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A Barnacle Jaunt to Lunenburg, Vermont

When you hit The Road alone, you have a lot of time to think. 

Time to think is time to feel. 

And when you travel the Lunenburg-Montreal cultural corridor, there’s a lot to feel.

I hit The Road one Friday night early January. Headed west – easy choice, there’s nothing further east but ten minutes of Blue Rocks.

Long night to the Fredericton Days Inn. Long day through snow past St-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Montmagny, to Montreal.

Visiting my friend Julie, we dined with Charlotte and Brigitte – bowled at the Verdun Quilles G Plus – gallery openings in the Belgo Building with Laurel and Dylan. 

Seeing friends in another city is a bittersweet joy – every minute a pleasure, just never enough minutes. Eventually, you go home.

Here’s the best way to Lunenburg from Montreal: head southeast through the border – three hours down the I-91, then follow U.S. Route 2 east until you see signs for Lunenburg.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

Lunenburg, Vermont – population 1,246. Large old Cape Cods engulfed by rolling waves of evergreens – subject of Robert Frost’s The Mountain.

The afternoon I arrived saw heavy snow – the Lunenburg Common at town centre was a flat white pillow, not a footprint until I approached the memorials.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

Next to the common, Lunenburg Town Hall showed recent minutes on a bulletin board – a parallel universe for this reporter. Reading Municipal Planning Committee updates from December, I had to snap myself back into reality after feeling honestly curious about the new Town Plan.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

On the other side of the park, at the Lunenburg Methodist Church, a golden-brown dog waddled up from a nearby home – off-leash, uncollared, warm and well-fed. She nudged me, asking what my business was – I had no answer.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

Heart of the town is the only spot for gas and groceries – the Lunenburg Variety. A quiet, smiling teenager, who I decide to not talk to about my role at a feminist investigative community newsletter called The Lunenburg Barnacle, staffed the small family deli. Ordered the special, the Rodeo Burger, not knowing what that is, trusting what chance suggests.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

Observed a poster detailing snowmobile routes for the Lunenburg Polar Bears. What’s it like to be a Lunenburg Polar Bear? More worlds than you could ever imagine.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

No seating. Brought my food back to my Prius to eat like a YouTube food reviewer, idling in front of Lunenburg Town Hall. Turns out a Rodeo Burger is a hamburger with barbeque sauce and onion rings, and a side of onion rings. Wonderful.

(Photo: Jesse Ward)

Had to score the moment with the perfect song – Leonard Cohen’s Democracy.

Hearing the late, romantic Montrealer playfully sing about hope for unity in the USA, in front of a Lunenburg Town Hall – I plunged into Proustian introspection. 

Back to 2017, hearing the electric violinist transcender of language Laurie Anderson and minimalist pianist Philip Glass cover this song at London’s Royal Festival Hall. 

They also played Wichita Vortex Sutra to the original recording of their friend Allen Ginsberg’s poetry. 

Ginsberg – the transgressive idealist known for spending time in my hometown of Halifax – Beat comrade of Jack Kerouac – the rugged French-Canadian confronter of reality and author of On The Road, the greatest story about being On The Road, which I now was.

Synchronicity. Sublimation. Montreal, Halifax, London, Lunenburg, Lunenburg, Here, Everywhere.

Four hours to the Bangor Super 8 where I’ll edit Sal’s story on Bridgewater supporting a ceasefire in Gaza and transcribe my interview with Mayor Jamie Myra – have to file my story before Tuesday’s council meeting at the Lunenburg Town Hall 500 miles east.

How do you make sense of all these places, these other lives you only witness for a moment?

You never really leave them behind – they’re still just down The Road.

At the rare points The Road stops – like Stonehurst East – you can turn around and take in the perspective from the other side. 

You see what you left behind from a new point of view, and find a second chance for the stops you wanted to make the first time around. 

And, if you’re curious enough to take one of Frost’s roads less travelled by, you just might experience a pure transcendent moment in a Lunenburg.


One response to “A Barnacle Jaunt to Lunenburg, Vermont”

  1. William Sovie

    This was great. Thanks .

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