I'm proud to be a Canadian traveler
I was recently tagged by @littlegreybird to be part of the #MyCanada bloggers' roulette, and am honoured to contribute. The concept is that Canadian bloggers write a post about why they love Canada, and what they think travelers should do when they visit Canada. This exercise has given my the opportunity to really think about what Canada means to me, and, since I focus so much on travelling abroad, what it means to be home.
Like @littlegreybird, I too grew up in Nova Scotia and now live in a different part of the country. I think that growing up in a small community served as motivation to see the broader world, to seek new lands, to explore. Travel seems to be who I am and what I was meant to be. And yet some of my strongest, most emotional travel memories are of coming home, of coming back to Canada. And as we all know, nothing seems to tie into memory quite like smell. The more I thought about My Canada, my memories, my homecomings, the more wonderful smells that kept coming to my mind.
My Canada is the smell of absolute familiarity of visiting a Tim Horton's for the first time after 6 months of living abroad. I can't claim an extraordinary love of this beloved national icon of a coffee house chain, but there is something about breathing in it's scent that makes me feel I am home. What has this come to represent for me? Hospitality, friendship, humbleness. (An interesting side debate would be why they no longer sell butter tarts! Such tragedy!)
My Canada is the smell of fresh laundry, dried on a clothes line. There is nothing like coming back home and slipping into your own bed, with that other-worldly fresh air smell! It's one of my favourite smells in the world and it truly means I am home. I used to think it tied into our national identity of wide open spaces, endless meadows with wildflowers. But the perfect smell of line-dried sheets always seem the same, even in my tiny city backyard with adjacent exhaust fumes.
My Canada is the way the air smells with the first real snow of the season, and it's the way the air smells on the first day when you really sense spring is in the air. On these days, I feel like I wouldn't want to be anywhere other than Canada and, when I smell something similar when I'm overseas, I instantly feel a pang of homesickness. I think the change of seasons hold such emotion, signals such tradition, brings up so many memories and, while it's hard to describe, I really feel like you can smell a change in the air!
More than anything else, my Canada is the smell of the ocean. I grew up in a Maritime village, and have been going to the shore my whole life.
I feel such a strong connection to the ocean, the beach, the shore. The sound of water soothes me, and the smell of salt air is the strongest reminder I'm home.
I'm a far way from an ocean here in Ottawa, so many of my trips involve going to see the ocean in other countries. It's strange, isn't it, that you can leave your country to feel more at home? I think I come by my love of the sea very honestly. My great grandmother lived in England and, as a single woman, she gave birth to my grandfather at a young age.
Placed in an orphanage, he was sent to Canada as one of thousands of "home children" to work on the farms. My great grandmother lived an independent, slightly aloof life and, when we did genealogical research and found distant relatives, we learned that she loved to walk along the shore. I visited her grave along the Cornish coast, placed flowers on her grave, and walked along her beach, taking pebbles homes to Canada.
I've been searching for a while to find my own stretch of Canadian ocean to call my own. The place where I grew up is fraught with too many memories and I very much liked the idea of making a fresh start.
I've discovered the northern Cumberland County shore of Nova Scotia, connected to New Brunswick, and facing Prince Edward Island. It resembled home in geography only, with the memories a clean slate, ready to remake. To me, this is the favourite spot of My Canada- at the heart of three provinces, bathed in history, surrounded by sun, sea, sand, and salt air. It smells like home. It looks like the part of the country I grew up in. But the days are all my own.
I would now like to tag the next person to write about their #MyCanada. Alex, (@geoalex), you're up!
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