The Unknown: The Red Line.
  Canada’s border was calling out to us. It spoke in different accents. Minnesota, we had known already. We had had pints of Guinness at a Jazz Bar in St. Paul. It was a Sunday morning, and bright, and wonderful, and so we had breakfast, too. Scott had waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, William had an omelet with American cheese, Dirk had home fries and Wheat Chex and breakfast sausage. We had one round of Bloody Marys and four cups of coffee apiece. We made it past customs at the Minnesota border, having nothing to declare but books, which are always contraband.

We decided to do the Canadian trip because our publicist thought it was a good idea. We did book signings near large bodies of water. We didn’t sell as many books as we had in the States, but there are some great jacket photos of us wearing parkas and standing before rugged backdrops.

In British Columbia, we camped near Ootsa Lake, and signed books for a group of mountaineers headed toward Michael Peak. They liked the poetry. We gave them a cut rate, because they were even poorer than us.

In Saskatchewan, we read at a crowded store named Muldoon’s in the lovely town of Saskatoon (try the corn fritters at Darla’s Rustic Truck Stop—they’re the stuff). A quick signing for a band of duck hunters at the Quill Lakes.

Then on to Manitoba! How could we not? Lake Winnipeg, its majesty, its glacial water, its roaring waves, oh how like an inland sea, so great a body of water! We read short fiction for a group of herdsmen on Reindeer Island, where there were, believe it or not, actual reindeer to feed by hand. How large it was!

Not to forget Ontario, which fingers around the Huron. How immense and great a lake, mighty Huron! Toronto seemed uncomfortably American, considering how American we all were at the time. In London, we sang songs in Welsh (which we did not know but learned from some Welsh Ontarioans). There, surprisingly, The Unknown: The Criticism was a big hit. Two days in North Bay. Our story picked up there by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Very cool guys, who actually pressed a CD of the conversation on the spot, which Scott then lost while swimming in Lake Nipissing. A long story, that. Dirk and William luckily forgave him. It really wasn’t that great of an interview, anyhow. It was just cool that they put it on a CD. But anyway. . . .

On to Ottawa town. We saw otters near Hawkesbury on the river. A ferry to Grenville. Quebec. We tootled in French as best we could till that fabulous night on the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, which turned out to be everything our publicist said it would. The chanting, the fires, the dancing, the local hand-feedable cuisine. I think they were saying Unknown! in French.

Nova Scotia, where we performed scenes for a bunch of maple tree farmers from Vermont, left us in tears. Sappers who made us feel welcome. Oh Canada! If I got drafted I would run to you! I like the way you smell.


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The Unknown at Spineless Books.