Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time Travel As Winter Sputters

I was thinking that winter is finally yanking in the reins and while snow and cold hasn't let up I can see the start of a sputter.  And that sputter reminded me of a trip, a trip full of characters.  Yes, it's nostalgia time.  Hold back the sighs, darn it as we reel back a few years:

One thing that still holds true - The fun thing about travel is tripping on the unexpected, the unfamiliar and the best way to do that is meet the locals. That holds true anywhere.  No matter how short a distance you travel.

Footprints in the snow
A jaunt to Minneapolis in these days of ultra security makes a winter trip between two cold regions a challenge.    I'm used to packing much lighter but it's a trick to figuring out how to go lighter.  Boots, coats, mitts all take room and all need to be divested in security lines and stowed in tight plane seating.  Taking less is an option but winter storms are unpredictable.  By our 9:30 a.m. arrival in the U.S. it felt like evening, I was having serious empathy for parents with toddlers, although my ears were still ringing from the toddler who cried and screamed the entire flight.  That same little boy was now smiling sweetly a passenger or two ahead of me.

While I was writing this post I stumbled on an incident at a border crossing that only emphasized that some jobs may just be ideal for a writer.  Fiction often falls out of real life and at a border crossing there's no busier intersection of lives.  Click here for more.

But I digress, I finally made it through the immigration line - having as usual chosen the wrong line.  The slowest one with an immigration officer who bellowed angry orders to frustrated travelers at regular intervals.  When it was finally my turn, it was like I was facing a different man.  A man wearing a smile and with the parting words; "Have a good trip hon".

Hon?   Not a term you'll hear casually thrown out north of the U.S. border at least where I come from.  But soon it's also not the only time I hear hon.  I assume that this is part of the local lingo except I never hear the term again after leaving the airport.  Is it possible that the airport is a culture unto itself?  Or I just don't look like hon anymore?

It was before leaving the airport that we met a true lover of winter.  A woman at the shuttle desk told us how other travelers had questioned her sanity for remaining in such a cold climate.  Then she asked us how we liked Saskatchewan winter and then preceded to tell us about all her winter adventures in Minnesota from ice fishing to ski dooing.  She glowed as she told us about them.  I
A Farm in Minnesota
have to admit, I kind of admired her adventurous winter spirit for despite my place of origin, winter just isn't my thing.  Since leaving my toboggan days as a child, those chilly little flakes haven't held much appeal.  I mean snow is pretty, for about twenty-four hours or until you get stuck driving your car to the local convenience, take your pick.  On the upside, as my mother says, it keeps crime down - why? see, I knew you'd bite - too cold to go outside and all the criminals stay indoors.  That's her
theory.  I believe she's also been known to say that it keeps tempers at a minimum - no one's blood can heat up in sub zero temperatures.  And if you believe that I'll give you a hotline to more Momisms.

We're in Laura Ingalls Wilder territory now at least during her time On the Banks of Plum Creek - from  Little House on the Prairie fame and not the Michael Landon TV version, for those of you who didn't devour the original series as children.  Laura really had a knack of making winter look romantic.  Sorry Laura, not even for you.

So fast forward to the hotel where there's a shuttle to the Mall of America.  But from my hotel window I could see Macy's, an anchor store, across the parking lot.  Now I'm puzzled, why the need for a shuttle except maybe for the old or infirm. So we inquire about bus times and mall access, thinking that one might have to walk around the gigantic structure to enter and thus the necessity for a shuttle.  And when hearing that's not the case inquire if there was an undetected reason for us using the shuttle. "No, ma'am (another term not much heard north of the border), it depends where you come from and what kind of cold you're used to.  Some of our guests take the shuttle because it's too cold or to bring their shopping back," he replied in his easy southern drawl.  I bit back my questions that begin with where he might be from as there was no hint of Minnesota in that accent and assured him that we would walk across the parking lot.

But it was on our departure from that hotel when things got interesting.  A conversation began with the inevitable question, "Where are you from?"  This time there was no need to tag Canada to the long enough already Saskatchewan.  This time I heard for the first time; "Oh, I've been there."  But it was his next comment that really made the conversation interesting,  "Drove from Regina to Saskatoon - expected to see more road kill.  I was surprised I didn't see any at all.  Was it the wrong time of year?

Rewind - what?  Road kill?

For a moment I was at a loss.  For one, I'm a city girl and for two, I'm an animal lover.  Road kill just isn't in my reality.  But a comment like that definitely had to be explored.  So here's the scoop:

According to this local hotel manager, the roads of Minnesota are littered with dead animals in hunting season.  Not shot but run over, and lots of them.  I think he expected, because Saskatchewan is less populated and a similar prairie landscape, that we'd have the same or more.  I assured him that even in hunting season there wasn't a lot of road kill.  And it usually takes a much longer trip to see wild life of any kind - usually live.  A coyote or two, some antelope or deer - all still breathing and usually loping in the distant fields, and maybe as far as road kill, on a busy day, a lone squashed skunk or deer was about all you were going to see and often, thank goodness, not even that.   So after a discussion about live versus squashed viewing, we went on our separate ways.
Winter Highway, Saskatchewan

Somehow I don't think road kill is going to make it to the list of things to see and do in either Minnesota or Saskatchewan.  Although I should never say never.  And for those of you with a more macabre bent or a slightly twisted sense of humour, check out Road Kill Recipes.

The world is a big place and it's littered with interesting characters.

Any characters in your recent travels both near and afar?  Or do you have another take on road kill?  And please, not another recipe. 



Murees Dupé said...

Hey, I just awarded you the Liebster Award on my blog.

Ryshia Kennie said...

Hi Murees - thanks for the award - and I've ventured forth and awarded eleven more!!