Spotted on recent trip through Canada: graffiti. The first line scrawled across an overpass was “Have a Good Day!” Can you believe that? The second message was “Forgive and Forget”. Imagine someone writing that in a public place. The third act of vandalism was “I <3 (Love) You” And that’s why I love Canada. It is a kinder, gentler place.
Now, I must add to my original blog post since two people were killed and several wounded in a shooting in Toronto on Monday, July 16. When I saw this on the news I was shocked in a way that shootings in the U.S. no longer shock me. This was CANADA for goodness sake. Sweet, kind Canada. At least, all of my experiences with my neighbors to the north (actually, to the east and south in some cases) have been positive, genteel and welcoming.
No, I am not Canadian, but I have always lived in states that border Canada: New York and Michigan. Many childhood vacations were spent in Gananoque, Ontario where we stayed in a rustic cottage with a “path to the bath” and a pump out front for water. Bliss. The owner of the cottages that perched along the northern shore of Lake Ontario also owned a dairy farm. He allowed us kids to climb up the haystack in his barn and slide down it. He taught us how to milk cows the old fashioned way and he took us on hayrides. I’m sure his days were busier than my child’s mind could imagine, but he always carved out time for us.
As an adult, I have had the pleasure of visiting the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario for the past 15 years. Originally, we stayed in the town of Shakespeare with Calvin and Darlene who opened part of their Century farm as a bed & breakfast. Warm and welcoming, we soon shared family photos and memories on each visit. After they discontinued the b&b, we started staying in Stratford at various other b&bs. Each one was wonderful as was each host.
I remember my first visit to what would become one of our favorite eating establishments, Trattoria Fabrizio, and noticing a sign that said “Tell us if you have food allergies”. Whoa! I have suffered with food allergies since I was 10 years old, and no other restaurant ever cared. See, it’s the little things. The owners of the restaurant were so accommodating and the food was delizioso! We never missed eating there during our visits until the owners retired and it closed.
The most direct route to visit family in upstate New York is through Canada. And I guess I have to say that, at the border, going into Canada is much easier than coming back into the United States. Yes, I know we have been on alert since 9/11. Yes, I know we have to check every car for terrorists. Yes, I know it is not easy to keep our country safe. I just wonder if we were kinder and gentler if it might not be such an issue.
Now, some of you may be thinking Canada is not perfect…who is? All I am saying is, Canada, I am smitten. I am smitten with your hospitality, your kindness, your cleanliness…oh, yeah, and once there was this blue-eyed guy from Sarnia…I was smitten with him, too. (Not any longer, my Sweet Baboo. I only have eyes for you)