A world traveller returns to my life this week, and I have some mixed emotions about it.
My mother has spent the last six weeks out of the country, five of them visiting with my brother and his family in Brisbane, and the last few days in Hawaii, taking tours and having a look around.
When I pick her up, I will give her several hugs, a bottle of Melatonin to combat jet lag and reluctantly, the keys to her vehicle.
She drives a truck, a big one, with snow tires and four wheel drive.
When I dropped her off at the airport for the start of the journey, she told me to use the truck while she was gone. I took her up on the offer, knowing my aging VW Beetle is great on gas, but in the snow, not so much. It hardly snowed over Christmas, so my only 'benefit' from the truck was the enormous bill every time I filled its tank. These last few days, however, my gratitude for those big wheels has grown.
To be fair to Byng the Bug, there has been exactly one time I haven't made it where I was going in the snow these last 13 years. The first weekend I brought Byng to my parents' farm from Weirs, back in the winter of 1999, my dad refused to blow out the driveway to let me get to the Mountain View. I tried and failed to get out after the Leafs game, although I was so angry, I might have melted some of the snow that was up past Byng's doors. Since then, with front wheel drive and no snow tires, there have been a lot of gasps and worries during my wanders. I like to say 'It's not the tires, it's the driver,", but I admit it: I'm simply too cheap to buy snow tires when there are shoes I don't own yet!
Byng is on his last legs; he's 15 years old and I have loved him desperately, but soon, he will have to go. I haven't decided with what to replace him, but I'm thinking it might have to be something with four-by. And maybe something more up to date than a cassette player. Maybe.
Oh, I didn't like paying the bill for the gas on the Ridgeline, but I sure did enjoy never once wondering if I could make a turn or whether I might get into my driveway, piled high by the snow plows.