Monday, June 12, 2006


Back In The USSR—err, USA

Back. Back in the States, back in Bend Oregon. Somehow, I’m experiencing culture shock after spending two weeks away. It doesn’t take much.

We spent a week in south-east British Columbia: they call it the west Kootenays. It includes the Columbia River valley, the Kootenay River, and Kootenay Lake. The mountains are mostly granite and have been smoothed by generations of glaciers.. Steep mountains and flat narrow valleys. It’s very green—especially if you’ve been living in an arid country. There are dozens of shades of green. Thick thorny undergrowth and a feeling that if one doesn’t work hard the undergrowth will simply overtake everything. There are small farms and ranches in all the valleys: cow pastures and berry farms, truck gardens and sheep pens, and flowers at every house. Log cabins—old log cabins, hand built and not kit-built, and even log barns. Rustic as hell. British Columbia is what rural Oregon fantasizes about being like.

The people up there—quite a few ex-Americans among them—have an attitude of “what the hell is your country doing?” We got along fine, sure, because once I was there, the United States was a different location, rather than an all-surrounding environment. No cars demanding “Support Our Troops,” no hourly newscasts on Our Great Crusade. Not even very many strip malls or chain restaurants or big box stores.

It’s obvious the U.S. is going to have to invade Canada, just to make Canadians behave properly. They don’t behave like Americans.

When we came back into the States, the first big town we drove through was Couer d-Alene, Idaho. That was more like it: nothing but strip malls and chain restaurants, cars with American flags and assorted patriotic-religious bumper stickers. Even subdivisions! Progress, in other words.

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller called it.

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