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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 08.27.06
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

What I learned in PEI

*** If you want to make a fortune, take two tried-and-true ideas and combine them. For example: the famous PEI potato plus the famous PEI lobster equals lobster-flavoured potato chips. Genius!

I'll throw this out there for anyone interested in developing it: Anne of Green Gables air fresheners.

*** Skunks are cockier than raccoons. Our campsites were invaded by one, then the other in the middle of the night. I tried to scare away the skunk by throwing small objects near it (but not at it - you don't want to hit the trigger).

Apparently skunks are not afraid of small boulders rolling towards them. It didn't budge. It just looked at me as if to say, "Yeah? What are you going to do about it?"

I finally went back to the tent. "Fine," I said to myself, "you can stay but keep it down out here."

The raccoon a few nights later was more persistent. It managed to get into our food bin, but scared off more easily, probably because I could walk right up to it in the dark. I'm not afraid of no raccoon!

Bottom line: stink trumps opposable thumbs every time.

*** An astounding number of people don't wash their hands in public washrooms.

*** I don't look 25. I know this because no PEI Liquor Stores clerks asked me for ID even though the signs say they will ID anyone who looks 25 and under.

This seems pretty arbitrary to me. Why not 24 or 26? Or better yet, why not just say, "We will ID anyone who looks under the drinking age of 19?"

It's probably something else to blame on Hollywood, which habitually casts 30-year-olds in high school dramas so that no one knows what a teenager's really look like anymore. At any rate, I don't look 25.

*** Avoid seafood restaurants that have the size and ambience of an IKEA warehouse. Trust me on this one.

*** PEI Parks have the skimpiest soap dispensers around. Not that it matters (see public washrooms above).

*** As advertised, people sure are nice in PEI. Most people anyway. We were watching the Northumberland ferry head into the strait one evening when a trio of lads that had been fishing on the wharf drove past with a tackle box on the roof of their car. We started yelling and pointing to the top of our heads - the universal "on the roof" gesture. A dude in the back seat looked at us glumly. Then he flipped us off.

"Hey! He just told us to…" Deb said loudly. Uh, yeah Mom, we get it.

We prayed that karma would send that tackle box flying off the roof onto the road. But no. Maybe it was bungeed on. Maybe they were from Quebec.

***If you want to pass yourself off as a Maritimer, all you need is this little trick: when you agree with something, you go "Hyuh" on an intake of breath.

For example:

"Those lobster potato chips sure are disgusting."

"Hyuh."

I don't have a Maritime accent but my Nova Scotia roots occasionally come out in this way, especially when I'm speaking with my family. Some people don't even know they do it. A couple of summers ago, my sister and I pointed out this verbal tic to a Pictou County woman who never realized she did it and was immediately rendered self-conscious. My sister and I did a good job, eh? Hyuh.

***If you go to the Ripley's Museum in Cavendish, you can easily imagine you're in Ontario… believe it or not!

*** There are some beautiful spots on PEI. One of our finds was Panmure Island near Montague. At least I think that's what it's called. I have a real mental block with this name.

Kate and James sent a message in a bottle out to sea and I told them to write that it was launched from "Pragmure Island." Someone's going to get that bottle and think, "Stupid Quebecers."

I only discovered my mistake later that afternoon when a friendly liquor store clerk asked where we had spent the afternoon. "Pragmure," I said. She paused and frowned, "Oh, Panmure!" She didn't ID me.

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