Thursday, August 30, 2012

Past Deadline: Hey! Look! A Distraction!

I'm old school. And I am easily amused.

When I go on car trips I like to look around. Yes, I have been known to play with my phone when I am a passenger, but other than that I prefer to scope out my varied surroundings.

That's not the case with some of the short people I live with. When we go on long car trips we go armed to the teeth with amusements. Various electronics, books, dolls, etc. I've probably mentioned before that I used to watch for white horses (they were worth a nickel if spotted) and I kept a long list of licence plate numbers. It was my collection.

Okay. Yes. Maybe I was a bit odd (see "easily amused" above).

Anyway, every time we travel with the kids this variance in amusement levels becomes quite evident.

Picture this. Sicily, 1932. Oops, wrong sitcom. Picture this. We're travelling along Hwys. 7 and 401, 2012. I am in the front seat yakking like a tour guide. "Ooh! Look at that cliff of feldspar! Say, these swamps aren't as dry as at home. Look! Turtles on a log! Hey, there's a whole heard of running horses! Wow - look how flat the face of that cliff is! Oh - there's a big hawk!"

Meanwhile, the audience in the back row is watching a flick or taking figurines and pretending they're voodoo dolls or playing elaborate pretend games. Okay, well, the pretending stuff is okay because they are using their imaginations, but hey! "Look! There's Lake Ontario!"

Do you remember years ago when the province had a wildflower-planting project happening in medians and along the edges of Hwy. 401? I spent a great amount of time watching flashes of occasionally recognizable colour flashing by and trying to identify flowers. (I'm telling you, easily amused.)

"Oh and here comes the Northumberland County Materials Recycling Facility!" I say, taking a picture with my phone to send to my friend who used to be the waste management coordinator at home. I start babbling excitedly about that time way back when I worked at the paper and I went on a bus trip with a whole bunch of Lanark County councillors to that MRF and the landfill site to see how their waste management system worked.

"It was a great field trip!" I say.

"Maybe you should just keep that information to yourself," Groom-boy mumbles.

"And we ate at the Big Apple restaurant and there were bunnies hopping all over the place outside!"

I never get tired of looking at scenery. (Maybe I would feel differently driving through the prairies, but I doubt it.)

Now, to be fair, when we passed the nuclear power plant and I pointed it out, there was some interest and a number of questions from one of my worryworts about nuclear safety. My response that everything would be fine "as long as it doesn't blow up" was unhelpful, but then a handy eastbound freight train came along.

"Hey! Look! A train!"

I suppose that's what it all comes back to, actually - distraction. We had no choice but amuse ourselves on car rides in the '70s, which was a distraction from the fact that, for example, it was a very long drive to see our grandparents in Elliot Lake. If I remember correctly, I got a lot of licence plate numbers collected on that trip. I also wrote down the name of every, single community we passed through and followed along with a road map. Remember road maps? They were made of paper!

And can we say: "Hey! Look! Canadian Shield!" much?

Published in The Perth Courier, Aug. 16/12

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