Last weekend was the Ohio Environmental Food and Farm annual conference in Granville, Ohio, a liberal arts college town of fewer than 3000 souls. Nola was attending talks by radical, organic farmers, spouting such polemics as, “Why does the government think a Hostess Twinkee is safer for our children to eat than fresh milk from a cow?”. They were sharing secrets to skirting the draconian laws against transporting raw milk across state lines. Did you know that you cannot sell raw milk products in this country as food? However you can sell it as fish bait by the pound (Fish Bait Colby anyone?).
It was Valentine’s weekend, so I drove down the next day, Saturday, with the children, and we stayed at an very nice and expensive inn and had a very tasty and expensive meal with our very tired and bored children. Then on Sunday, while Nola was learning how to make 6 figures raising organic, market gardens, I was somewhere down the highway in Columbus with the children, searching for a toy train expo I vaguely remembered reading about on the internet before I left Indiana. I did not know where to find it. For the sake of $20/month, my cell phone could access the internet, but I’m too cheap for a service I would use twice a year. Instead, I was relying on vague memory and the kindness of strangers. We did not have much success.
And then we passed a sign for a Tim Horton’s.
Which was Very Exciting for a Canadaphile such as myself.
Tim Horton’s is a chain of doughnut shops (and field police stations) all across Canada that I had read about. I did not know they had expanded to the United States. Being a connoisseur of homemade cake doughnuts, I had always wanted to try one, and there it was with time to spare. For the full experience, we ignored the drive-through and parked in the empty lot. The children crunched the dessicated piles of snow in the parking lot under foot, and I ushered them through the glass doors.
How sad, then, to find the meager, synthetic, doughnut-like objects in the display case . My romantic idea that doughnuts from Canada would be hearty, over-sized fuel for surviving frigid winters evaporated in the plastic shiny glare of pastries designed by a corporate efficiency expert. Oh Canada! Are you so insecure that you must copy your southern neighbor in this too?
Rose and Samuel went straight for the frosted ones with neon green and pink sprinkles. The counter help waited patiently with smiles, and having taken their time, I was too embarrassed to back out (see? wouldn’t I make a good Canadian?). I got the children what they wanted and ordered a plain cake doughnut for myself. On a whim, I mentioned our train expo dilemma, and the woman behind the counter was kind enough to look up the event on the internet for me.
Later, sitting at the Formica tables, I watched my children press a spilled, green sprinkle on each finger tip and lick them off one by one. I thought of Dawn, half an hour away, surrounded by a few hundred organic farmers, all plotting the demise of the very genetically modified organisms I was eating, and how very much more she would have enjoyed rubbing the sweet, drywall-texture crumbs off her teeth with her tongue.