Warming up

Posted on October 16, 2012


Canada was built on dead beavers.  – Margaret Atwood

First, apologies for the break in blogging.   I was enjoying the second half of my trip through the Canadian Maritimes without a ‘world’ book in sight.   I did however, thanks to the hundreds of second-hand bookshops (they called them used books here – one wonders what they have been used for) read a lot of Canadian crime fiction, and it’s heart-warming to know that the Canadian crime writers’ minds are every bit as twisted as everywhere else.  I had worried that a Nova Scotian’s idea of mortal sin might be – queue jumping, not having a flag in your garden (everyone has a flag – sometimes three), not liking ‘home fries’ … with ever-ree-thing.    Although I have to admit that there comes a point when not getting ‘fries’ feels like being short-changed.


Things I learnt in Atlantic Canada

  1. Cape Bretonians love tartan.
  2. There are more lighthouses than bars and more churches than lighthouses.
  3. Maude Lewis was a beautiful soul and a great artist.
  4. There is a place called Pugwash[1]
  5. Acadians have stars fixed to their houses.
  6. Nowhere sells ‘house stars’ not even Walmart which sells everything (inc. red flannel all in one underwear see point 10 below). There must be some secret factory that only Acadians know about.   It is now my life’s work to find it.
  7. It is also my life’s work never to go into Walmart again. Life is simply too short to have to make a choice between 273 varieties of potato crisp.[2]
  8. Chips with gravy and cheese are good.[3]
  9. Nova Scotians make wine – good wine.
  10. Maritimers make coffee – bad coffee.
  11. Coffee comes in an endless stream from (usually) a woman (well a Pyrex pot that the woman is holding) with an apron, pencil behind her ear calling you any or all of the following – dear, love, darling – while asking you if you need warming up.  Wish they’d been around at 3 a.m. when the camper got so cold we’d have agreed to being warmed up by a moose with halitosis and a not inconsiderable case of mange.
  12. Camper vans get cold – even when it’s really hot during the day – especially when it’s really hot during the day.
  13. Moose are cute. They look like bashful starlets insisting that they really never thought of themselves as a sex symbol but thanks for saying so.
  14. Chad looks very sexy in red flannel combinations with a back flap – bought from Walmart because camper vans get cold don’t you know.
  15. After four days in the same clothes you don’t notice the smell.
  16. You can’t help but notice the whiff of skunks.  You can’t imagine how badly skunks smell until you smell one that’s just been run over. Even carrion crows won’t go near them.

Anyway, I’m now back at home, at work and at read as it were.  I’ve just finished The Circle of Karma by Bhutanese novelist Kunzang Choden, which I’ll review very soon once I’ve warmed up the writing muscles, and I’ve started Altiplano Express by Bolivian crime writer Juan de Recacoechea.

[1] Only of interest to those who watched Captain Pugwash as a kid.

[2] Or chips if you’re North American.

[3] Or fries if you’re North American.