My spell as a Boy Scout

Although the Scouting movement clearly has a textured history here in Canada, my American knowledge of it is limited to a few salient and unconnected facts:  there is, at the top of the list, the battle between Scouts Who Believe That All Scouts Must Believe, the battle between gay-positive and gay-unfriendly enclaves, the echo controversy between Berkeley’s Sea Scouts and COB’s antidiscrimination stance, and, of course, the motto–Be prepared. My trip home to Halifax was all about the latter, with me as the Scout.

My first preparation was to have a day of exercise and friendly faces and conversations to set me on a course for a good sleep aboard my coast to coast night flight. This part required a fair amount of cooperation from others, plus another dose of extraordinarily clear and warm weather on the left coast. After lunch at King Tsin with Elizabeth, I walked to Carole’s and got to meet the garden squirrel she’s been observing–and training through the judicious placement of walnuts–for several months.

Bob celebrated the recovery of his knee by driving me all the way to SFO, which takes about a hundred years (or 11 Buddy Holly songs, depending on the time keeping method one chooses). This round, my flights were not deviating from the published schedule, but I got to the gate in plenty of time to read one of the books I’d brought along, a completely disappointing E. Lynn Harris take on living the good life. The narrative’s workmanlike phrasings did, however, further prepare to unwind me for the big conk-out in the little seat aboard the jet.

When that remarkably childless and silent flight landed this morning in Boston, it truly felt as though only 10 minutes or so had passed. I never dug out any music or wanted to crack the next book, although my neck could have used a crack for the time spent unsupported while I was unconscious. It was almost pleasant to discover that the hike from our landing gate to Air Canada’s Logan gates takes a good 10 minutes and requires minor interrogations of airport employees along the way. The signage appears to be clear, but fails the blurry-morning test of traveller intelligence.

My next bit of proud preparedness was that I had managed to retain just enough American cash to purchase a cup of coffee and a bag of carrot sticks (selected as much for the oddity of the offering, which was in the company of the more typical breakfast fare of atomic muffins, squashed croissants, and yogurt cups, as any other motivation). I began a new book–a far more promising study of the sociology of sweet foods–glad that I had thought to double-pack in the reading matter department because this gate had no amenities beyond the foods listed here, so any last minute selection of eye candy was not an option.

The Halifax flight was packed, and seemed to be a combination of families on tour and American businessmen. When the customs cards were distributed, few in either group seemed to have considered bringing along any writing equipment, so I doled out pens to a variety of neighbors…whoops, that would once again be neighbours.

With the efficiency I have come to expect–but never to take for granted–of Customs at Stanfield Airport, we were duly processed and found checked luggage already delivered within less than a quarter hour of touchdown; I was home 55 minutes after landing.

Which brings me to my last bit of Scoutly planning: the songs on Elton John’s 1974 hits album proved to be in keeping with my variety of homecoming sentiments and, at some now distant-feeling point of the past weekend, I had managed to get it loaded onto my iPod.


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