Sick as a dog for Animal Health Week

I’m in Banff again and at last, having left Victoria on Saturday morning for the long drive (some 932 km according to Google Map). I’d intended to stop over in Kamloops, but the wandering Irishman who vocalizes my GPS system got us lost and led me to a field the far side of town instead of the motel I’d aimed for, so I pressed on instead to Salmon Arm. Which made it a relatively short hop to Golden, where I’d last been in 2009: it was our breakfast stop in the neverending overnight Greyhound bus ride from Vancouver. It’s a stunningly beautiful location, perched on a river in the Rockies, just shy of the Alberta border, and I’d meant once day to return when I had a bit more freedom to roam. On that trip two years ago we had been set loose on the dubious culinary pleasures to be found in the Husky convenience store. If plastic-wrapped processed cheese and luncheon meat sandwiches are your dream breakfast, it was ideal, but I was hoping there was better fare to be found this time, so I stopped at The Island which had intrigued from its website.

Though they offered me the option of a late breakfast, I opted for a lunch food. In a restaurant that aims for more challenging approaches (=quinoa bread french toast would not be found on many menus) I reasoned a seeming standard item could be interesting, so I chose the caesar salad. I should disclose now that I’m suffering from a heavy cold so my senses may not have been operating at full speed. But when I see a salad like this I’m afraid my heart sinks: it’s just too hard to eat with a knife and fork. The parmesan rounds were crunchy and attractive but, like the bacon shards, shattered on impact; the croutons were, I’m guessing with approval, house-made from interesting breads, but too sturdy to be forked. So it took a good deal of cutting and balancing to negotiate into my mouth. The dressing had a nice bit of heat; the leaves were fresh, and that’s probably enough said. I was next drawn to the Rosehip Creme Brulee which was pretty but I rather wish I’d tried the Crabapple one which might have had a more identifiable flavour. Will write that off to my congestion. Anyway, all attractively served by charming and friendly waitress and a proper send-off to the rest of my journey to join the Wired Writing Studio which commenced properly this morning.

I’ll be working with Stan Dragland on seeing if it’s possible to shape some of this blog into book form, and otherwise rubbing shoulders with a geographically scattered group – participants have come from Ireland, Argentina, New Hampshire, Australia, the Yukon and NWT, and all points from Nova Scotia to Victoria. Unusually I seem to be the only West Coaster this time.

I’m sorry to have missed the Salt Spring apple festival, and the zillion other things that are happening on Vancouver Island this harvest season. But we can all celebrate wherever we are Animal Health Week, which the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reminds us is good for our health too. I’d listened to a couple of audio books on the way out here and in Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond makes the point that human illnesses had their origins in the animals we domesticated – and colonizing cultures brought both diseases and animals with them as they moved into new territories. So it’s a complex and important thing to think about.

Speaking of healthy animals, I hope that little orphaned Hunter is happy and healthy; he stopped over with me for a month this summer, keeping the rats at bay, taking me for long vigorous walks and hectoring my neighbours, and is otherwise looking for a permanent home after a lifetime spent mostly in a crate. He’s a handful…

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One Response to Sick as a dog for Animal Health Week

  1. Nancy Mattson says:

    Hi Rhona,
    It’s good to hear you are working with Stan Dragland. He was my English 200 prof. in 1967 (!) in an evening class at the U of A when I had a different surname. Stan was a great teacher with a sly and apt sense of humour. Before being in his class I didn’t realize that anyone was allowed to relate politics to literature and to be cheeky & satirical in the process. Was it not written in stone that Ernest Manning was destined to be Alberta’s premier always, that he could never be wrong about anything? How sheltered, how innocent I was.

    Stan took the leaden cover off the study of literature — my high school teachers did what they had to, I guess, in an era when our final marks were 100 percent determined by our provincial examination results. So they taught to the test and put a damper on any enthusiasm for books on the syllabus.

    See you soon in London!
    Nancy xx