I met them when I spent a long summer in Alberta. I was invited to stay at their home.
I remember the first time I met my Canadian family at the Calgary Airport. I was very tired and frightened... My English was far from perfect even though I was majoring in English at Montpellier University.
I had heard that in Alberta, there were very few French people around and I was feeling very French, so totally French and so lost!
Besides they were living on a farm and even though part of my family had been farming a long, long time ago, I was a city girl.
At the airport, there were only five people waiting for me but they seemed like a crowd! It shows how scared I was.
Well, it was almost love at first sight. By the time, we reached Taber, we were getting more comfy. Since then, I’ve heard hilarious but very touching stories about how the whole family had been planning very seriously to make «the French girl» feel at home.
We bonded so easily that by the end of the summer, we were very, very close. I was the oldest one, I should have been the wisest one but I loved having fun very much. And so we did have a lot of fun together.
We talked about everything... We did thousands of things together. We did enjoy being together, we really did!
It was summertime which is always a very busy time on a farm. And we worked a lot. I didn’t mind working. I thought it was interesting and fun. You see, the French farms I knew were very small. Theirs was huge... and I was discovering very modern farming. I was flabbergasted (I love this word!). I really was.
So there was a lot of work like hoeing the sugar beets (I mean the weeds in between the beets even tho from time to time I’m sure I hoed a couple of beets off, sorry!). It was so hot that we kept drinking salty water. Another cultural shock!
Then there was moving the spinkler-pipes every so often... and this was hard on my arms at first. By the end of my stay, I was much stronger. For the first time in my life, I developed very muscular arms and legs.
We had to get up during the night to go with Dad who was a darling man to open the irrigation gates when our turn had come to get water from the ducts.
I asked many times to go along because we’d have very profound talks, the kind of sharing thoughts that’s easier to do during the night than during the day. I used to love being around my sisters’ dad because he was a real father and such a kind man. I learnt a lot from him besides opening irrigation gates.
Then came harvesting time. We got some help from a couple of boys! So much fun! But we did a terrific job! This was done very close to the end of my stay and by then, we had really grown to be more than sisters.
I almost forgot to tell about sorting the cows to send the chosen ones to the auction market! Quite interesting since I did it barefeet. Cows are kind of heavy beasts, you know. Being scared as they were, there was also a lot of dung on the ground! Good lesson for me.
So there was a lot of work... But there was a lot of fun too. Lots of giggling and laughing. Lots of music and singing in this house. Another amazing experience for me.
I still remember the day when Dad brought us back from the fields in the bucket of his backhoe. I think that our (delighted) screams could be heard at least 10 miles away!
I didn’t have a driver’s license but I was allowed to drive the tractor, the backhoe, the pick-up. I even drove the cows to the auction market in what seemed to me quite a big truck! I felt so happy but I became quite a wild driver.
The harvest was almost over and there were a few bales left to take back to the farm. So we loaded the back of the pick-up and off we went. I was driving of course.
There we were, at top speed on a track, laughing our heads off as usual. I can’t remember what happened next except that we went down below somewhere in another field after a double somersault, I imagine, since we were back to ‘normal’ except that we were huddled together in a very weird way inside the pick-up. A few very unusual minutes (seconds?) of silence.
‘Are you hurt?’
We looked around. The bales were no longer where they were supposed to be. They were scattered all over the field.
And it suddenly hit us:
‘Oh no! What will Dad say?’
Somehow, we got back to the farm. Guess what? Dad was wonderful. He didn’t get upset at all since we were alive and unhurt.
That summer was really filled with fun.
Poor Myrna didn’t get half the fun tho because she was mostly staying home helping Mom to fix lunch or supper and then cleaning the dishes. She probably felt left out from time to time.
Sometimes we were really mean to her because she was the ‘baby’! But she was allright. She knew how to fight back! She was so ‘petite’ compared to me! She made me laugh a lot. Yes, she sure was fun too!
We did go camping with her at Waterton... We loved every minute of it.
And we sang all together at their cousin’s wedding... They got me to sing and act. Well I loved to act but I hated to sing! We did create quite a strong impression on the audience tho!
Well, so many good and sweet memories!
And now we’re slowly getting older.
Our children meet from time to time... bonding again sisters from far-off lands.
*Good Night, and Good Luck"