crossed into the U.S., I considered this a temporary detour. America was a great place to visit, but why would I choose to stay? Even if I wanted to stay, it would not be legally possible. Better to keep to my folk-festival plans and find my way back up to Winnipeg.
Just as I had long been unaware of my deeply held desire to be a writer, I was also unaware that I harbored a similarly powerful call to settle in the United States. The nice thing about living in surrender is that as I remain open to the wisdom and guidance of my infinite mind — as I listen to my heart — my passions naturally find their way to the surface. On this particular journey, as had already occurred multiple times in the three weeks since I left Toronto, my car was often the key.
Before leaving Baudette, I consulted my road atlas and found a series of back roads west of town that would loop me back into Canada within a few hours. Soon, though, I found myself driving under a dense canopy of trees along a right-angled maze of Forest Service dirt roads, roads not mapped out in my Rand-McNally. Ninety minutes later, to my surprise, I wasn’t ninety minutes west of Baudette. I was back in Baudette, without knowing how I got there. In that moment, I knew that there would be no folk festival for me. I let the car pull me toward southbound I-71 and deeper into the U.S.
The pull must have been stronger than I knew. Within moments, a Minnesota state trooper had pulled me over for speeding. When he saw my Ontario plates and driver’s license, he grinned and issued me nothing but a warning. His hometown, he said, was Kapuskasing, in northeastern Ontario.
Whether at home or in the car, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had long been my favorite radio companion. And with Baudette so close to the border, the CBC signal was still powerful. That morning, as most mornings, I was tuned to Peter Gzowski’s Morningside program, a three-hour, magazine-style celebration of things Canadian. The signal started strong. But as I continued southwest toward Bemidji, Morningside grew weaker and weaker. Finally, Gzowski’s voice stuttered into solid static.
Canada was gone.
In that moment, I knew that I was, too — for good.
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