I packed my belongings in such a hurry for my trip, that I failed to pack a book. I knew I had an all-day train ride from Toronto to Quebec City, and wondered how I’d pass the time without a good story. Ironically, I had filled my suitcase with hardcover books to pass along to my son, who we were meeting in Quebec City. I carefully viewed the titles but not one caught my fancy. They were mostly history books covering such topics a world war II, the geography of the Caribbean during the time of Columbus, and lastly the treasures of ancient Egypt. I must admit, I could not muster up a speck of interest in the entire suitcase load.
The first night, we spent at my daughter’s and it was there that I spied, resting on her windowsill, a 1919 copy of “Rainbow Valley” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I grew up on a diet of L.M.Montgomery stories but never before had I read Rainbow Valley. I wasn’t sure if it was a story designed for children, but either way, I tucked it into my suitcase, filled with anticipation for our journey by train.
Early in the morning, we set off to the train station. It was to be a 12-hour journey in total, including a two-hour stopover in Montreal. It’s been over twenty years since a passenger train has whistled through my home town of Thunder Bay, and this was a treat I’d been dreaming about for weeks. (On a side note, when passenger service was cut and the last passenger train rolled through town, a group of citizens protested by chanting “Via, Via, Bring it back. Tie Mulroney to the track!”) Once settled on the train, it didn’t take long for a friendly Porter to bring round the trolley. What’s a good book without a hot cup of tea? To my delight, they carried a selection of delicious-tasting teas. I can attest to this fact, as I tried out three different varieties over the course of the journey.
Along the way, we all conversed and enjoyed the scenery, including a blue heron swooping across the sky, until finally we settled into napping and/or reading. It wasn’t long before I was completely drawn into the story of Rainbow Valley, which follows the story of a motherless family of children who run a bit wild, but mean no harm to anyone. As it often is the case while reading fiction for young adults, it seemed to be a lighthearted sort of read. And yet, 106 pages into the book, I found myself taken with a passage. It read as follows, “It is never quite safe to think we have done with life. When we imagine we have finished our story, fate has a trick of turning the page and showing us yet another chapter.”
Why did I relate so strongly to this passage? Was it because I had always imagined my life a certain way; a way I was happy with; a way I had committed to with all the strength I could muster, and now that “way” had changed? A door had opened and even though I had stepped through it, perhaps a small part of me was still looking back at the way things used to be. L.M. Montgomery jolted me into looking forward again; fearlessly I would turn yet another page and allow myself to be surprised.
As a final thought, a trip to Quebec City with loved ones can only be filled with delights. But sometimes, it’s the journey to a place that is equal in importance to the place itself.