War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

that issue

I have a friend up in the Arctic with the army right now. she’s freezing her *ss off alongside the battalion “standing on guard for thee o Canada”. literally. we’re talking buckets and bags and strange little devices bought in mountaineering shops to help women out in “delicate” situations (I had one to use in LAVs thanks to the recommendation of a woman who spent 6 weeks with the Btn. in 2006 outside the wire). so in solidarity to my pal, I’ve written that I’m going to keep the bathroom window open and the toilet seat up for the entire month she’s posted in the frozen north (-42 celcius)… not that there’s heat in the bathroom here anyway. but it’s the least I can do. keep her laughing.

but I know she’ll adjust. they all will. because that’s the nature of the Canadian infantry. the more you throw at them, in this case ice, wind, snow, frostbite etc., the more they dig in, the more determined. sure they’ll bitch but that’s what keeps them going. it’s when they stop you get worried.

I remember a Sgt. Major telling me about how one New Year’s Eve he was out on an Ex. somewhere, they were lying in a trench and it was pouring rain (must have been the west coast). mud everywhere. he looked down the line at the boys on one side of him, then the boys at the other side of him, and they were all so GD miserable they started laughing. and you know what, he tells the story as if it was one of the best NYear’s eves he’s ever had, and I’m sure when he gets together with his friends from that era that they all laugh and remember it fondly.

I think it’s the adaptability in these people that I admire. less than 2 years ago they were in the dust and sand and heat and rain and mud and danger of Afghanistan. now they’re fighting that greater foe, nature. and I know that as Canadians that they’ll have it down to a fine art (buckets aside). because though infantry LOVE to test themselves, love to rise to the challenge, they also LOVE to be comfortable and will come up with incredibly ingenious ways of doing so.

I’ll never forget the dirty dozen at WWx (there were 10 of them but 2 of them had such stinky feet that the other 8 said they stunk for 2 more guys… thus the dirty dozen). they were the ones who made me a coffee cup from a plastic water bottle and gun tape (I still have it). and one of them had made a hammock from a coyote cover (like a big tarp) and paracord. so while the rest of the dozen (i.e., the other 9) slept on the hard ground, this guy slept like a baby.

a few days ago I walked by one of those Occupy tent cities erected outside a cathedral. it was a complete shitshow. broken furniture. broken pallets. mud. garbage. torn tents. the turf completely destroyed. awhile back they had an outhouse thingy that looked right out of Dog Patch installed against the medieval cathedral walls (which lent it a bit of authenticity actually, as I believe medieval cathedrals had all sorts of markets etc. next to them). but I noticed the rocket had been removed.

and I’ve not taken a pro or against stance on the Occupy movement because I tend to want to know a subject before I make a statement and I honestly don’t know what they are about (though I’ve tried talking to them several times and asked loads of questions). anyway, I couldn’t help but think that they should have had someone who knows how to run a clean, organized camp. someone like a certain Sgt. Major I know. someone whose favourite line is “Things are going to get Draconian here if they don’t start shaping up” (always tongue in cheek but one always knows there is some truth in what he says and that he is capable of being Draconian). but something tells me that Occupy wouldn’t want him, and that he wouldn’t want Occupy (“you know PL” he said to me, “the one thing I really hate is people who lie around doing nothing”). still, it’s rather an interesting thought. isn’t it. Sgt. Major and Occupy.

but I digress.

anyway O Canada, it’s rather good to know that we’re keeping our northern chops alive and well (and yes, the Rangers do all year round). even if my dear friend is freezing her *ss of in the meantime.

so in solidarity Barb. I’m going to up the ante. baby wipes in the freezer.

is that TMI?!!!

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled that issue. It was posted here on February 10, 2012.


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