Friday, September 7, 2007

Mossy's Backpackers #3

“So how did you find the three days of vineyard work? I haven’t seen too much of you since Sunday night.”

“Yeah, I’ve been crashing early this week,” Caitlin replied. “Those early starts combined with all that fresh air just knocks me right out. But it was alright. Thinning grapes isn’t exactly my idea of a good time though, so I’m glad to be done with it.”

“Just be glad you weren’t working with the young plants,” Max told her. “A couple weeks back I pitched in for two days because one of the growers Mossy is friends with had a bit of an emergency. My knees and lower back have never been so sore.”

“Oh bloody hell!” Caitlin exclaimed. “There were a couple rows of those at the lot we were at yesterday. They barely came up to my shins!”

“Yup. Crouched down in front of your first plant at seven a.m. Spend a minute or two saving it from itself. Up you get, over to the next one and back down you go. Repeat for nine hours. I felt like a ninety year old man by the end of the second day.”

“No wonder it’s so easy to find work around here. Only backpackers are dumb and desperate enough to do this crap. I guess you and I have got the posh jobs ‘round these parts!”

“Yeah, other than the toilets this job is pretty sweet.”

“Well from what I’ve heard,” Caitlin said with a little laugh, “I won’t have to worry too much about that.”

Max stuck his tongue out at her. He always figured if you can’t beat ‘em, stick your tongue out at ‘em.

“So have you stayed at a Wo’ Ho’ before?” he asked, steering the conversation away from his lacking card skills.

“A woe hoe?” she asked, an utterly confused look on her face.

“Yeah, a Working Hostel.”

“You’re joking. People don’t actually call them that!”

“Sure they do. Ask anybody.”

“Please,” Mossy called out from the other end of the hostel, “For the love of all that is good and holy, do not believe a word that comes out of Max’s mouth!”

“Hey Mossy?” Max yelled back. “Hurry up and grow old and lose your bloody hearing already!”

“Do you reckon he actually heard us? Or,” Caitlin straightened up and looked at him shrewdly, “Do you think that was just a bit of well-timed general advice?”

“I reckon he was just being a cheeky bastard,” Max muttered.

“General advice it is then,” Caitlin said with a smile and returned to watering the plants.

“Oh, speaking of which,” Max called over his shoulder as he got back to dusting the bookshelf, “You know Tim, the American…”

“The Texan, right.”

“Whatever. Can you imagine if we did that? ‘Hi, I’m Max and I’m a British Columbian!”

“It would be even worse for people from P.E.I.” she replied with a big smile.

“True enough. But we digress. So, the Yank that checked in yesterday? I may have been telling him… um, less than factual things about our home and native land.”

“You haven’t!”

“It’s just something I do every now and again to keep things interesting. Just play along if you want a good laugh, I’ll set him straight in a couple days. He seems like a good guy, I think he’ll take it pretty well.”

“I’m not so sure about this Max…”

“Trust me. Just wait ‘till you try it. Ignorance truly can be bliss.”

* * * * *

Max raised his eyes from the latest edition of National Geographic to see Tim stroll through the front door. He looked at Caitlin sprawled on the couch opposite him with a grin, which she returned with a concerned expression. He gave her a reassuring wink and turned to greet his target.

“Howdy Texas, how’d apple picking go today?”

“Howdy Canada,” Tim drawled back, exaggerating his southern twang for Max’s benefit (he knew Max thought it was just the greatest accent ever). “Nice hot day for it and Anton treated us to ice cream at lunch.”

“Sweet as, he’s a really good guy, eh?” Max returned, tacking on the Canadianism for Tim’s amusement (he may not know much about Canada or her residents, but he sure knew how they were supposed to talk – he was still getting over the fact that neither Max nor Caitlin had a French accent). “Come have a seat, we’ve got fresh, cold lemonade over here.”

“Thanks mate!” Tim said as he dropped into the bean bag chair situated at the end of the two couches. Max was reasonably certain that Tim had picked up “mate” from himself and was a little worried the lanky Texan thought it was another Canadianism.

“So Caitlin,” Tim began while pouring himself a second glass. “Does your family have a winter igloo too?”

Then again, “mate” wouldn’t be the worst of his cultural crimes at this point.

“I’m sorry?” Caitlin replied, obviously struggling to keep a straight face already.

“You know,” Max intervened, “It’s like the opposite of a summer cabin. I was telling Tim last night about my family’s winter igloo – great spot, right on the Artic Ocean. We keep a couple polar bears in the backyard.”

Caitlin looked at Max with a mixture of horror and disbelief, slowing shaking her head from side to side. Uh oh, he thought, if she doesn’t like that one she will definitely not approve of…

“No?” Tim continued, completely misinterpreting her head shake. “Well have you at least taken part in the Annual Baby Seal Hunt?”


Ah, hell.

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