Category Archives: The North


Today I mowed the lawn. I used a push mower and it was hard to push because of the number of branches laying on the damp ground. The grass was about 4 inches high, lush, superbly green, and buttery as the machine went over it. My strength turned a fly-wheel in the mower to double or even triple (or more) the power of the mower as it haircutted the beautiful patch of refined earth.
I loved it.

The Arrival and Borders

We made it. I’m happily ensconsced in Canada, living among the Northerners as an immigrant. It’s an odd place to be still, only five days after arrival, but there are many initial observations, despite our current lack of a permanent home, a permanent peace, furniture, wireless connectivity, and general daily stability.
I crossed the border at Winnipeg International Airport, currently under renovation like much of the city, and the immigration security there were both extremely efficient and friendly, just as I had hoped. We had done an incredible amount of “strategic planning” in order to get to that point with the help of our lawyer and this was a big payoff.
Being only two hours from the U.S. border is odd. I immediately started to look at the labels on packages throughout the house we’re staying in and most of the labels say “Made in Canada.” This is not surprising. But it’s interesting that these products are made for the artificial container of the Canadian nation and made for cost effective and duty-free distribution within the country in order to ensure appropriate tariffing and transactions. The border, as everyone knows, is a fluid thing, a contrivance that is both porous and structured and yet the products made and distributed here are a subset of the Canadian nation. WHat does this mean? It means that I’ve found it fascinating to recognize that national ideologies and tropes are really separate entities from the commercial ones we’ve come to accept. But they’re also intimately connected – Canadian goods are not unlike U.S. goods but they are captured under a differently organized national infrastructure.
Maybe I need a better example. Many of our friends here are traveling throughout Canada right now to see their friends and family. They think nothing of traveling 1000 or 2500 miles to do so. Canadians, from my superbly limited observation time, don’t mind making long treks across their country to visit one another. One city is not like the other but they all operate within a nationalism that is not like that of the U.S. Here, nationalism seems to include a feeling of comradery among citizens among cities and places. In the U.S., nationalism is more exclusive, based on states, localities, regions, and dialects (not to mention the more permeating issues of race, class, culture, etc.) In other words, I’m fascinated by the fact that Canadians are taking these next few weeks to travel around Canada and to visit their fellow citizens via automobile. Not once in our conversations did I hear about gas being expensive or about traffic being a worry or about finding enough time to see everyone and having to sit in the car – all things that seem to predominate U.S. travelers’ conversations.
In any case, I was able to attend the last night of Winnipeg’s Fringe Festival and saw a play called “The Big Funk,” an unfortunate name for a good performance by young and very talented actors about the possibility or improbability of transcending one’s mind.