There we were, two middle-aged, Prada-clad women with great haircuts, sitting in a boardroom. Between us on the table, her Blackberry buzzed relentlessly. She ignored it, I suspect, because her mouth was hanging open. Although I'd been her number one speechwriter for many years, somehow I'd never mentioned what I do in my spare time. Clearly, because she considers me to be so completely urban, she was having trouble picturing me with dirt under my manicured fingernails.
How do I unwind? My bio says it all, "Julia kayaks as often as possible on Georgian Bay".
Georgian Bay is a place as far, far away from the work world as I can get - but is still within easy driving distance of my home. It's part of the Great Lakes, off Lake Huron. And I particularly like to paddle out of Killarney, which is the most beautiful place in the world (a claim I take quite seriously - I've added a note to my will, ensuring that my ashes will be scattered there).
What's so great about Killarney? It's beyond the reach of Blackberries and cell phones. Killarney Provincial Park is where the Group of Seven did much of their painting. It's where the skull of the earth peeks through (pink granite reaches out into the clear waters of the bay). And, even at peak season, it's far from the madding crowd.
I do confess that I have had, as my middle stepson so eloquently put it, "enough camping for my whole life!". So, these days, after putting ashore, I make use of the charmingly rustic facilities at Killarney Mountain Lodge. It's a caught in a time warp, this lodge (check out the 1960s-era Carousel Lounge). And it even has a connection to Jimmy Hoffa.
Life is slow in Killarney. I sleep a lot. Read. Eat way too much home-cooked food. Hike the La Cloche range. Sail, especially under the stars. And paddle. What I don't do is check email or voice mail, or even think too much about what's going on in the busy, busy places I've left behind.
Is it such a stretch to see a woman who loves city life as someone who's also capable of embracing the bush? It seems that this dichotomy has been part of my identity forever. Just the other day my 79-year-old mother told me that when I was a little girl she could dress me up and take me to tea parties with her friends or watch me climb trees with my brothers. Fifty-three years later, it still works for me.
Julia Moulden is on tour, talking about the New Radicals.