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Canada: My Picture Perfect Memories Growing Up Canadian
Let me introduce myself
I’ll be honest: I am Canadian, and I cannot help but love my country. I was born and raised in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I have lived outside of Canada, but Canada will always be my home.
Travel Guides: Alberta, Canada
My summer playground
Growing up, I lived only a stone’s throw away from the Rocky Mountains. The summers were short as we lived at a higher altitude, but they were sunny and hot. The spring brought blossoms of delicate crocus, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The trees wore delicate new green buds and the birds would arrive with the first signs of melting snow. It never took long before the blanket of old snow was replaced with the bright green shoots of grass that turned into a soft blanket for picnics, rolling down hills and lounging around under the warmth of bright sunshine.
The air was crisp, clean and clear. It wasn’t unusual for me to go and hike in the mountains, only to arrive home exhausted from the fresh mountain air. It wasn’t from the exercising or excitement, it was from all the clean oxygen my body had received throughout the day.
If I wasn’t exploring the mountains, I was out in the foothills, riding my horse and exploring the hills. Many seasons I spent riding out in the breeze, stopping to graze my horse whilst I sat on a log enjoying my picnic. I remember, of all things, the smell of the grains from the farm fields that surrounded us. The wheat would blow gently in the wind, swaying this way and that. The barley would sound like shakers in the breeze. Birds loved to land on the stalks and pick at the grains. Along the waterways were thousands of cat tails growing tall, reaching for the sky. At night, you could hear the frogs chirping all night long. Calling to each other and announcing their presence in the night world.
Being somewhat landlocked, I didn’t grow up with many lakes, but there were a few wonderful ones to fish from. The lakes were clear and the water ice cold. I caught northern pike and yellow perch, sometimes rainbow trout. I enjoyed the fishing, but mostly I enjoyed laying back on the beach and watching the birds fly overhead. One fall, I began fishing early in the morning and stayed out until late evening. I couldn’t tear myself away because I was having a fantastic day fishing – I managed a personal record that day and it didn’t appear that my luck was going to run out any time soon. I believed then, and even today, that my luck was due to the migrating bald eagles above me. Taking breaks, I would sit back on a log and watch the sky above me. One after another, migrating eagles flew over me. They were flying low enough that I could see their bald heads. It was an unusual sight and I had begun counting after the sixth eagle flew past. By night fall, I had counted 37. Sadly, I have never experienced this again.
We had a garden in our backyard, which fed us fresh vegetables throughout the summer. I remember pulling carrots out of the dirt, brushing them off and eating them. Oh, they were so fresh, sweet and crisp with a mouthful of flavour! My grandmother always grew sugar peas and snap peas. She never knew, or rather not let on that she knew, why the harvests were always so small. She always claimed it was the rabbits or deer coming to munch, but between you and me, the peas were my favourite fresh garden snack.
Some summers, I spent in the OkanoganValley on the beaches of OkanoganLake. I could also be found in the fruit orchards, lending my skills as the official fruit tester ensuring the crop was ripe with sweetness. Many times, I took fresh apples or pears and fed them to horses that I had borrowed from friends. Those horses loved me, and always greeted me with knickers and bobbing of their heads. Away from my horse buddies, I spent time on the lake in my Uncle’s speed boat. I can laugh about it now, but it was a fight for him to put me on his boats. I always refused, but my attitude had a lot to do with nearly drowning in that lake. However, once sitting in the boat and speeding along, I enjoyed each moment of the rides.
I loved the mountains, but I also loved the west coast. I travelled there often during the seasons and enjoyed the beaches, shopping and fresh seafood. The gardens and parks are beautiful, and to jog through StanleyPark was exhilarating.
Beating cabin fever during the winters
Summers were always too short, or so it felt. The leaves turned yellow and bright reds and flaming orange. Too soon, autumn would arrive and its blowing winds would chase the warmth away and bring a chill to announce the onset of winter. Winter was long but the key was to get out in the cold and snow and enjoy the outdoors.
Like all Canadians, I grew up playing street hockey with the neighbourhood kids with the exception of Saturday nights. Saturday nights were reserved for Hockey Night in Canada and Peter Puck. I knew the hockey stats forwards and backwards, every player on each team and I could predict with fairly good accuracy who would win that season’s Stanley Cup.
Hockey is but only one winter sport. I still travelled to my beloved mountains, but instead of hiking, I skied downhill and skated on the lakes. I drove across frozen lakes and parked so that I could ice fish. During the evenings, I would walk outside as large individual flakes of snow fluttered down from the star studded night sky. Many of these beautiful flakes were caught on my eagerly waiting tongue and melted into cool droplets of water. I had friends who would climb frozen waterfalls. I didn’t do that, but I hiked across glaciers before they began to melt. It was an experience as the sun shone hot above and the coldness seeps up along your legs from the frozen glacier. I had dreamed of watching polar bears, but was never fortunate enough to come across them. Perhaps, one day in the future I will.
The beauty of Canada cannot be justified with words. Photos can capture some of the beauty, but the true beauty comes forth when you are here. Imagine sitting under a night sky, wrapped in a light blanket, thousands of stars twinkling in the dark sky. There’s a light crisp breeze signalling the beginning of autumn while scents of juniper and cedar waft through the air. The wait isn’t long before Mother Nature puts on a dazzling display of the Northern Lights. The ribbons of color paint the sky and dance to her tune. It is beauty in motion. It is incredible.
My life as a Canadian growing up, and living in this country, has given me an opportunity to experience life in such a way that it has nourished my spirit, opened my mind, solidified my inner core and taught me how to be accepting, respectful, tolerant, peaceful and kind. My life, then and now, is bountiful with the many gifts that the land and people provide to each other. I am proud to be Canadian.
© May 2, 2010