Sunday, 26 June 2011

Blame it on the rain

Grandpa is so confusing!

Track practice was cancelled most of this week because of the rain, so yesterday I went over to my friend Sophie’s house to wait for my Dad.  And maybe I was a bit grumpy. But can you blame me? The only kilometers I’d tracked lately were on Mom’s beat-up treadmill.

Sophie’s Mom tried to cheer me up. She set a plate of home made cookies in front of me and smiled. “Well, at least the farmers will be happy,” she said, pointing to the kitchen window that was streaked with water.

I hadn’t thought of that. Last year Grandpa complained a lot about the weather – too much heat will dry the crops out and stunt their growth, he said. I knew all about that. The city sometimes regulates our water during peak summer hours, which means Mom has to be strategic about when she waters her vegetable and flower gardens.

So last night, I called Grandpa. I opened my bedroom window and held the phone up to the air. “Do you hear that? That’s the sound of rain,” I practically shouted over the wind. My arm was wet all the way up my wrist.

“I hear it,” Grandpa said, but he didn’t sound happy at all.

“Isn’t that good for your canola?”

Turns out, it may not be. Grandpa says he’s not growing rice, and too much rain can rot the crop, and if the seeds haven’t had a chance to germinate, they may not even sprout at all this year!

Yeesh. Now I know what people talk about when they say farmers are never happy about the weather.

Hey, I gotta jet. I’m pretty sure I see the sun poking from behind the clouds. I’m going to get my run in before the forecasted thundershower hits.

- Chase Superman Duffy 

Friday, 17 June 2011

That's not a canola field

“That’s not a canola field.”

Boy, when I was younger, I heard that all the time from my Grandpa. We’d drive by these giant fields on the way to his farm, and I’d point to the yellow flowers and say, “Look at that canola field, Grandpa!”

Turns out they were dandelions.

The same weeds I used to pick for my Mom because I thought they were “pretty flowers.” * shrug *

It’s been a few years since I mistook dandelions for canola (and not just because the weeds burst in early spring and canola blooms in July), but as the potatoes and peas in Grandma’s start sprouting, I can’t help but get excited. It won’t be long before the Alberta landscape becomes a checkerboard of canola fields…

And if you’re travelling in southern Alberta you might see another yellow crop - mustard! 

So how do you tell the difference?

Good question.

Grandpa says it isn’t easy. The flowers on a canola plant are a little bigger and a paler yellow, while mustard seeds are small and a slightly darker in colour.  Honestly? I think I’d need to hold them side by side to really know the difference, and even then I’m not sure I’d be able to tell you which one is the canola plant…

But Canada’s known for both – since most of the mustard seed goes to make Dijon mustard in France and hot dog mustard (my favourite!) in the US, and the canola goes all over the world…

Luckily, Grandpa never gets tired of answering these questions for me.

Gotta jet!

- Chase Superman Duffy

PS - 15 sleeps until WordsWorth! STILL not registered? Better hurry!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Faster than a speeding...biodiesel car?

A couple of weeks ago, Grandpa took me to the drag races in Medicine Hat.

I’ve never been to the car races before, but I think I’m hooked. I used to think I was fast (Superman fast)… but wow – some of those cars can really move.

Like the biodiesel jet funny car fueled by canola. I’m not kidding! Grandpa says the car is one of a kind. When it takes off, flames shoot out the back end, like a rocket. The stands literally shake from the sound it makes. Boom, boom, boom!

It was unbelievable. I was scared to blink in case I missed it.

Now that’s the kind of speed I need to beat “Lightening” and the Red Head on the track this year.

Grandma tells me I’m already on my way – just by adding two teaspoons of canola oil to my Berry Smoothie. She says “fat” is a powerhouse of energy. And none of those trans fats, like I’m sure my friends and I eat when we buy one of those packages of cream-filled cookies that we share. I should have known she’d say that.

Maybe it’s time for me to think about how else I can fuel my body for prime speed. Hmmm…sounds like a summer project.

Gotta jet – like a canola biodiesel jet car!

-    Chase Superman Duffy

Pssst. Going to WordsWorth? I’ll be there…along with the three winners of the Martyn Godfrey Young Writers Award.  There’s still time to register…but hurry! WordsWorth is definitely a camp worth writing home about.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Didn't win but still a winner

I didn’t win the Martyn Godfrey Young Writers’ Award.

The competition was pretty steep. I heard they had more than 150 submissions – and a lot of good ones!

I’m still proud of my story, though.

I guess my parents are, too, since they’re sending me to WordsWorth! That’s right, I’m heading to camp this summer for a week of writing and hanging out with some amazing Albertan talent.

Seriously, check out this blog – - and read about the awesome instructors that I’ll be working with in Bragg Creek. I hear there are dozens of walking or running trails at Kamp Kiwanis, too.

How perfect is that? Writing AND running – at WordsWorth.

Are you going?

If you haven’t registered yet, you’d better hurry! The camps are filling up.

Gotta jet.

-       Chase Superman Duffy

P.S. - Major congratulations to Caileigh Reid of Grande Prairie, Alena Leonova of Calgary and Laura E. Stacey of Bowden. See you at camp, girls.

P.P.S. – To register for camp, head to the Young Alberta Book Society Website at Click on the WordsWorth links and download the registration form.