The first time I saw Remembrance Day poppies

When I first moved to Canada, I was surprised by the red poppy pins worn around Remembrance Day. News anchors and politicians pinned them to their lapels, as did Vancouverites of all stripes. Walking down the street, I’d see scattered red dots coming toward me and smile to myself. Initially I attended Remembrance Day ceremonies, solemn, traditional, and patriotic, but in a low-key Canadian way. I listened to the vaguely familiar words of In Flanders Fields, a poem close to Canada’s heart and memorized by schoolchildren here. I liked the numerical elegance of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th … Continue reading The first time I saw Remembrance Day poppies

Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

The other day, I glanced at a billboard for Vancouver’s new “Residential Food Scraps Collection” service. Now, our yard trimmings bin can also include raw food scraps for citywide composting. The billboard listed a few examples, such as uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, tea bags, and coffee grounds? Coffee grounds? Shouldn’t that be coffee grinds? I wondered if this is another Canada-versus-America difference. Here, a parking lot is called a “parkade,” a garbage disposal is called a “garburator,” and the electric utility is called “hydro,” such as BC Hydro in British Columbia. My favorite is the Canadian “eh?” akin to … Continue reading Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

Olympic fever

I’ve lived mostly in balmy climates, from Hawaii to California, so winter sports are quite foreign to me. Luge? Biathlon? Curling? But I’ve also made Canada my home, and I’m riveted by the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The snowboarding and alpine skiing events blow my mind, the way they require utter fearlessness about big air and breakneck speed. I’m also waiting for a Canada-Russia showdown in men’s hockey, the Canadian national obsession and a sport that requires every athletic skill known to mankind. Sports competition is a fascinating display of mind-body control. Besides warfare and other life-or-death crises, few situations … Continue reading Olympic fever