Summer has barrelled into Saskatchewan, rudely sweeping a tentative Spring out of the way, and suddenly we’re living in a world of sun-block, shorts, t-shirts, barbecues and lots and lots of sunshine. Everywhere is green again, and the parks are heaving every evening with people playing football, soccer, baseball and basketball. The kids are going to school on their skates, bikes, skateboards and scooters, and we’re awaiting the arrival of the dreaded mosquitoes. I discovered yesterday that ticks are also endemic here, but I’ve decided not to think about that.
We have new neighbours from Ireland; Gerry and Connie moved over from Cork and are living a few doors down from us with their dog Rocky. Gerry is from Tipperary and Connie is from Cork, so poor Jo Ann had to deal with yet another set of Irish accents. Janet, who lives next door to us, cornered me the other day to say that Connie had stopped for a quick chat the other evening; Janet was flapping because she couldn’t understand a single word Connie said. “It’s ok”, I reassured her, “she’s from Cork. You’ll get used to it after a couple of years.” Connie and I sat chatting at the kitchen table the other night till midnight, and then I waved her off at the door. Off she went down the path towards her house, and when she got there, she realised that Gerry had locked the front door. “Blithering eejit”, she thought, and rang the bell. Nothing. She knocked at the door. Nothing. Rang the bell again. Silence. So she let out a roar up at the window – “GERRY!” – and waited. She noticed movement at the round window of the bathroom that’s at the front of the house. A head popped up, looking apprehensive, and after a moment of bemusement, she realised that it was Jim, her next-door neighbour. She clapped her over her mouth, horrified, and scarpered in next door to her own house. I met her the next day, and she was mortified. Jim had been slagging her about attempting to break and enter. You just don’t get the same class of neighbours these days. Connie is writing a blog about life so far in Saskatoon, and has some great photos on it; she’s a photographer by trade. This is the link:
We spent Saturday at the fishing lake beside the Zoo, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Tire were hosting a free fishing day. The kids had a blast. They were given a fishing rod each, and shown how to fish by the policemen, who were patrolling the lake with tins of bait and de-tangling all the rods for the kids. They caught nothing, thank God, but learnt how to cast, reel in, and avoid taking the eyes out of everyone around them. Rebecca started out determinedly flinging the rod into the water, and then lost interest; it was much more exciting to wade into the lake in her wellies and throw sticks. A free barbecue and an hour in the playground finished off the afternoon, and now they want to go fishing “properly” – i.e. catch something – in the northern lakes.
We rooted out the barbecue from the shed, bought propane gas, and fired it up last weekend. The highlight of the meal came at the end, when the kids stuck giant marshmallows onto their “marshmallow sticks” and roasted them. Apparently one of the local stores sells giant Neapolitan marshmallows – vanilla, strawberry and chocolate – so we’ll have to hunt for them soon. June and Eddie, and Kelly and James are barbecuing everything in sight, and some of the recipes suggested to me by Canadian neighbours sound gorgeous. I don’t think anyone in Saskatoon uses their kitchen once summer arrives. We took a trip to Dairy Queen on Sunday evening for Blizzard ice-creams – Rolo, Peanut Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Extreme and Chocolate Pieces.
On a more scientific note, a certain member of the Irish community almost made an important discovery on arrival in Saskatoon. June brought a weighing scales with her, and when she finally pulled it out when unpacking, she discovered that the battery was gone. So off she went to buy a new one, installed it into the scales, switched it on, and discovered it wasn’t measuring in the same way at all any more. Instead of measuring in grams, it was now measuring in ounces. A conversation ensued at the kitchen table. “Well”, said June, “you’ll never believe this. I changed the battery in my weighing scales, and now it’s measuring in ounces instead of grams”. We looked at her. “So change it back to ounces?” I suggested. “I can’t! It just stays the same”. “But there must be a button”, said Kelly. “No button. Definitely not. I think it’s because of the battery”. “What do you mean, the battery?!” “Well, I put in a Canadian battery, and now it’s measuring in ounces, like they do in Canada”. “Sooooo”, I said slowly, “the battery changed the way the scales measures, and now it’s using imperial?” “Or,” said one of the lads, “the scales just knows it’s in Canada now?” “Well, there’s no other explanation”, said June firmly. “There’s definitely a button”, said Kelly. “No. No button”. She was adamant. Off they went home, and Eddie took it upon himself to examine the mysterious scales. “What’s this button for underneath?” he queried. It wasn’t even that small. A galloping horse might miss it, but not Eddie. Just the horse, and June. We still talk about the amazing intuition of Canadian batteries, and the way jet-lag knocked the scales out of sync.
Connie and I walked to a garage sale yesterday afternoon, and it started raining on the way. Rebecca was skipping along in front of us, in her shorts, t-shirts and baseball cap, when she realised that something wasn’t quite as it should be. “MOM! what is this WET stuff falling on me?!” she shrieked. Not something I thought I’d ever hear from her mouth, even though I think yesterday was only the second time she’s seen rain since we got here. It’s very strange to see and hear her becoming so Canadian.