Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ukrainian boomerangs and one giant sausage

Bison at Elk Island National Park

After San Francisco, I flew to Edmonton in Canada, home of the McLeod’s – my sister-in-law Andrea’s hometown. It would have been colder than at home in Sydney (where it was getting on for winter) but for someone who is unnaturally attracted to the cold, it was great.
Last time I was here it was summer, with sunlight until 10pm or so. April is a different matter. It’s cold, the snow has only just melted, so everywhere is brown and muddy. But, I loved it all the same. For me it was a novelty that we could go to the national park (Elk Island) and still see snow on the ground and the lake half frozen over. This time too, I got to get that little bit closer to the bison. Probably as close as I’d like to get.

Frozen lake at Elk Island, and as close as I wanted to get to those guys

Alberta is also the province of Canada well known for its ‘big things’. This time, Lash took me to the towns of Mundare and Vegreville to see the Giant Ukrainian Sausage, and the Giant Pysanka (Ukrainian Easter Egg) respectively. The area was favoured by many Ukrainian settlers, hence there is a large Ukrainian community still in the area from which Lash is descended. I found the Pysanka very pretty, however the giant sausage was not. Still I did get to taste some – it wasn’t bad.

The giant Ukrainian Sausage, and the Giant Pysanka
I also got to take a ride along with Shirley, Andrea’s sister, who is an officer with the Edmonton Police, while it was somewhat of a quiet night for them, we did speed along the Edmonton streets, arrest an unruly teenager, comfort a little boy after a stranger offered him candy and visit the hospital, all in all a really interesting night

The real joy of the visit was seeing the MacLeods again, including grandchildren Riley and Haley who latched on to ‘Aunty Claire’ and her funny accent. In addition, Riley, drawing on his heritage introduced me to the idea of one of the older Ukrainian artifacts, the Ukrainian boomerang. “But Riley, I thought boomerangs came from Australia!”. “Well not this one. This one is from North America”. I guess I’ve been educated. And of course the biggest kid of all, the gorgeous black Labrador, Koda. She'd certainly grown since my last visit