Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Square 80: Commuting

Square 080

From 1991 to 1995 I commuted to work in Mississauga, a satellite city to Toronto. Throughout those years, the intervening stretch of Highway 401 was under expansion from four lanes to six. Every workday I spent 75 minutes each way pressing bumper to bumper with thousands of other frustrated commuters through narrow construction lanes past industrial parks, which metastasized across the landscape. In the course of one year, commuting added to more than 25 days of what felt like wasted life. After it ended, I swore I would never do it again.

When I began building pipe organs in 2006, I had to drive 25 minutes in the opposite direction to Fergus, a small town deeper into rural Ontario. Highway 6 winds through rolling farmland dotted with woods, and if I don't mind taking an extra five minutes I can follow even quieter country roads.

One misty morning last week I spotted an old-fashioned, rusty windmill spinning in a field of golden corn stubble. The colours of that landscape inspired this square.

I do not begrudge one minute of these driving times. I look forward to them. Each morning the countryside enfolds me like a lover, and carries me to blissful heights of distraction. I try to put everything else out of my head and concentrate entirely on the rhythm of this pilgrimage. It is a twice-daily meditation.