Translated from Portuguese with Google Translation; (automatic; unrevised.)
When I received the invitation to write about Canada Day, which takes place on July 1st, I must admit that at first, it was difficult. Despite having maintained a certain relationship throughout my life with the country, through Canadian relatives, and even though I have already visited two or three cities, it would not be fair to say that, in fact, I know Canada. After all, my knowledge about their culture, history, or geography does not go far beyond superficiality. But there is something that has attracted me for years: its flag. Not wanting to go for a very nationalistic bias or anything like that, but I always found a good example of what a flag should be: simple, with striking colors and a beautiful touch of personality, which is the burgundy leaf.
As I have a Canadian family, I grew up in Brazil receiving annually awaited shipments of maple syrup. For me, it was just delicious. Pancakes that did not come with the syrup would necessarily be incomplete. This opinion, however, was not exactly shared by my childhood friends. Not that they thought it was bad when experimenting, not at all. But it was not a known or desired flavor, there was no connection. In fact, most had not even heard of it. Even I, in my childlike ignorance, despite loving it, also did not know what it was made of. It was only some time later that I discovered that it was the sap of the maple trees. That same tree that has such a beautiful and characteristic leaf and that adorns the flag.
For years that information was kept in my head, until, in 2015, at the invitation of my Canadian aunt and uncle, I went to Toronto as an international student with my cousin. At the height of adolescence and without the presence of parents, that trip was just joy. We loved every ride, every experience, and every adventure. Everything was new. We took thousands of photos, videos, and made friends, both Canadian and international students like us. But, out of all those wonderful moments, I don’t forget when I came across my first maple tree.
Neither the airport, nor the CN Tower, nor even the English language heard everywhere made me feel in Canada with as much certainty as that tree did. It was summer, so I didn’t recognize it at first (in my head they were always reddish, see if you can). But, after a cautious approach, there was no doubt. Was her. The symbol of Canada. The origin of my beloved maple. The 11-pointed leaf that, in Brazil, I would find only in dreams. There. Right in front of me. At my fingertips. At that time, it was no longer a plant organ in the terminal region of the stem responsible for photosynthesis. In fact, for me, it never was. It was proof. It was the synthesis of a whole feeling. The certainty that I was at the other pole of the Americas, in a place that I always wanted to visit. It was a representation of the joy of traveling and discovering. The personification – or rather, ‘’ leafing ’’ – of an entire trip, which I wanted to keep with me for the rest of my life. Then, when I took it home, I didn’t hesitate to put it on a blank paper and follow its contours with the first pen I saw. All the emotions of those 3 weeks could not translate better than in this sketch.
Today, 5 years later, I cherish the drawing I did that day. That’s because many of the photos ended up getting lost over time, either due to lack of memory, an error in changing cell phones or shuffling among so many others. In the same way, the contacts and friends I made have been moving away over the years. But the drawing… it doesn’t take up so much space, much less it fell apart over time. Still, it remains a source of memories and feelings of infinite storage. Just look at it and my heart floods, I travel in time and relive all the adventures of those beautiful 3 weeks in Canada.