John Muir once said that with so much of the world to experience he barely had time to write. Usually my life is mundane enough for me to write several hours each morning, but the past six weeks have been the exception. With an unexpectedly long trip to northern Europe followed immediately by my annual fishing trip to Lake of the Woods in Ontario, my writing (including the weekly entries for my blog) has been ignored. It is time to get back to work. One perk of not having time to write is that, once settling back into a routine, there is plenty to write about. 

For the half dozen blog entries to follow, I will write detailed anecdotes about the past month, but for today I’ll lay the general groundwork. In late April, Manyu and I traveled to Alsace in France to visit Manyu’s sister Shauyu and her husband Claude. The highlight of our three-week trip was to be a five-day pilgrimage on a French section of the Camino de Santiago. Led by Claude, Shauyu, and Claude’s cousin Martine, we took the hike, but somewhere along the way I tested positive for COVID. One by one I infected Manyu, Claude, and Shauyu, and our three-week trip extended to five weeks, so that when I returned to La Crosse, I had one day before leaving for Canada. I actually missed the planned departure date by a day, but my fishing companions, once they knew I was on my way home, waited one day so I could still make the trip. Therefore I have three big events to write about – 1) a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on the famed European route to the supposed burial site of Jesus’s disciple James, 2) a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime sequestration in a foreign country unable to come home, and 3) the highlights of my annual fishing trip to Canada. Two were excellent, one was lousy, and even the lousy one might take on positive attributes after a few months have passed. Either way, I am now home, I turn sixty-eight years tomorrow (on May 29), and Jack (my dog) is again happy to have me home. Except for the fact that my lawn needs cutting and my vegetable garden looks abandoned, all is good. 

* Today’s photo is from my hostel room in the village of Conques.

Steven Simpson