By Bill Montague





As a proud Canadian, I have had the privilege of visiting our great neighbour to the south a number of times. Our friend, our defender, and the one who buys our gas cheaper than we can, and we Canadians being the business people we are, promptly buy it back at what, most of our political leaders think is a " fair mark up ". This must be why I drive like a madman, to hit the border in Detroit, and sucking fumes from my tank ask the attendant behind sixteen inches of bullet proof glass, to fill it up with Canada's finest.

I have a friend that lived here, married a girl from Florida, and moved down there. It seems that he has become "Americanized" since he has made the journey to the land of sunshine. He speaks slower, walks slower, and thinks that 78 degrees in January is a new seasonal low. This despite the fact that he came from the north, like me and January average is - 30.

We do get a lot of snow here in comparison to Florida, some three to four feet every winter. But I guess I have to offset that with him getting hurricane winds that take his house into a different zip code. He lives in Cape Coral, but apparently pays taxes in two counties now.

I have another friend that spends three months of the year down there, and then two months, learning not to say "y'all "when he is speaking to anyone. I guess however, the Floridians he sees there probably get tired of him throwing " eh " at the end of ever sentence. At least y'all has some kind of meaning.

I must admit that every time I go south, I am impressed by the patriotic scenes that I see there. Flags on every house, banners supporting your politicians, it is very nice to see. I know that 4th of July, is one of the biggest holidays, and patriotism blossoms. On the other hand our idea of patriotic on July 1, which is Canada Day, comparable to July 4, is to see how many empty bottles of Molson Canadian beer we can strew across our front yards. I suppose it evens out because the bottle has a maple leaf on it.

I certainly cannot say enough about traveling through the south, where else can a person have, grits, with everything including a whiskey and water? Now I can get the same thing here I suppose but it involves cutting down a perfectly healthy tree, and scooping the shavings into a bowl, adding water or sour milk perhaps, and advising everyone, that " it is an acquired taste.

As Canadians we have what are called the snowbirds. Thousands of people, that flock south as soon as our weather man says the word snow, or frost, or even cold for that matter. They flood over any border that is open, armed with coloured shirts, white socks, and shorts that drag on the ground. Peering over the steering wheels, and racing at forty five miles an hour, they manage the trip to Georgia, Florida, or perhaps South Carolina, in a magical five days, and then proceed to pull out their lawn chairs and sit, in essentially one spot until, late march or early April, and then take the five day trip home again, to see if their home is still standing. I never fully understood this migration, from the yes very cold north, to a place where they brave, tornados, hurricanes, floods, and areas where the ground moves under your feet on a regular basis, and then back home to tell their unfortunate friends that were not able to make the trip, of the great view they had of their neighbours trailer as it flew by their window.

There is something to be said for sports in both of our fair countries. I guess I have to start with football, there are some obvious differences between Canadian and American football. In Canadian ball, the ball we use is actually bigger, making it easier I assume to catch than the mini sized American ball. American ball players however get one extra down, or try if you like. I guess this is to make up for the fact that the ball is smaller and harder to grab onto.

And who can mention sports and not speak of hockey. Canadians of all ages, from young to old, wait for that tune on the television on Saturday night that is more widely known than our own national anthem. It's Hockey Night in Canada blasts into our living rooms. As the music starts and we settle down for two hours of on ice entertainment, we think as proud Canadians, that as far as hockey goes in the U.S. of A, you play great basketball. And there is a game which as Canadians, we do not quite comprehend, a sport that is so widely followed south of the border, yet seems to be made up of only three minutes of actual play. It is the only sport that a team can be loosing, 98 to 6, with 4 minutes left, and end up winning in a miraculous come back. It does however have great cheer leaders, perhaps they should cheer more, and play only four quarters of ball, five minutes each in length. This might make it more sensible to us in Canada.

It seems very strange that, in Canada, we have all of these wide open spaces, the trees, land, vast areas of green, the sanctuary of nature is at our front door. But every year, Canadians travel south to see, desert, and sand. However, on the other hand, Americans travel hundreds of miles to see a tree, and some rocks, and think that it is a miracle of nature. It does amuse me though to see you as Americans travel north in July, with skis fixed on the top of your cars, wanting to know where the best skiing is. I generally reply, turn left, and drive about 1400 miles, and you should be just about in the right place, give or take five months.

There is of course the spelling issue that we have to address. I am certain that given enough time, and the proper teaching, you as Americans, might be convinced that honor, and of course neighbor, should have the u in them. But it has been hundreds of years, and the lesson seems to be falling on deaf ears. So I guess we as your neighbours, should honour your customs, and let it drop.

I guess that the differences are in point of fact, not that great. Wait a minute who am I trying to kid here? In America, you have the right to bear arms, which is a constitutional right, in Canada however, we have the right to bare breasts, now part of our constitution. I guess I made the right choice after all.

(C)opyright 2007 Bill Montague All Rights Reserved

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