Driving English Rose

May 25, 2018 | 6 comments |

Some people like driving, and getting behind the wheel of a car and heading for the open road is one of their happy places. I’m not one of those people!

As a sedentary writer, one of the things I like best about my small-town life is that I live within walking distance of essential services. Most days, the car sits in the driveway, and I only use it on the rare occasions when I need to go farther afield.

Yet, over the past few weeks, I’ve spent many hours on four wheels. As some of you know, English Rose had a bad accident in school gym class in late April and between a concussion, knee/leg injury, and her existing chronic health condition, she’s had multiple medical appointments—five last week alone.

However, as I’ve driven around the Rideau Valley from north to south and various points in between, I’ve found unexpected blessings.

Watching spring come

After a long, harsh winter, each day brings new signs of spring. From the first hint of leaves on the winter-bare trees, to a mist of technicolour green punctuated by colorful spring blooms, my journeys along rural roads have encouraged me to celebrate the joys this season of renewal brings.

And this year, I’ve truly savoured the sights and scents of spring’s gentle progress, from daffodils to tulips and now crab apple blossoms, along with muddy farm fields being readied for planting. 

Rural mailboxes

Living in a town and collecting mail at the post office, I was oblivious to how the humble mailbox can be a piece of roadside folk art.

Mailboxes shaped like fish, barns, log cabins, dogs, cows, trucks and even boats dot our rural landscape, and “spot the mailbox” has become a new favourite game. 

Teachable moments

In Ontario, we’re preparing for a provincial election (a bit like an election for a state government in the US) and lawn signs promoting candidates proliferate like dandelions.

Thanks to my travels, I’m now well-versed on the different candidates and their platforms, and English Rose and I have had several thoughtful conversations about what governments do.

In the not too distant past, women in Canada (and elsewhere) didn’t have the right to vote. Each time I’m in a polling booth, I remember the women who fought to give me the franchise and marking my ballot is a responsibility I take seriously.

Some of the most important lessons I can teach my daughter are that casting a vote in a public election is a privilege, and how to assess what each candidate and party offers to make an informed choice.

Mother-daughter bonding

In what seems like the blink of an eye, my “little” English Rose became a teenager and, to some extent, part of a world I sometimes don’t understand.

These car journeys have helped us talk about big life issues in low-key and non-threatening ways. I’ve also found out more about her friends, dreams, and worries than I ever would have at home in our living room.

We’ve laughed together more than usual too, celebrating our similarities and differences, and I get glimpses of the adult friend I hope my daughter will become…someone with whom I’ll still share a love of discovering ice cream shops and beautiful places to enjoy sweet treats. 




  1. Jennifer Wilck

    See, there’s always an upside! I love car conversations. For some reason, it’s easier for them to talk to us when they don’t have to look directly at us (or us at them).

    • Jen Gilroy

      There’s definitely something about the car environment, Jennifer. My husband and I have our best talks when we’re driving somewhere together in the car too! Thanks for reading and commenting on my post.

  2. Heidi

    It’s amazing how many “unlooked for” blessings and miracles there can be in our everyday lives. Good on you for finding so many in your unexpected role of chauffeur. And yes, some of the best conversations with children happen in the car!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Heidi. Sometimes those “blessings” can be hard to find but they’re usually there if we look hard enough. I’m glad you have good conversations with your children in the car too! I appreciate you commenting.

  3. Susanna Bavin

    I too live in a place where everything is in walking distance and count it as one of life’s blessings – especially having the sea just five minutes away! One consequence of moving here is that I do relatively little driving these days, so I do feel for you, having to make these long journeys. I’m glad to know that you and English Rose have had the chance to talk and enjoy one another’s company.

    I had no idea that mailboxes came in different shapes and styles – what fun!

  4. Jen Gilroy

    Thank you, Susanna. As always, I appreciate your support of my blog. It’s lovely that you share my appreciation for walking. I find it helpful for sorting writing problems too!

    I shall have to take a picture of a mailbox for you. I saw a gorgeous ‘log cabin’ style one yesterday.


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