Hey hi! Check out my newest stories—a bike adventure along a historic canal that runs 500 kilometres across the south of France. The canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s called Le Canal des Deux Mers—the canal of two seas.
I solo cycle-camped the Canal de Garonne, the Canal du Midi, a section of Mediterranean coastline including the Carmargue, and a bit of the Rhône River.
I drank wine, ate cassoulet, mingled with riverrains, joined some pagans, and slept with four Frenchmen on their canal boat—it’s a story.
I found myself following kangaroo trails instead of park trails (which were grown-over and unmarked anyways). I could quietly stand and watch a kangaroo mum massage her pouch where a young joey might hide.
“The Aldinga Scrub is one of the few remaining patches of native vegetation characterising the pre-settlement coastal scrubland in the vicinity of what is now greater Adelaide. It is of rare significance and is noted for its unusual association of plants including species characteristic of sclerophyll forest, mallee scrub and coastal sands.”
For me as a visitor, it was a nice contrast to the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden which I’d visited with Jared and his family the previous day.
At 1,200 kilometres, the Heysen Trail is Australia’s longest walking trail. It starts in Cape Jervis (the ferry pier for Kangaroo Island) and stretches east and then north towards the Flinders Ranges, ending in the Parachilna Gorge east of Lake Torrens. It’s named after Hans Heysen, a German-born Australian artist.
Jared led me onto a boardwalk trail over sand dunes. We walked and talked about how plants and traditions were both different and similar in Canada’s and Australia’s indigenous cultures.
At the crest of a hill, we paused and looked out. The sea sparkled and the rounded slopes of the land seemed to melt into the blue. The edge of the Great Australian Bight began just west of where we stood.
When you arrive, just park off Esplanade. Use the concrete-mounted binoculars to watch the surfers out on the breaks. Follow the stone steps down to the change room kiosk. Wash off your feet if they’re sandy. Pour some water for your dog. It’s all here.
You’ve got to, you know, go?
Turn around and check out the mural. A white figure of a woman on a surfboard points you to the female toilets and change room. How fun is that?
If you need an all-access space, wheel your chair right in. There’s a surfboard for you too.
Here at Middleton, even if you’re not surfing, you can pee like a surfer—on dry land, anyways.
I feel lucky to have met a kindred spirit. We, like many others, must live through a blue Christmas.
S. lives in Adelaide. Her 31-year-old son died in October.
I’d never met her before, but when I saw on Facebook that she would be in the area with a bicycle, I offered to pedal the nearby Shiraz Trail cycling path with her.
It’s an old railway bed that’s been converted into a paved bike and walking trail. There are many wineries nearby. Unfortunately and as I’ve found in the past, the winery we aimed for was closed and two others were about to close.
No worries. We aimed for a café in McLaren Vale town, ordered pizza and wine, and shared our sentiments about Christmas.
S. has the support of her family and spirit community and so she seems to be doing okay. She has a lot of wisdom and is taking things moment-by-moment, day-by-day.
“You are free”
Me, it’s been thirteen years since my boyfriend P.H. chose to kill himself. His birthday was December 23 and he started feeling low around this time of the year. Like S., I had to learn how to live again, minute by minute. I had to tolerate the months, weeks, days leading up to Christmas.
The dead joy of Christmas.
To survive, I learned that I can mostly escape it by flying to foreign countries. It started with Baja, Mexico, then led to winters in India, France, and this year—Australia.
S. and I talked about all this openly and honestly, and it felt like a blessing.
I had planned to attend the Willunga Uniting Church‘s Blue Christmas service on December 21. But having met S. I feel the peace and companionship I might have found at that gathering. Nonetheless, I feel grateful that this little village church would do such a kind thing as to call a service for those of us who face a blue Christmas.