Camouflage

Hunting season has started. The park is just an hour and a half from Michigan, and the Americans have started their winter migration. They are easily spotted because they love camouflage. The Canadians disdain them: Michigan Militia, they think, doing target practice on crown soil.

Tourists! How in the world did they get here? Picturesque as the place was, it held nothing to appeal to the Baedecker spirit.

“The North Star is not here; it is an outrage!”
He uttered various threats.
   “I thought the North Star was running away south around the Perry Sound region,” I suggested.
   “Yes, but she was to begin to-day, June 16, to make this connection.” He produced a railroad folder. “It’s in this,” he continued.
   “Did you go by that thing?” I marveled.
   “Why, of course,” said he.
   “I forgot you were an American,” said I, “You’re in Canada now.”
He looked his bewilderment, so I hunted up Dick. I detailed the situation. “He doesn’t know the race.” I concluded. “Soon he will be trying to get information out of the agent. Let’s be on hand.”

–Stewart Edward White, _The Forest_, 1903.

Hunting season has started. The park is just an hour and a half from Michigan, and the Americans have started their winter migration. They are easily spotted because they love camouflage. The Canadians disdain them: Michigan Militia, Uncle Norm’s boys, they say, doing target practice on crown soil.

I remember when American tour groups barreled into Limerick from nearby Shannon airport. Ireland was poor in the Eighties and while we welcomed them, we suffered resentment just because we lacked their freedom to swoop into another country on a magic dollar carpet. We assumed they were all rich, but I realize now they were mostly well-meaning retired midwesterners who had probably saved for the pilgrimage. They wore their own idea of camouflage to hunt their roots: godawful kelly-green crimplene flares and tartan caps. They were loud, large, and childlike, and I still have difficulty convincing some Irish friends that other varieties of American exist.

Northern Ontario is not wealthy, and I sense the locals feel the same as we did then. They can’t head south and get a dollar thirty for their buck. The tourists have bigger, flashier cars and gear, and this sting is relieved only by traded satire. Ranger Sam reported a Sunday sighting of a Ford Explorer heading north, completely painted camouflage including the windows, with the licence plate BOWHUNTER. This prompted the story of a legendary Lake Superior ranger who bore no love for our Michigan neighbours. Every autumn he took great pleasure in his frequent trips to the beer store, where hunters in full gear would stagger out with boxes of suds. He would cross the parking lot to shoulder the guy, a solid whomp, followed with a stream of folksy Canadian apology:
  “Whoa, sore-y, sore-y, didn’t see you there, eh?” Then, brushing his victim’s sleeve, he would continue in wonder: “Hey! That camo really works!”

An asshole. Still, my kind of asshole.