The Grass is Greener: An American Perspective

I’ve always loved Canada. What’s not to love about a country that stands for peace, freedom, and equal rights for everyone?

Who wouldn’t adore a place brazen enough to love maple syrup the way Americans love gluten-free everything? That’s what I’m talking about.

I’ve been visiting Canada’s glorious lands most of my life.

Double rainbow, Jasper, AB. Photo by Nicole Atkins
Double rainbow, Jasper, AB. Photo by Nicole Atkins

I grew up in Portland, Oregon and did a stint in Seattle, so the promised land was never far. Spending time in Canada is where I saw true kindness for the first time. Unlike the passive aggressive, superficial civility you often see in America. I’ve never seen so many people say “thank you” anywhere else. “Southern charm” ain’t got nothin’ on “Northern charm”.

My admiration for the great north really blossomed when I first came to the Canadian Rockies. Spires of mountain peaks rising up so high I had to crane my neck to see their summits. Lakes so pristine I’d swear no human hand had touched their waters. Forests with valleys blanketed in the finest palette of wildflowers I’d ever feast my eyes upon. All this, accessible to me without having to sell my soul. What a bargain.

Lake O'Hara hike, Yoho. Photo by Nicole Atkins
Lake O’Hara hike, Yoho. Photo by Nicole Atkins

I’ve been there a few times now and will go back as often as I can. At least, that is, until my body can’t handle anymore. Or someone builds a wall to keep me out.

My last trip through the Rockies was especially memorable. It was in the midst of the presidential voting season and the possibility of Trump being elected was becoming a reality. I needed an escape from the clutches of American politics, so North I went, to the promised land! Beginning in Waterton Lakes and ending in Jasper, I saw as much as I could that I hadn’t seen before.

Canada’s trees were greener, the water deeper shades of emerald. The dirt smelled sweeter, and the snow glittered like champagne between lovers.

Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be close to you…

O, Canada…

Moraine Lake, Banff. Photo by Nicole Atkins
Moraine Lake, Banff. Photo by Nicole Atkins

With all the talk of Americans escaping to Canada, one couldn’t help but see the world with eager eyes. Even the most rational among us had our moments of self-justification for fleeing.

Being hyper aware of my own nation’s possible future made me more aware of the differences I noticed visiting my Northern neighbor. From the impeccable organization of the park system, to road conditions, to the way people treated each other and their public spaces.

But eventually, I became aware of how similar we are.

Don’t get me wrong. If I could smuggle Trudeau over the border and trade him for a cheaper model, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But since that’s not a viable option, I’m forced to be reasonable.

Political agendas wax and wane. Even Canada has had its share of shifting zeitgeists. In the end, we’re all just people trying to make our way through life the best we can.

So, I let the dream of emigrating fade like the setting sun.

Hector Lake, Banff. Photo by Nicole Atkins
Hector Lake, Banff. Photo by Nicole Atkins
Vermilion Lakes, Banff. Photo by Nicole Atkins
Vermilion Lakes, Banff. Photo by Nicole Atkins

My country needs me now more than ever. And in the meantime, Canada is just a hop, skip, jump, cartwheel, and possible wall-climb away. A playground of unspoiled splendor awaiting me when I need a break from this docudrama we call Life in America.


nicole-headshotNicole’s unbreakable bond with the outdoors started in childhood. Through every phase of life, nature has been close by. A reliable source of serenity and reminder that life is as it should be. She began as an academic researcher, but her passions lie outside the lab. Now she’s a writer and photographer, making her way through the Western states. When she’s not traversing mountains and deserts, bagging peaks, conquering new challenges, or staring down honey badgers, she’s writing about it on her blog, The Modern Outdoors. A new adventure awaits…

Nicole’s social media links:

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim says:

    Love it! It’s great to read someone other than Canadian see what we all see or have been saying for years! thanks for the great blog!

    Like

  2. zevenhoven55 says:

    I totally agree with her perspective!!!

    On Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 2:09 PM, Waboose Adventures wrote:

    > Nicole posted: “I’ve always loved Canada. What’s not to love about a > country that stands for peace, freedom, and equal rights for everyone? Who > wouldn’t adore a place brazen enough to love maple syrup the way Americans > love gluten-free everything? That’s what I’m talk” >

    Like

  3. Great article. Even though we have issues just like any other place, sometimes it’s easy to forget how great we have it here.

    Like

  4. I love Canada! I’ve driven through it a few times going to/from Alaska and it’s just gorgeous on the western side. I need to take another trip to the Yukon or BC soon!

    Like

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