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Olympic report

My mother’s condo, I’ve just discovered, has wifi! I don’t have to drive out to the café – I’m in my nightgown still, the ladies murmuring their crossword nearby. “Plastic something band.” “Home finisher.” “One hose vehicle.” “Wichita neighbor.” “A kind of yoga beginning with h.”
“Hatha,” I say.
“51 down – old Greek colony.”
“Ionia,” says Do, after flipping through the Crossword Dictionary.

They are saying this is a record cold and snowy winter in the U. S. – snow fell yesterday in 49 States, including Florida. Snow fell in Alabama for the first time in decades, and yet there is hardly any snow in Toronto. Today’s low here in Florida – 39 degrees. However, late yesterday afternoon, the rain stopped and I went for a walk on the beach, watching the streaks of pink and gold on the horizon as the sun got ready to drop out of sight. The scene was as beautiful as ever, even if I was wearing every bit of clothing I’d brought with me, including my winter hat and gloves.

And then … we sat in front of the television, as American broadcasters celebrated Canada. They ran a film about us, first, how with 33 million people, we live in the second largest country in the world but 90% of us live near the American border; that the record cold was in the Yukon in 1947 – minus 81 degrees. But then after the clichés of cold and closeness came much praise. “The Canadians entered World War 2 before we did,” said the narrator, going on to talk about Canadians honouring their Afghan fallen on the Highway of Heroes, Ken Taylor rescuing six U.S. diplomats, and the thousands of passengers who were rescued and taken care of in Canada on Sept. 11th, when their planes made emergency landings. “Our relationship with Canada is close, productive and peaceful,” the documentary concluded. “We share a continent and so much more.”
“There are more people in California than in all of Canada,” said the commentator.
“And the Canadian economy is stronger than ours,” replied the other, before going on about the beauty of Vancouver.
And then the ceremony. The ladies and I loved it. I loved the front and centre presence of the peoples of the First Nations and the relative simplicity of the event, especially the young man soaring above projections of prairie grasses and the gorgeous power of k.d. lang. I do wish there had been more readings from Canadian writers and much more about the culture of Quebec.
Loved the faces from countries who’d sent one athlete – Algeria, Armenia, Bermuda, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal – countries which have never won anything in winter but are there anyway. The minute of silence for the dead Georgian athlete, 21 years old. The face of Michaele Jean, our GG from Haiti. (Too bad about the PM with his face frozen in an approximation of a smile, as always – what is wrong with that man? Does he feel anything genuine, ever?) Great to see Gretsk, Rick Hanson, Betty Fox and the others. On Facebook this morning, some of my friends are already critical, hating the sparkly polar bear, the hokeyness of the native dances. I don’t want to criticise. We loved it and so did the American commentators. “Canadians are the friendliest, most welcoming people on earth,” said one. Yes indeed.
“Something Barrett of Pink Floyd,” says my mother.
“Syd,” I say.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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