Yesterday, in Canada, I watched a friend who watched a Canada goose—though in reality the term branta Canadensis means “Canadian branta (goose)” not “Canada branta—watching her and hissing at her, with tongue arched like a frightened cat’s back. I mean the tongue of the goose, of course, not that of my friend. This spirited animal-human exchange was followed by a far less spirited human-human exchange about how socialized Canada really is and, then, whether the proper term is Canadian or Canada goose, with me ironically, as an American, defending the Queen’s English in Canada. For that is where we were and I still am as I write this; but yesterday, there I was, staring at my friend staring down the goose staring at her. But all that pales in comparison to the next conversation about the delightfulness of Canadian hospitality (or is it Canada hospitality?); in Latin it’s hospitium Canadense. Well, I suppose, following the goosey rules laid out above, it would be Canada hospitality.
But what about Canada bacon? Another friend, one from the sub-portion of this continent (i.e. an American friend), whom I happened to meet on the bus, said that she found Canada bacon (or is it Canadian bacon, or just bacon, since we’re actually now in Canada?) to be in her opinion quite inferior to American (specifically of course USA bacon). And while a vegan or someone who for religious reasons recuses pork products might make the case that all bacon is bad or at least to be passed over, nonetheless for carnivores with cultivated palates clearly some bacon tastes better than others. But that is, of course, a matter of opinion. My theory is that the vast majority of people who prefer ice hockey to American football will also prefer Canada bacon (or is it Canadian bacon?) to American (“genuine” USA) bacon.
And so it goes. But where does it go? For Canada is not all that different from the United States, but it is different nonetheless. The nation’s collective mentality seems to me gentler than the American psyche. The country’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is somehow more articulate, softer spoken and perhaps even sexier than the leader of the United States. If he hasn’t quite the same twitter following, nonetheless he arguably has far more of a rock-star quality. That said, he is, as I was saying, softer spoken. And perhaps that can be perceived as a weakness as much as it can be perceived as a strength.
But does Canada goose offer us a metaphor of the Canadian prime minister, or just make for a good story, in the end? Does it hiss like a Canada goose to warn any potential aggressor? Not so much; and perhaps there is a lesson there? A moral to a story about staring at the goose? I think Canada might be more like my friend staring in the face of a hissing goose; but I leave that aside.
And is there a lesson in the bacon? I’m not sure (in fact I doubt it sincerely). But a paranomasia, perhaps there’s that. If the United States offers the world a beacon of hope for liberty but not, these days, for refugees, then maybe Canada can offer the world’s neediest refugees a different beacon of hope, hope for refuge though of course with slightly less liberty (for, as my friend and I were discussing after the hissing goose incident, Canada is certainly more socialized and the price of such socialization would seem to be, we agreed, at least a slight cost to individual autonomy). So the beacons of hope that Canada and America each offers are just as different as their bacons. Just as Canada’s bacon larger, richer, and more expansive, so now, at least for the time being, is its offer of refuge to the world’s displaced. America’s is thinner, but still exists, I hope, just as I hope American bacon will not be going anywhere too soon, no matter how bad it is for one’s health.
But what about the Queen’s English? I think I prefer it, also richer and thicker like Canada bacon (or is it Canadian bacon) to the thinner American. But that’s just preference. For now, suffice it to say, I’ll have goose for dinner, not for friendship, and bacon of any kind for breakfast, and sincere hope for a beacon of hope all those displaced refugees, whether in Europe, or Canada, or anywhere else they may find safe haven. And someday, again, thoughtfully, carefully in America? Time will tell. For now just, let us hope for all humankind a better future, and that no one may get bit by a hissing goose.