Friday, July 18, 2008

Return to CanadAmerica, Part II: Double Good

Continued from Part I

I woke up from a nap and removed the thin, dark blue blanket covering my head.

“Any international security forces tailing us?” I asked my wife.


Spy stuff, I tell her.

“Oh god,” she says and then refers to me as Walter Mitty’s donut-loving cousin.

I guess we’ve ditched the double agents, so I toss the blanket onto the back seat. Another mission accomplished…

From Grand Manan, we landed at Blacks Harbour and then drove to the safe house in St. Andrew’s.

After a two-hour nap, I watched a doubleheader—Oprah and Ellen—as cell phone coverage went from Rogers to AT&T to Rogers to AT&T.

My wife and I then walked west along Water Street, past the art gallery touting and toward Olde Tyme Pizza.

While we waited for the Hawaiian Pizza, I glanced back and forth at the two televisions. On the monitor to my left, the Weather Network updated us on highs and lows across Canada; to my right, a station from New York aired the People’s Court.

Walking back toward the wharf, we entered the new coffee shop in town. At Honey Beans we ordered two hot beverages. The new owners, who had moved from Alberta, were still getting things in order. They needed business cards, a Web site, and an American flag to compliment the Canadian one hanging outside, but my hot chocolate and my wife’s latte hit the spot.

With sundown still two hours or so away, we finished our treats while gazing upon Passamaquoddy Bay. We discussed the possibility of someday setting up a satellite spy operation here in St. Andrews, where we could observe activities from Canada’s Navy Island to Eastport, Maine.

Instead of watching the same fireworks that Eastporters would watch the reluctant spy’s wife and I walked back to the safe house to catch the pyrotechnics on Boston’s WBZ.

I fell asleep long before the first flare was fired, knowing that we’d have to slink from the safe house before the authorities could, unannounced, pop in on us.

On the road by 6:00 a.m., Walter Mitty's donut-loving cousin and his wife were at Timmy’s in St. Stephen and then across the border before the feds could say “foiled again.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Return to CanadAmerica, Part I: Happy Days

Thursday July 3, 2008
11:00 a.m., Atlantic Time

“You gonna eat that donut?” I ask the AMHL Photographer as we wait to board the boat that will ferry us from Grand Manan to mainland New Brunswick.

The donut has accompanies us for about two of our three happy days in the heart of CanadAmerica. Without a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Tim Hortons, it was surprisingly easy to find a donut. North Head Bakery was a snap to locate—way easier than finding any harbinger of hockey.

Grand Manan is all about basketball. Hoops hang above many a garage door, and the b-ball court stands out in the village centre. Hockey doesn’t even place second here. A source at a local eatery told me that a vote was taken to determine if the local arena should accommodate curlers or skaters. Curlers won the big prize, but an outdoor rink was constructed for when weather permits, which is not as often as you might think, islanders to play hockey.

Hockey has been unheralded here, but that may change because ground has been broken for a multi-purpose complex that will house the Boys and Girls Club and an upgraded ice rink. Another source told me that some islanders are skeptical about the need for an indoor ice surface, however. This doubt sounds similar to what yet another source said about the fishing industry vis-à-vis tourism: Those who land lobsters and haul in herring tolerate the tourists.

Best to keep a low profile, which as a field agent is now second nature. (I don’t stand on street corners pretending to read newspapers) Laying low for my meals at the safe house, I enjoyed the victuals and ambiance.

“Put Your Head on My Shoulders”, the Paul Anka song Warren “Potsie” Weber made famous, prompted me to ask my wife, “I wonder what Anson Carter—I mean Anson Williams—is doing?

I don’t know where the ex-Bruin or the former TV star are these days, but I enjoyed the wordless version of the hit from Happy Days as much as I’ll relish that donut to which I haven’t yet formally introduced you.

Meet the chocolate sugared donut: chocolate cake, no glaze, just granular sugar sprinkled on top and a nutty aftertaste going down. I know this because, a few days ago. I devoured a donut from the same batch as the one now in the brown paper bag.

My wife doesn’t want any part of this two-day-old beauty and grants me the rights to the free agent confection.

“You’re like a five year old,” she says. “You’ll eat anything that isn’t nailed down!”

So be it. But besides the obvious faux pas of dissing a donut, tossing it toward the trashcan—as if the donut were a basketball flying toward a hoop—would be too risky.

Unlike basketball on Grand Manan, I want to keep a low profile, especially when escape to the mainland is imminent.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

History and "Mission" Statement

“Canadian spy.” In due time, when AMHL Glory is published, I’ll reveal the person responsible for creating that moniker for me. I’ll let you in, though, on the history and evolution of my “mission.”

On the Fourth of July, 2006, while driving through New Brunswick, I first envisioned a separate Web site for readers who want to learn more about Canada. Content would be aimed Americans who would want to delve past the thick ice of silly superficialities and stereotypes: hockey freaks, Molson-minded Mounties, and eh-sayers who spell “center” with the e at the end.

Since that day two years ago, I’ve talked to many Canadians who don’t even follow hockey. I know Canadians, on both sides of the 49th parallel, who say PRAH-sess instead of PROH-cess. One Canadian goalie I know may as well pledge allegiance to Coors instead of Molson. And some stateside Canadians have no intention of returning home.

This site, then, is not only a source for enlightenment about America’s northerly neighbor but also a portal for disconnected Canadians who maybe haven’t seen the Sun (the Ottawa Sun, that is) in a while or who haven’t recently read the Globe and Mail.

In addition to links to mainstream media outlets and to satellite sites that shed light on Canada’s grass roots, I’ll deliver quick-hitting and reliable field reports (while dodging the authorities who track my every move.) is for Americans who want to avoid appearing on a Rick Mercer special, but the site is ultimately for Americans and Canadians—and anyone else who seeks insights about Canada. And my ultimate “mission” is to foster greater understanding between two great nations.

Oh, and almost anyone can become a “Canadian spy.” So if you’d like to pursue a challenging career in “covert ops,” or become a famous “field agent,” please send e-mail to jimfdwyer(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thanks for reading (and for not reporting me to the authorities.)

Jim Dwyer