I saw a bald eagle yesterday. What a shock! Not because it was quietly gliding through the air without the piercing shriek I have always heard in the wildlife films. Not even because I was standing in an urban car park rather than some rugged mountaintop covered with snow. What really surprised me was that the big guy was in Canada! Aren’t bald eagles supposed to live in the US? I thought it was their national bird. And it’s on the Presidential Seal! Then it slowly dawns on me that maybe lines on maps don’t mean much to a powerful hunter with a two metre wingspan. It sort of gets me wondering, what if that border wasn’t there?
I’ve heard that there have been various suggestions dating back to Thomas Jefferson that Canada and the US should merge. Personally, I reckon getting Americans to swear allegiance to the Queen would be really challenging. And there must be heaps of other hurdles too. Well, granted the Canadians already drive on the wrong side of the road, and their dosh is made up of nickels, dimes and quarters, but there’s, there’s – the language! Yes, the language! Canadians end most sentences with “eh?” as in “it’s cold eh?” or my favourite, “it’s raining eh?” And they signify agreement with a “ya” as in “the rain’s cold eh?” “ya.” Ok, so people in Minnesota say much the same thing, but you get my point.
Anyway, I must admit there are times when I get a little confused about which country I’m in. Take today for instance. Kirsty is out visiting, so Nanette and I are off on a little adventure to “downtown.” We emerge from the underground skytrain station (go figure) and make our way to the beautiful windswept waterfront of Canada Place. There’s a booth selling tickets to the new “Fly over Canada” attraction. Now, you may know that I get vertigo wearing thick socks, but the guy assures us it is “a totally safe five story high virtual experience.” And, the two-for-one show includes “Fly over the US” for free!
We emerge from the show a little wobbly, but exhilarated. We’ve flown over mountains and down valleys, and surprisingly zoomed across Niagara Falls in both films – well, they both claim it, don’t they. Time to find a coffee shop and recover. Hey, what’s that crowd in the urban square opposite? A no-nonsense looking lady on a podium topped with American flags is about to give a speech, and is besieged by a crowd of high-powered reporters. We sidle up to the edge of the crowd. “Sorry, if your not part of the filming you’ll need to keep back.” Apparently, they’re filming a pilot for a new show and this little bit of Vancouver is temporarily downtown Washington DC. If the eagle could see this, he’d laugh.