Sunday, December 11, 2011

The final instalement of the 101 things we are going to miss about Canada

.In no particular order, except saving the most missed till last, the continuing saga of what we will miss about Canada.   

76) Basements – Australian men have their sheds – Canadians have their basements. What an eminently good idea to double the size of a house by digging into the ground. An entertainment space bonanza – no wonder the Beatles were so successful having started in their basement!

77) Museums – Hamlet, village, town, city – you are not on the map in Canada unless you have a museum. And what an Aladdin’s cave inside. Everyday history brought to life; lovingly preserved by volunteers, most of whom are older than and just as fascinating as the exhibits.

78) Park wash-room hand cleaning – You can be hundreds of miles from the nearest hint of contemporary civilisation; a million fir trees for company; the obligatory aqua blue lake and snow capped peak; you have trekked for hours and finally stumble on a much anticipated wash-room. And would you believe it? Not only does Parks Canada provide toilet paper but there is a full container of alcohol hand sanitiser for when you have finished. You just have to love this country.

79) Colloquial conversation/vernacular values/exceptional expletives - Whilst Canadians are not adverse to venting the spleen with some colourful language, it is the exception rather than the rule. Using curses, oaths and swear words appeared unnecessary; perhaps because the spirited conversations we were engaged in did not involve politics, religion or sex. Stephen Harper, giving out cigars to female interns at Christmas, didn’t bear thinking aboot.

80) Canadian Geese in flight – In addition to the sheer beauty of watching their ambient flight, the V formation could be indicatively Canadian – the shape enables the geese to support one another, each taking turns in the front while others benefit from the wind resistance; the shape also makes it easier to keep track of every bird in the pack. 

81) Smokin’ Stampede (Beer & Chipotle BBQ sauce)  – We are amazed this culinary delight is not gracing every BBQ event around the world. It ranks along side pure maple syrup as an export to cure Canada of her overseas debt.

82) Bear cubs – One look at a bear cub and we understand why the teddy bear is such a popular cuddly toy. Koala’s may look cute, but they only sit in trees all day and wee on you if you get too close. Bear cubs behave just like puppies and kittens and evoke a tidal wave of protective affection – despite being shadowed by 300 pounds of hairy belligerence. 

83) CBC’s Michael Enright – I will miss his insight into Canadian political and social life. Never afraid to confront difficult issues, always appearing open minded and as Australians like to say “gives everyone a fair go”.

84) Pot Luck – Nothing to do with Cannabis; everything to do with eating yourself silly with a myriad of dishes provided by a group of people that bring enough food to feed a small African country for a week. 

85) Curling – No wonder Canadian homes are so clean. So many men, women and children with brooms. We are going to miss the enthusiastic, animated shouting of “harder” and almost chess like strategies to get rocks in the house. We know it is infinitely harder than it looks. Unfortunately the only curlers we will be mixing with in Australian are those you twist you hair around.

86) Caribou – Is it an antler thing? Why do moose and caribou look so goofy but so imposing? We only saw Alaskan  caribou but the thrill of seeing the endangered animals in the distance will be revisited with every Rudolf we see this Christmas. 

87) Toque (Tuque) – French for knitted hat of every style, shape and colour. Eminently suited to the Canadian climate. Don’t be a sook, if you took a toque you just might be a crook. 

88) Snow shoeing – Takes a little getting use to, but we will miss the great fun of strapping tennis rackets to our feet and trying to run up hills and down valleys. We have a feeling Sasquatch foot prints might just be fashion statement.

89)  Autumn leaves – Not in our backyard but anywhere else the crunch, colour and cavalier movement in the wind makes fall a magic time to be outside.

90) Beavers (Castors)-  If we built our houses like the beaver our homes would be the size of the West Edmonton mall. The sheer energy and productive capacity of these amazing semi-aquatic rodents justifies its status as an emblem of Canada.

91) Recycling – Whilst recycling is common in most towns and cities around the world – it is the sheer number of things we were able to recycle and the ease of collection that we will miss. In fact if we are in Canada when I am close to meeting my maker, I am sure I will be suitably re-cycled. 

92) Nearly Bug free days – We must have picked a particularly good year for the lack of annoying flying bugs. We were warned that the mosquitoes up north are so prolific they can carry off some of the smaller RV’s. We only went through one repellent bottle, although sometimes we did have  to resort to a shovel on our windscreen, rather than the ineffective scraper.

93) Chuck Wagon racing – Trotting on crack – we will certainly miss the helter skelter action of wagons, hooves and reins hurtling round a dust track at break neck speed. It certainly didn’t need any additional adrenalin, in the form of betting, to add to the excitement. 

94) Visiting the World’s/Canada’s Largest things – Only limited by imagination and the occasional engineering impossibility; we witnessed  a ‘gigantesque’ (plural for heaps of big things!) array of BIG things. Pyrogy, Pysanka, Starship or Sausage, you name it and the world’s biggest version is in Canada somewhere. We are certainly going to miss scanning the map and the list to see how many of these icons we could cross off on each trip. Check out :

95) Yellow School Buses – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The adage of the North American school bus colour and design. The glossy yellow transport carrier looks the same today as it must have done when Adam caught the bus to school. The easy to see colour and distinctive design sub-consciously tell all motorists to take extra care; just like the buzz of a bee heightens our awareness.

96) Regular  Public Holidays – How sensible are the Canadians – name a month and there is likely to be a public holiday in there somewhere. June looks a little bare, but 1st July is Canada day so not too long to wait for the next long weekend. January = New Years Day, February = Family  Day, March/April = Easter, May = Victoria Day, July = Canada Day, August = Civic holiday/August long weekend, September = Labour Day, October = Thanksgiving, November = Remembrance Day, December = Christmas.

97) Garage Sale Season – Spring sees the willing buds break through the hardened soil, flowers start their journey towards the light, buds spring forth from naked twigs and garage sale signs magically appear on strategic corners. As the days get longer and warmer, so the number of signs multiply until a carpet of cardboard messages tell the locals of bargains to be had, pre-loved treasures to be purchased and junk to be swapped from one garage to the next.  Tis a shame when the first signs of winter close the garage doors and the hues of haggling and banter of bartering fall silent for another season.

98) Christmas card scenery – Santa in a thick red suit , warm toque and sleigh seems more comfortable in a snow covered scene than battling sand, dust and scorching temperatures.  Songs about a white Christmas, I think, refer to the gentle covering of snow flakes more than the white shimmering heat of the southern hemisphere. Whilst it is not the true meaning of Christmas in future years we will miss the Christmas lights shining amidst the darkening, freezing  afternoon suggesting the excitement of the festive season.   

99) Decent size roads and parking spaces – Thankfully Canadian civil engineers had the foresight to design roads and car parks to match the titanic vehicles driven on Canadian roads. Apart from the West Edmonton Mall, that thinks we all drive Fiat Panda’s, I managed to park our Jeep without incident. I also felt comfortable not side swiping anyone on most roads. Unfortunately a little snow and three lanes suddenly become one, car parks become war zones and no matter how wide the roads the ditches are always too close for the sliding car.   

100)  Canadian accent – Not quiet lyrical but certainly a hint of melodious overtones, we will miss the now familiar pitch of the prairie tongue. Only occasionally did we require sub-titles but we sometimes even need those for the all too familiar, but vaguely forgotten, Australian drawl.

And saving until last the thing we are going to miss the most:

101) Canadians – We are going to miss being treated like Australian royalty. Always welcoming, warm, friendly and interested. Never is anything too much of a bother. If Nations are measured by the quality of their citizens, Canada would be competing for top spot. And the good news for us – the mountains, lakes, rivers, prairies, wildlife have to stay in Canada – our Canadian friends can come and visit us in Australia. 

Au Revoir Canada –
Thank you for such a memorable year.

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading your list... So much fun to see one's home reflected back through the eyes of a visitor. Reminds us again about what is special and precious in what we too often take for granted. Glad you enjoyed your stay in Canada! With luck, my family and I will be in Australia for an exchange 2013.