In many ways, I am your typical Canadian and in other ways, I am a definite anomaly. At the heart of it, I love being a Canadian, it’s just that I wish I was born as a native Hawaiian, but mostly so that I could live there for at least the snowiest, coldest parts of the year (a.k.a. seven out of twelve months) without having to play the Visa/Green Card game. But, I digress as the thought of warm, island living leads me astray. In part one of this blogpost, let me begin by discussing the many great examples of how our uncomplicated, red and white flag runs through my blood.
Friendly phrases. For starters, as most people might suspect, I am known to frequently use the Canadiana phrases, “Sorry” and “Eh?” A LOT. I really don’t mind being associated with those sayings, however. I’d rather say sorry in excess as opposed to being rude or thoughtless. While I understand that “… eh?” can be annoying to listen to repeatedly, it boils down to an innocent way of turning a statement into a half-question of sorts; often a friendly ask or prodding of affirmation of one’s thoughts. For example, “It sure is nice outside today, eh?” is a means of including another person into the ‘in-your-head’ conversation that we all have. Being as friendly in nature as we tend to be, we are usually agreeable in answer to such a question and it makes for a feel good situation all around. In my book, there’s nothing wrong with being extra polite and affirmative in nature, so I’ll gladly take any digs that come with the territory in return.
Accents? Apparently, as a true north Canadian, I possess a familiar type of accent which makes me easily recognizable in my travels. Of course, I find that comment nothing short of amusing since I think I sound as normal of an English speaker as there is (if there is such a thing) and it is others from elsewhere whom I perceive as having a notable accent. Now, in truth, everyone around the globe likely thinks the very same about themselves. Nonetheless, I thought it was worth a brief mention. If I could *choose* a particular accent to have, it would definitely be a South African accent because of its rich, distinctive sound. In my eyes and to my ears, my native accent isn’t really an accent at all—just a slower form of speech from what I can make of it, eh?
The weather. Hmm. I’m definitely guilty of complaining about it ALL the time, as we are known to do living in such proximity to the North Pole. No word of a lie that extreme temperature fluctuations and our four seasons can rear themselves all within a day’s length—changing by the minute more accurately. In my lifetime, I’ve seen many a gorgeous, sunny plus thirty degree Celsius day drop to below freezing and snow before my very eyes. As a result, you don’t ever leave home without a winter weather kit at the ready regardless of what month it is. Unlike the weather which is NEVER static here, our attitudes about it are in the sense that we are never happy. If it is hot outside, it’s too hot; if it’s minus fifty degrees (which should be against the laws of Mother Nature), it is clearly way too cold despite bragging rights in surviving such frigid temperatures. Separate from bellyaching about the outrageous changes on the thermometer here, the sun and the wind remain definite points of contention. Either it’s not sunny enough or if the sun is out, it is a scorcher and we run for the shade. Go figure. No wonder the giant Star hides itself from us often; it knows it can’t win! And, the wind?! Well, it always seems to be blowing fiercely in these parts, so even if the weather itself is temperate, the 30-50 km/hr gusts give us something worthwhile to complain about.
Outrageous clothing combinations. Yup! In addition to being super casual dressers as a whole in Canada (yoga pants are considered a step up from holey sweatpants), it’s true that we’ve been known to wear some pretty ‘interesting’ outfits. Most notably is the donning of winter boots, shorts and a hoody or vice versa with respect to sporting open-toed sandals and a winter coat simultaneously. While both looks are as hideous as they sound, and we generally know it, they do suit many an occasion here. I personally don’t mind being critiqued for my lack of fashion sense since I can get away with blaming our crazy weather for my clothing indiscretions. Despite many of us looking the same, certain statement pieces still garner attention even amongst ourselves—maybe not the right kind, but at least we are steadfast with our otherwise questionable choices. How many people can say that?! Last, but not least on the clothing front, we northerners are easily spotted in warm destinations as being the only people around with shorts and t-shirts on when domestic folk are heavily clad in woollen sweaters and knitted toques. What is considered a cold climate to others is often a welcome change for us. So yeah, we are indeed the kooky ones on the beach who think it’s summer even when it’s not.
Camping outdoors. We are the second largest country land-wise and we are home to some pretty amazing landscapes. Our enticing, wide open spaces are noticed immediately by foreigners. Given such, we Canadians like to take advantage of being outside whenever we can since much of our time is spent stuck inside during the ubiquitous winter months. As a result, camping and cottage life is highly coveted by many of us. Even if the forecast is iffy, and by iffy I do mean close to freezing temps and snow, we are pretty committed to claiming our stake, be it in the woods or in amongst the all-mighty, breath-taking Rocky Mountains. In case you’ve never camped out before, it is not for the faint of heart or for those who are afraid of a little hard work and we, as a people, are generally proud of our efforts to be one with nature. Once, someone commented to my husband how silly it seems that we all spend days packing and preparing for a mere couple of days away, which often consists of being parked in a campground lot situated right next to others. That is, unless you choose to backcountry it which some diehards do. The fellow questioned, “How that type of trip is a getaway?” and “Why we would want to go through all that trouble just to have neighbours close by as one would if they were in the city?” For individuals like us, however, camping really means grabbing onto a slice of the elusive pie, so to speak in both mind and spirit. Truth be told, we aren’t camping at all. Really, we are glamping (glamour camping) with all of our high-tech campers and ‘toys’—stoves, TV’s, microwaves, fireplaces, Keurig machines, etc. BUT, the important thing to note here is that we are doing so out in nature which technically qualifies us as being the rough, tough and outdoorsy namesakes of our great country. While I can certainly see the validity of the commenter’s points to my husband, it doesn’t change our resolve to head out for the weekend as often as we can. Time with family and friends often being the driving force, so no Canadian apologies necessary in this category.
After sharing some insights as to how I resemble my Canadiana compadres, there are a few differences between myself and my kinfolk which are quite profound. Tune in tomorrow to hear about the more controversial side of things wherein my allegiances stray greatly from the norm. You won’t be disappointed and if you are, I will say sorry in true Canadian fashion. 😉