Anne and I have just returned from a week’s “riding” vacation in the US State of Maryland. Unfortunately, the weather in and around Maryland wasn’t much better than it was in South Eastern Ontario where we live.
Even though the weather was supposed to be in the high 30’s to mid 40’s, it wasn’t. Worse: on top of the cold was the constant wind.
We trailered two of our horses with the intent of riding in the fabulous Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and in the surf on Assateague Island where the famous Assateague Wild Ponies run free.
It didn’t happen. It was far too cold and windy to ride. But we did hike Assateague Island, stand near the surf on the beach, and pet one of the Wild Ponies.
Our two horses were turned-out in a great sheltered paddock on a “horsey B&B” where they stuffed their faces and played with each other for 5 days. They were on vacation.
On the other hand, Anne and I spent most of the 5 days sight-seeing, dining and shopping. But mostly dining and shopping.
Even though the weather wasn’t what we expected, the sun did shine most of the time, and it wasn’t so cold and windy away from open spaces that we couldn’t walk around with light jackets.
What made the getaway even better were our traveling companions who also came to ride. And like us, the only riding they did was in their truck.
Take away the inclement weather, the lack of riding, the more than 12 hour drive in each direction schlepping our horse trailer, and it was a remarkably great vacation.
It was the first time we traveled with our “horsey” companions who were from our home area, so we didn’t know what to expect.
You know: sometimes you travel with people who you think you like, and then all of a sudden you realize they aren’t exactly your cup of tea. But by then, the vacation is all but ruined.
In this case, it wasn’t like that at all. Our traveling friends helped make the vacation a great success.
What added to the way we all got along were our differences. One of the couples which we knew mostly in passing were dairy and pig farmers whose commonality with us, is in their love for riding.
The other couple who we know very well; own and operate a substantial horse business where they breed horses, teach riding, board horses, buy and sell horses, operate a horse summer-camp for children and grow hay for horses.
And they are all French speaking.
We had an enormous volume of things to talk about.
Anne and I wanted to know more about what it took to run an animal farm. We were interested in the dairy quota system and in what farmers think about politically and socially compared to city-folk.
The farmers wanted to know about advertising, creative writing, commercials, how deals are put together, and what motivates city-slickers like Anne and myself.
Two of the French speakers were transplanted Quebecers. Two of them were French Ontarians. All of them knew who I was and what I did in Quebec concerning language laws.
The wife of the animal farmer was an ex-Quebecer who is somewhat of a French language nationalist, while the others were just very comfortable in their own skin. And not so remarkably, everyone spoke the language of their choice.
Language never became an issue or a topic of discussion.
Most interesting was the choice of my language, especially in one circumstance where we wanted to bargain-down the price of a leather coat. Between us, we spoke in French to establish our strategy.
Having such a good time with our traveling companions made me feel somewhat guilty because of what I feel compelled to do about the new language sign-law that establishes “language police” to make certain there will be no new English Only Signs posted in the mostly French speaking town of Clarence/Rockland Ontario.
This trip was a huge success for reasons I didn’t count on. We had a lot of fun with people of an entirely different culture (in more ways than one) whom we might otherwise never have had the chance to know.
And now that it’s over, I just hope the others will understand that my actions on language RIGHTS will be based not on the use of language, but on the RIGHT Of CHOICE.
It would be a pity if my position on Freedom Of Choice would keep us from enjoying more time together in the future. But when one group tries to impose their thoughts, culture and language on others, that is what inevitably happens.
Just look at the basket-case we call Quebec.