Yes, I admit finding seven things I love about Canada is a pretty wimpy excuse for a blog. It’s a bit like listing the seven things I love about babies or puppies. After all, who doesn’t love Canada? The country gave us Michael Bublé, for goodness sakes, and Michael J. Fox and Trivial Pursuit. The people are lovely and it doesn’t even seem to be a strain for them, they’re just honestly nice. Even the border crossing guy wanted to be annoyed at my stupid reply to his question about carrying $10,000 dollars or more—that I wish I had that much cash to carry–but he couldn’t keep it up and he sent us off finally with a friendly warning about the bears around Jasper and a “Have a nice trip, Eh.” But we have 4,000 miles of Canada behind us and some of those miles got stuck in our happy place. Some of the images wiggled deep into my bucket of Zen.
Seven of them to be precise.
1) Can I get a Gosh, please? I could in Canada. Lots of them. There was the gal at the Husky gas station in Edmonton who gave me a dragged out “Gosh” when she couldn’t come up with directions to the Glowing Embers RV Park, our planned stop for the night. There was the waitress in Watson Lake who couldn’t take our debit card because their machine was down. And there was the desk manager at our Fort St John hotel, who was stuck between his boss and a hard place when we showed up with both dogs and a wheelchair, a combination his hotel chain didn’t allow. It’s hard to argue with “Gosh”, it’s just so charming of a word. It’s a Mayberry sounding word, as if Canada got caught in an unpretentious time warp. Gosh, I like it. But it’s no match for a woman on a mission and I got our room.
2) Family Restrooms. In Weyburn, our first night’s stay, we found a family restroom both at Boston Pizza and our hotel’s lobby. In keeping with their tolerant nature, Canadians have a national accessibility policy that’s more of a suggestion than a law, but they aim to please and family restrooms go a long way toward making me happy when I’m traveling with my wheelchair-bound husband. Here’s a hint for the more remote hotels though—calling a room accessible takes more than simply booking us on the ground floor. We sort of want to get his wheelchair through the narrow doorway too and get him INTO the room.
3) Mellow Fields of Yellow. We thought it was clover, great fields of it lining the highways through Alberta and Saskatchewan, but that was crazy talk. Lo and behold, it was canola, a crop which, according to the Government of Saskatchewan website, didn’t even exist 30 years ago. I’d say it’s taken off nicely.
4) Kilometers. Ask me if 27 degrees Centigrade is hot. Ask any U.S. American if 27 degrees is hot. The answer is, we don’t know and we don’t care, because we’re never going to learn the metric system. Except when it comes to highway distances. Somehow 100 kilometers magically comes out roughly the distance you’ll drive in an hour at a 60 mph speed limit. And since that’s the safe and legal speed on many Canadian highways, for once the metric system makes sense. A town is 300 kilometers away? Just drop the last two digits and I know I’ll be there in three hours. A 700 kilometer driving day? Seven hours. When a nation makes math easier for me, I bow to their wiser thinking.
5) Midnight Twilight. Sure, you have to go pretty far north to watch the light die away while the clock ticks into tomorrow, but summer in the Yukon isn’t made for sleeping. Who wouldn’t want a vacation day that just won’t end?
6) Bears. My first glimpse of something roundish and black on the hillside came and went so quickly that I wasn’t even sure of what I’d seen. Maybe it was a boulder, maybe it wasn’t, but I was convinced I’d missed my one chance to see a bear. Oh, me of little faith. Soon bears were ambling into culverts. Eating berries at the forest’s edge. Loping out into traffic. Apparently bears are to British Columbia as squirrels are to urban parks, and I became less afraid of missing a sighting and more concerned about missing the bears. Of course that didn’t stop me from taking their picture every chance I got.
7) Water, Water Everywhere. Ducks paddle in it just off the highway. Prairie flowers drink from it. Rivers rage with it. This is the same fluid we take in and out of our bodies every day, a fact that should remove any mystic illusions we might have about the stuff. It’s H2O, for gosh sakes, just one oxygen and a couple of hydrogen atoms that buddied up. But in Canada? When the light is right? If you ever doubt God’s existence, simply gaze on the emerald goodness He has given us and know that He is love.