Wherever you hang your ten gallon hat/touque, that's your home (Part 2 of 5)

A few days ago, I introduced what I called an exercise in serial daylogging. This is the second installment of the series. Please read my writeup at March 13, 2004 before proceeding.

What I miss most about Winnipeg
I was born and raised in and around the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In all, I spent the better part of 27 years living in southern Manitoba before moving to Texas. This is a list of the important (and trivial) things I left behind in Winnipeg, and in Canada as a whole. At least the good things; the crappier things will be covered later.

  • Perogies -- Perhaps an odd item to lead off my list, but hey, a guy has to have his priorities straight! The strong elements of the Polish and {Ukraine|Ukrainian] immigrants who came to the city in the early 20th Century have left an indelible mark in Winnipeg's overall culture. Virtually every non-fast food and non-ethnic restaurant in the city offers perogies on their menu, whether they be American chains like Perkins or the landmark Keleckis Restaurant on Main Street. Safeway offers two-pound (908 gram) bags of frozen perogies in three or four varieties. Cruising local garage sales may even net you a unique prize... Hunky Bill's Perogy Maker! Anyway you have it, perogies are hard to come by in Texas, unless you want to spend three dollars for a tiny microwavable tray of bland, nasty dumplings at Kroger.
  • Summertime festivals -- It's not that Dallas-Fort Worth doesn't have its festivals. It's just that they're not as ambitious as Winnipeg's. Texas summers can verge on the oppressive, pushing most outdoor concerts into the spring and autumn (for example, the State Fair of Texas, held annually in Dallas, is in October). Winnipeg summers are warm and sunny, providing perfect backdrops for events like the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Folklorama, the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Red River Exhibition. Nothing says "summer" to me as much as strolling the Midway at the Ex, eating bagfuls of Those Little Donuts.
  • Labatt 50 -- I miss 50. I miss Molson Dry. I miss Pilsner. I even miss Club (not necessarily the beer itself, but just the concept of it). While much cheaper than their Canadian counterparts, most American beer is simply offensive to the Canadian palate. 'Nuff said.
  • Canadian snack foods -- Perogies, beer and now chocolate bars? Yes, chocolate bars. Many of Canada's favorite junk foods can't be found south of the border: Caramilk (although it has a close cousin in Cadbury's Caramello), Crispy Crunch, Aero, Mackintosh's Toffee, Timbits (Tim Hortons has made some inroads in New England, but has yet to consider Texas), Coffee Crisp, Old Dutch potato chips, etc. Granted, there are new confections to supplant the Canadian treats, but many pale in comparison. Nostalgia has a taste, and that taste is good.
  • The bus system -- With a road system as frustrating and time consuming as Winnipeg's (see the next installment for details), a reliable mass transit system is a must. Winnipeg abandoned its streetcars decades ago, and has yet to have foresight enough to build a light rail system. This means that the burden of moving Winnipeg's commuters falls squarely on the shoulders of Transit Tom -- Winnipeg's fleet of orange passenger buses. The system works well, covering almost the whole city. Bus shelters are plentiful (a necessity when the winds are howling and the temperature's hovering at -29C) and the major arteries are covered by several routes. In comparison, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is serviced by two different transit systems (DART in Dallas and The T in Fort Worth) that have very limited overlap. Several cities in the region have opted out of the area's transit systems, citing lack of money of a desire to keep out undesirables. (Way to be progressive, Arlington!)
  • My friends -- I left this to the end on purpose, and it's not to insinuate that perogies are more important to me than my friends and family. Moving far enough away from home reinforces the kinship you have with your acquaintances. Starting from scratch in a strange city is a daunting task at best. Visits home and visits from home help ease the homesickness, but the best way to cure it is to forge new friendships in your new home. This, for me, is an ongoing process.

The next installment of the series will be very different from, yet similar to, this one... "What I miss least about Winnipeg".

The Daylogs
Part 1: An Introduction -- March 13, 2004
Part 2: What I miss most about Winnipeg -- March 18, 2004