Monday, September 14, 2015

A Cross Cultural Experience Right Here in My Own Front Yard!

Yesterday I had all the living room curtains and blinds thrown open wide so that I could watch the hundreds, maybe thousands, of runners going by as they ran our local Boston Marathon qualifier.  It was fascinating to see the array of running gear, the spread in the age groups, the supporters standing alongside the street cheering on their loved ones.  It is a bit lonely in here some days, so it was nice to feel slightly connected to the folk outside as I leaned on my walker and peered through the window.

About an hour after the last runner passed by I noticed some other rather intense activity going on out there.  I stood up to take a look and saw the most interesting and endearing sight!

A family from possibly India or thereabout, a mom and dad and teeny girl, dressed in the dress of their native country, were busy hand winnowing the many new pigweed plants that are growing in fresh soil along the front of our property where the sidewalks were recently repoured.  They each squatted down and cleared a small area of the weeds, which they stuffed down into plastic grocery bags to take home to eat, I assume, then would move on to another patch of weeds. **

** Side note: have you ever eaten freshly cooked pig weed (or lambs quarters as they are also known)?  It is fantastic...even better than spinach and the prairies are full of them.

I was rather amused as I watched drivers in the passing cars swivel their heads around to get a better look at this family out "gleaning in the fields", and I admit that even to me it was a bit of a shocking sight, right here in the Queen City. haha

Obviously at least somewhat new to Canada, no one had let this little family know that picking anything from someone else's private property is illegal here.  They had no idea they could be in any sort of trouble for doing it.  I suppose, as a former Albertan, all uppity about my own sense of "rights", (yes, that is part of my Alberta culture, it just is), I could have stumped out there to inform them they were doing something not done in Canada.  I could have called the police to have them removed.  There are all kinds of things I could have done to stop this infringement on the property where I pay rent.

What I actually did was wait for the woman to look up and see me, smiled at her and waved. She grinned back broadly and gave me a huge wave in return.  It was a very short interchange and it felt so good to not care about rights and the technicalities of the law.  That family is going to eat those plants that grow in profusion here in every fresh pile of soil, so the plants will not be wasted nor sprayed with weed killer.  Such an abundance of such a common commodity that is not as commonly recognized here any more as a food wonderful someone is putting it to good use.  The lady and I waved again at each other when she was finished picking and she took her husband and daughter off to wherever they now call home, bags bulging and spilling over with tasty bounty.

As I hear more about the world wide refugee crisis and realize that our country is going to have to "man up" and start taking in thousands of the fleeing persecuted from Syria and other countries in the middle east, I also realize Canadians are going to have to become more used to seeing the type of sight I saw yesterday outside my window in my own front yard.  It is going to be a difficult situation for us here in well to do Canada, where even many of our most poverty stricken have access to more goods and services than any of the refugees have had in their homelands.  People who don't know our lifestyle and our laws and social rules are going to cross our sensibilities and frustrate us.  Integration is going to be tricky if we sense the refugees are getting more concessions than our own citizens.

The world is in usual and this time Canada is not going to be able to stand back and remove itself or its citizens from the consequences of terrorism, refugees, confusion, cross cultural clashes, etc.  We had better mentally prepare ourselves for what is coming before it becomes a greater issue over the coming months.


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