Kansas travelog

Jane Kansas-450

The stupidest thing the late, lamented Halifax Daily News ever did was to fire weekly columnist Jane Kansas over sloppy attribution of an Internet joke. Busybodies elevated the offense to plagiarism, requiring capital expiation — the irony of firing Nova Scotia’s most original writer for unoriginality lost on all concerned.

Currently on Sabbatical from Halifax, Kansas is travelling on foot from Helena, Montana, to Medicine Hat, Alberta (a 543 kilometer side-trek to visit a friend), thence from Western North Dakota to Toronto (which Google maps calculates at 2082.5 km.). Kansas likes a challenge. Along the way, she files occasional dispatches to the Dear Halifax section of The Coast website. From Friday’s entry:

Just out of Turtle Lake [North Dakota] I see the McClusky Canal and its Maintenance Roads on either side. It’s a beautiful day and I take the canal. The walking is good. In the canal are ducks which take flight at my approach and scare the big brown carp who twitch their tails on the surface and glide into the depths. Turtles plop off their sunny rocks into the water. A dear hightails it into some scrub. Handsome gold-headed birds hang out with the red-winged blackbirds. I think about the way to do things—experiencing the days moment by moment, one step at a time. Taking it as it comes—all the T-shirt wisdom that is so simple and brilliant and easily forgotten. I delight in my delightedness that life and this trip is a series of problem-solving exercises and decisions. Just what I wanted! To practice solving problems. I’m as happy as a lark. Is this trip my life or just something I’m doing? I trundle along, calling to cows I see, stopping to admire birds in marshes. I’m a one-woman life-is-what-you-make-it songbird.

What Nova Scotia journalist writes this well? Harry Thurston, maybe? Silver Donald Cameron on his best days? Harry Bruce? None of these have Jane’s knack for quirky insights combined with raw self-exposure.

Longtime Kansas fans will be relieved to know that the idyllic frolic along the McClusky Canal ends badly. A lightning storm soaks her tent and scant worldly possessions, and Jane ends up back in Turtle Lake, arriving in the rear seat of a police cruiser — not her first experience with this mode of conveyance.

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