No thing.

Today someone in my program stated that, other than Vancouver, there’s nothing in Western Canada.

We were discussing Australia, him having spent four years there, and how, except for Perth, most of the population lives in the East. “Like Canada,” he said, and then articulated that opening line up there.

“You realize you’re talking to a Western Canadian, right?” I said, with, I’ll admit, a bit of incredulity.

He’s right, though. And that’s exactly what’s great about it. I mean, look at it.

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There’s nothing there.

Nothing, that is, if you’re looking for flash and show, cultural diversity, more forms of entertainment than are even possible to know are going on in any given moment, parks full of revelers, festival after festival of wading through massive crowds, watching free shows by world-renowned artists and on and on (and on).

Just look at it.

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I’m catapulted back to my front row seat—third from the right—Mr. Vuch’s grade 10 Social Studies class. Learning about the National Energy Program. The anger it evoked from the West (all seven of its citizens) and the alienation felt by that half of the country, the one flung on the other side of the vast, flat plains.

The East is different than the West.

I realized this in Maine with its 150-year-old buildings—built when Lethbridge was just a twinkle in her colonialist parent’s eyes—but now I’m in densely populated Eastern Canada and it’s even more pronounced. The differences that is.

How there’s just more here.

How it makes the West seem empty, like nothing. No thing.

No things, just vast and open limitless space.

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Gratitude now, for that. For bike rides with the ever-faithful Smokey the black lab (who would always get overexcited and run a half-mile ahead of me and I would turn back for home before ever catching up to her), gratitude for wind and circling hawks and unobscured sunsets. For wind-tangled prairie grass and mountains that leapt out of flat, bald prairie.

Gratitude for space.

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