Thursday, July 09, 2009

God Bless America

I remember that first night in our new house on Talca Avenue. We had boxes piled up all around us and it was a warm evening. The Elders quorum left and we all just sat around on the floor and on what few chairs we had and relaxed. It felt good to be here and we were all exhausted. It was so calming to sit there with the doors open and relax in the gentle breeze that floated through the house.

Over the next few weeks as I acclimatized to my new environment there were two or three things that clearly stood out as being very different from what I was used to. The biggest difference was probably that there was a major grocery store and a major pharmacy a mere three minutes from my house and they were both open until well after midnight. In many ways this was a curse more than a blessing. We would be sitting watching a movie and Lisa would get a craving for something and off I would go to buy some ice cream or perhaps a chocolate bar or something else. At least in Rosemary if she wanted to buy something like that Harry's was closed around 6:00 and it took an hour to get to Brooks and back. I don't know of any stores in Brooks that were open after midnight.

The other big difference was the weather. It was always beautiful weather. The highs in the winter were in the 60's and 70's and the highs in the summer were in the 70's and 80's. There was never any wind and rarely any rain. We moved in July and I didn't see my first raindrop until November. I remember driving to work one day listening to the radio. They were announcing storm warnings and I was a bit excited to have a storm. (I know, we wish for some pretty strange things when we don't have them anymore) It took me a few minutes to figure out that they were talking about the weather I was driving through. My wipers were on intermittent and there was no wind that I could detect but THAT was their storm. I was flabbergasted. To be fair though, when there hasn't been any rain for a long time the oils from the cars and in the road come to the surface and then when it does rain the water puddles on the oil and the roads are very slippery. Nothing like a good snow storm but much more slippery than you would expect. I about wet my pants a time or two when I wasn't careful.

Another big change was the beach. I believe it was only our second day here when Brenda Knowlton called up and invited our kids to go the beach with her family. That was the beginning of a new and wonderful love affair. I love the beach, I love to hear the surf breaking, I love to walk in the sand, I love the sunsets and on a hot day there is nothing like kicking into a wave and feeling the power of the wave throw me forward on my body board.

Finally I was amazed with the language barrier. We started a list of all the words that are different here than in Canada. I wish I had that list still but it grew to at least a hundred words. I can't think of them all off the top of my head but I will list some here.

caty corner
mauve (they pronounce it maw'v)
eh, ( of course)
thongs (my kids about die if I talk about wearing my thongs)
pop (soda)
grades in school, ie. grade ten as compared to tenth grade
Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior
zee vs zed
Candian bacon
boxing day
holiday (synonymous with vacation)
Robertson screwdrivers

Over the years there are many other things I have come to love about California but these were some of my original impressions. I guess the reality that I was now living in a foreign land first hit me when Brandon and Ben went to their first cub scout meeting. Before the meeting started everyone put their hand over their hearts, turned to the flag and recited the pledge of allegiance. It was very strange to me in many ways. First of all it was the stars and stripes and no longer the maple leaf. It was red, white and blue and not red and white. Finally it felt very strange and almost wrong to pledge allegiance to anything other than Canada. As I looked around me and saw how patriotic everyone around me was I decided then and there that this was my new country and if was going to live here then I too was going to pledge my allegiance to this wonderful country. Ever since that day I have sincerely and willingly pledged my allegiance to this great land. No where in the world can a human being have greater freedoms and more opportunities to pursue their goals than they do in this wonderful land. God bless America!


Lynn said...

"Thongs" is a generational thing. Not a language difference. You can't say "thong" here either unless you want to be talking about your underwear.
Make sure you say, "Flip flops." : D

Fred ... said...

I suppose you're right but I'd never heard the word "flip flop" until I moved to the states.

Kim said...

And in NZ it's neither. My kids wear jandals. :) Once again, I enjoyed your piece, Fred.

Peter and Mandy said...

I believe you also thought it was strange to be getting ready for Halloween when you hadn't celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving yet.

Justin, Kira and Evan said...