Looking at a population map of Canada, an outsider might ask, “But what about all that stuff farther north?” Canadians huddle just about as close to our southern border as we can, rarely far from a single thread of highway that spans the country, one of the longest roads in the world. It winds through forests, across endless prairies and up into crisp-air mountain passes.
Dead in the middle, on a stretch of the highway that most people don’t find much use for, is the town of Falcon Lake. It’s an unnoticed speck from an airplane window, but down on the ground, among the needled trees and rocky shores, is a place where people from the nearby slow-moving city get away to somewhere even slower. The fish are big, but the stories of life there are bigger.
Away from the bustle and noise of life, people begin to notice the details. (If a detail falls but everyone is too busy to hear it, does it make a sound?) When trains no longer run on time, you wait for the train but for your trouble you get to tell the story of that very interesting fellow you met on the platform. Where expectations are lax, characters who don’t find their place in stricter worlds settle in. And, the folks you meet might eventually become wise to the fact that you are quite a character yourself.
Such a place can be found down at the end of the road that runs around Falcon Lake. There, you’ll come across some old-fashioned ski slopes and a clump of finely-built cabins nestled in the Jack Pines, or Christmas Trees as I call them. You’ve arrived at Falcon Trails Resort, the setting for most of the stories in this book.
Two years ago I wandered into the unique world of the resort. The people welcomed me and soon my visits to Falcon Lake included standing next to a tone-deaf tenor at choir practice, slipping around under the lights of the curling rink as I subbed for the Sweeping Toms and building an outhouse in exchange for the use of a log cabin for the winter.
I took to wearing a very old knitted sweater that several people informed me was actually theirs. I found myself taking off that sweater for clothing-optional wood-fire saunas and, on occasion, jumping into frigid lake-water through holes cut in the ice with a chain saw. I found myself writing this book.
I’m not any kind of writer who knows what he’s doing (in fact a teacher friend of mine suggested I re-phrase this exact sentence), but I’d like to take a crack at taking you there, down the highway to Falcon Lake. And so, as my grandma always said when grandpa switched on the blinker at the end of the drive down the Trans-Canada to their shack in the woods, we’ve done arrived.