Once Upon a Time I drove into Canada on the Friday before Canada Day. If you, like me, are unaware of the significance of the holiday, it is like the 4th of July; except with a fanaticism that most Americans haven’t had for the 4th since about 1776. At the time all I knew for certain was that every vehicle in Canada was on the highway, Walmart was closed and it looked like Toronto was being evacuated. Police cars were parked along highways and searching cars randomly, and they threatened to confiscate Dear Hubby’ s radar detector for the Queen. This was fine by me. I have detested the thing for years and often fantasized about cutting its cord during long car trips. At the time though, my first thought was, Canada has a Queen? I didn’t know Canada had a Queen. So let me help you out here, if you didn’t already know these things.
· They use UK’s Queen and she wants your radar detector if you take it to Canada.
· Canada Day is July 1st, travel at your own risk, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
There is much to be gleaned from slogging your way deep into the Canadian Wilderness. Some people go to fish and boat and commune with the great outdoors. Some people go to hide beneath their mosquito netting and write 5,000 words a day. The latter people come out at night to feed the mosquitoes, and hang out at campfires with Canadians who spend about half the year living in the middle of nowhere. These people are excellent fodder for The Glitter Globe.
For almost a decade I have been skulking around these folks for inspiration and they have yet to fail me. At first I observed from a distance. Once I saw them chipmunk fishing, don’t worry, they didn’t use hooks. It was very humane, a bag of peanuts and a fishing pole. How did they get the chipmunks to stick? Apparently those critters really want peanuts, they didn’t care if they were being reeled in, and if they lost their grip on said peanut they raced after it again.
One of my personal favorite stories is the squirrels with the painted tails story, as told to me by Trey*. Seems squirrels were invading a cabin and the owner couldn’t bear the thought of harming the creatures, so live traps were used and the squirrels were then taken off the island. Now Trey had a sneaking suspicion about the effectiveness of this plan, and fetched a can of spray paint and painted one of the little fellow’s tails blue. Then he took the guy “for a ride” as we like to say in the States. After returning to camp, another squirrel had been captured, so he painted that guy’s tail too, and headed deeper into the wilderness to locate a new home for him. Passing over a footbridge off the island, Trey passed a squirrel racing towards him. You know it; the dude had a blue tail.
These are the kind of stories shared during a Canada Day campfire and I’m not even going to get into the floor show. Okay, I will say this much, when human beings spend inordinate amounts of time entertaining themselves, creativity takes a turn. I came prepared with an American campfire tradition and they gave a passing nod to the brilliance of making ‘Smores with peanut butter cups instead of chocolate bars, eh. Right on, American, not bad. Then they tossed some old pine branches on the fire. Whoosh, the flames shot up into the 50’ pine trees towards the starry-starry night sky, and I made a mental note to never have a live Christmas tree again as long as I may live. Then they broke out the bacon.
That’s right. These people who spend half the year living deep in the bush don’t have the lowly hotdog for their campfires. They passed around large containers of bacon marinated in maple syrup. It had been cooked ahead of time and they ate it cold. *Insert macho grunt here* Then out came the homemade cookies. Cut out sugar cookies shaped like a maple leaf – iced and with sparkly sprinkles. I don’t even do cut-out cookies for Christmas. The only similarity I saw in the Canadian campfires and the ones I’ve attended back in the USA is sweatshirts. The day after a campfire you find a variety of sweatshirts that nobody will claim. These unclaimed sweatshirts make up half my wardrobe, the other half being free T-Shirts I gather at engineering conferences. Bet you didn’t know that, bet you thought I went to MIT, eh?
*Name changed to protect Clay from being identified by Blog reading blue-tailed squirrels.