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Judith Fitzgerald carrying the torch through New Liskeard, ON.
Judith Fitzgerald carrying the torch through New Liskeard, ON.

The Tuesday Essay

Torch 'n' glow (or touch 'n' go) Add to ...

Then? I call my Northern BFF / bank manager: "Guess what?" (I think I peep-squeak chirped.)

"You won the lottery?"

"How did you guess? Almost! I am the Olympic Torch Bearer for Poetry on the last day of the year! Yes, I am! I carry THE Olympic Torch into the new year and you know who carries it on New Year's Day? The day AFTER moi? Day 64? Shania Twain in Timmins!"

"Really? Really, really? WOW!"

"Yeah, really, really! I'm so excited I could drop my dires! They sent me my uniform. It's XXS but it's still too big. It has neat little strings and pulleys, though; I can make it fit. They sent me a tuque, an Olympic tuque, a thinking tuque! But, the red mittens! They're precious . . . and, so cute! Really! They have a beautiful white Maple Leaf stitched inside on the palms and the Olympic Rings outside; they're just . . . ah . . . adorable!"

"Uh, yeah, Judith . . . They're for sale all over the country. 'Wear your heart on your hands.' Ring a bell? You're not getting out much yet, are you?"

"Oh, yes. I have been going places. Whose heart on whose hands? I went to Bo and Doc's place for the Grey Cup Game! They have a TV! HDTV! I lost five bucks - too many men on the field - but, that was a good trial run. AND?"


"AND, I've been practising walking without my cane. I think I can do 300 metres without it! I am confident I can. I don't want to walk with the Torch and have the cane, too. I feel good. I feel strong. I feel invincible! Hear me roar! I am a Torch Bearer, eh? I have to be in New Liskeard at 11:30 on New Year's Eve Day. I do my run - er, walk - at 1:05 p.m. Did you see there were protesters on TV? I saw the woman on the 'net. You think I should take my cane? Nah . . . I heard they beefed up security. I'll have all kinds of hunky RCMP guys who will walk with me. I've been watching the others on the CTV 'site! Oooh . . . I don't need my cane! It's all happening, just like they said it would."

"I'm so proud of you. Congratulations! I knew you'd ace it. I never doubted it. You wrote a poem?"


"Must've been a good poem. You're carrying the Olympic Torch for poets across the country?"

"Yep. Day 63. Last day of the year."

"Can you read it to me?"



"Nope. I'm not showing it to anyone until I write this Tuesday Essay for the Globe and Mail."

"Oh, I see. You're writing about carrying the Olympic Torch for The Globe? Coolness."

"I'm mentioning Jack Tennant's, too, you know?"

"You wouldn't dare!"

"I have my priorities straight, Ma'am! Coolness! Gotta go! 'Bye."

Coolness? Freezingness. It's the coldest day on record in New Liskeard (a.k.a. Temiskaming Shores). It's minus a million. I kid you not. The mayor later tells me we're breaking all kinds of weather records with the blizzard and snow - once we finally find the mayor and the real Olympic bus that has the other nine Torchers on it.

We got lost. We improvised. I missed the debriefing; but, I did eventually manage to breathe a quick "HOWDY" to everyone on the real Olympic bus just for us. That was after we reached that other Olympic bus - the short-shuttle bus - upon discovering it parked at McDonald's. A pair of guys sitting near the front, eating their lunch, couldn't miss us. We pulled up in front of the short-shuttle bus and made sure it went nowhere without the poetry-representing Torch Bearer. I climbed out of our car. I started hobbling towards the little short-shuttle bus with the Olympic logo and one of the guys came out and went, "Judith? OTR063-052? Are you that Judith?"

"YES! OTR063-052! Lost!"

"Judith! Good grief! Hold on!" He pulls out his cellphone or walkie-talkie or something. He punches in some numbers. I try to see but I'm smaller than he is (or, actually, he's way taller than I am). "Guess what? Guess who we've got? Judith! We've got Judith! OTR063-052! The poet! She's tiny!"

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