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Maple Syrup Criminals and Musical Nostalgia


Blurry windows. Tapping at phones. Window gazers. Sleepers. The Swede sat on the luggage rack and the classic Loud Eater. That familiar streak of towns as we glide through them. On the train, on the move again. And a sudden, distinct moment of nostalgia just hit. A song came on.

“Many days fell away with nothing to show. And the walls kept tumbling down in the city that we loved. Great clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above. But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?”

Oh no. I just put song lyrics in a blog post. Sorry. Who does that? But the point is this – Music. It is cool isn’t it? How peculiar is it that a simple song can take you back to a single moment. I remember it as clear as day. It was the day after cycling away from Niagara Falls, staying with firstly strangers now pals, Heather and Mike. They’d put on a surprise spread and it was cracking. There was real Canadian maple syrup. Not the fake maple syrup, the real stuff. The syrup that’s targetted by organised crime bosses because it’s so good. It marked the end of the Canada section, eh. Crossing over again and riding back into the US for the final few weeks.

The air. Oh crikey. It was starting to get cold. At the time, ‘starting to get cold’ was a less harsh thing to write than ‘it’s f*cking freezing’. Sometimes I felt like a fraud for doing that, softening up the reality of certain days. That was prior to learning that an honest blog makes for a better blog. 

Every morning was more bitter than the previous one. This song came on. The roads were empty. Headphones set to loud – dangerously loud when cars passed by and dangerously fun when they didn’t. When you got going it was perfect. There’s need to soften up a day like that when you get going. Being cold and warming up beats being too hot any day. Ten minutes in and it was perfection. Every pedal-stroke, every mile, and every new song set on a backdrop where the colours could’ve been put on the front of a Happy Autumn postcard.

“But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?”

It does. Sorry again for the lyrics. But the song. It brings back good times. And bad. The whole spectrum. It was the most epic 368 days I’ve had chance to be part of so far. The people and the journey made it what it was. A trip full of intense highs and scraping lows. There’s no bike to look after now though. Not on this mini-trip. I remember the rage it caused sometimes, the desperate desire to get rid of the stress of looking after it so much. Not leaving it anywhere out of sight because it contained everything. Or taking a foolish gamble and locking it up with fingers firmly crossed. Sometimes just hiding it in the nearest trees. But now that worry is missed of course, because that kind of stress changes with time. Like memories do.

Anyway enough of that. There’s just rucksacks now. Two small rucksacks that once again contain everything. There’s a specific reason for being here. An end goal. That is to see this through, to do it and not talk about doing it. I’m going somewhere new, the capital city of Croatia of all places, to finish the Vague Direction book. Creative doubt has kicked in. It’s been kicked in for months in preparation, but that’s sometimes a good thing. I don’t know if it’ll be worth it but would prefer to risk finding out and then going from there. Figure that even if it’s a flop it beats talking about it and not doing it. And it’ll be a weird type of closure.

This trip isn’t as long as last time. Nowhere near. Just enough time. Somewhere without the old distractions, but with new ones to get distracted by. And a deadline of 8 weeks to finish the inside of a book before getting kicked out of by Bizerka the landlord. Because of all that it wasn’t sad leaving this time, just exciting. It’s not for a long time, and it doesn’t revolve around constant movement, so it will be different, but just as new.

The reason behind doing this is simple. The most creative I’ve ever felt was during that year on a bicycle. Ideas flowed like they don’t do in a more regular way of life. Speaking of which, Stanford just released research saying a persons creativity increases 60% when walking. Gonna hedge a very non-academic bet and guess that those kind of results aren’t exclusive to walking. Fresh air and taking a step away from wherever you’re used to have to play a large part. Stepping away from wherever you’re used to. Typical days make it easy to forget about those factors and get too settled in a routine. We all have unique ways to find creative flow and I’m hoping that going somewhere new will provide a way to get immersed in that state.

So after however many months it’s been, it’s time to turn the same playlists back on and delve back into last year. Can’t wait to get this going again. Who knows what nostalgia will kick in when the hip-hop comes on.

“Long as there’s batteries in my Walkman, nothing’s the matter with me, sh*t look on the brightside, least I am walking. I bike ride through the neighbourhood of my apartment complex on a ten-speed, which I’ve acquired parts that I find in the garbage – a frame then put tyres on it, headphones on look straight ahead” – Eminem.



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3 comments on this post

  1. Barb Barna says:

    I am a big fan of all types of music, but one of my favorites is Anne Murray’s Snowbird.

    “Beneath this snowy mantle cold and clean
    The unborn grass lies waiting for its coat to turn to green
    The snowbird sings the song he always sings
    And speaks to me of flowers that will bloom again in spring”

    Best wishes for letting the words flow like water from a spigot. I work with a couple of crazy Croations – they sure know how to have a good time! Good food and good fun!
    Take care
    Barb from Canada

  2. Dave says:

    I liked the way you described words flowing Barb, haha, fingers crossed. Hope all’s well at your end!

    • Barb Barna says:

      Yes, we are all doing well. I just started training for our bike trip. Les bought me a new Trek DS for my birthday-with a Bionex system! Remember riding his up to the university to take photos? Lots of fun! I just have to learn to make the battery stretch out for a long day on the road.

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