My wife and I recently spent six weeks visiting family in Victoria, B.C. and Adelaide, Australia. It was a wonderful extended holiday.
You may ask, “Why leave sunny Australia so soon and return to cold Saskatchewan?”
Well it is said the best time to visit Australia is September/October. In November/December the temperature can rise to plus 40 degrees with high, sticky humidity. Neither of us likes really hot weather. Besides we enjoy our winter and I enjoy curling. (Also, without realizing it, we left before the fires now raging in Australia were any real threat.)
Our daughter, son in law, and nine year old grandson live in Adelaide. We only get to see our grandson about every two years. So when we go, we try to engage with him as much as possible. His name is Max – hence the title of this article - ‘Maxing out with Max.’
Australia is remarkably different from our Saskatchewan. “Well duh!” you might say.
Certainly the weather is different. Australia has its seasons but they are not marked by the striking differences our seasons present. Also, Australian sports differ from ours. Oh yes they like baseball – but more the softball version – hardball is not that popular. Cricket is definitely a national sport – other than isolated examples of that sport, we in Canada know very little about the game. Those of you who might have played ‘Can Can’ in your youth would grasp the essence of cricket. Oh by the way, I became most interested in cricket while in Australia, but I find it perplexing that my Canadian friends are reluctant to sit through an explanation of the game or visit me to watch the DVD I brought home that has six hours of cricket on it – they all seem to be busy with other obligations when I invite them to a day of fine viewing.
My grandson and my Australian son-in-law are ardent soccer fans. My grandson’s team won their league championship while we were there and my son-in-law is the head coach of his club’s adult first team. So we obviously became much more knowledgeable re: soccer.
Australians like football, but Aussie Rules Football differs greatly from our version of the game. We were initiated into Aussie Rules during our visit. In fact we watched their Aussie version of our ‘Grey Cup’ before we left Australia. We were not entirely sure what we were watching but we did enjoy the rudiments of the game.
But not all my Canadian sports bias went without recognition while we were in the Land Down Under.
My grandson had read a hockey book in his school. He wanted to know if I had ever heard of a hockey player called The Rocket. Well before I stopped talking, my grandson knew a great deal about Maurice, The Rocket, Richard and his Detroit Red Wings nemesis Gordie, Mr. Elbows, Howe.
Much to my pleasure, my grandson asked me to teach him some Grid Iron – the Aussie name for North American Football. So off we went to purchase a smaller sized football and spent two afternoons on the rudiments of passing and catching CFL style.
Obviously my CFL bias did not impress my nine year old protege. After only six hours of tutoring, he informed me he was ready to become the Quarterback for the New England Patriots. - Move over Tom Brady!
My time with Max, however, went beyond sports. He loves the Pokimons. We spent hours out with his mother’s cell phone roaming his Adelaide suburb Pokimon hunting. I, with my computer gaming illiteracy, had very little comprehension of what we were doing. My deficiency was further exacerbated by my difficulty understanding what Max, with his strong Aussie accent, was trying to explain to his non Pokimon minded grandpa. All of these barriers were soon nothing to me when Max, as we ended our two hour Pokimon hunt, turned to me, wrapped his arms around me, and said, “Thanks Grandpa.”
Yes, Australia was different, its colloquialisms confusing( fair dinkum), its 90% sunny skies, its fauna (Kangaroos and Koalas), its ever present ‘Locals’ (Pubs) in every neighbourhood, its multitude of ethnic eateries, and its penchant for seemingly never ending game shows on the ‘Telly’, but it is where my daughter, son-in-law, and their red headed son, our grandson, Max live, and it is where a part of Fay and my heart will always be.
It is good to be home! But the Land Down Under will always be:
‘A bit of alright’