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  • Vermilion Voice

Prairie Wool

I just don’t know

Sometimes there are questions in life that have no answer. I thought about this today as my husband and I drove our daughter to the Edmonton Airport. She’s attending university in BC this year. Anyway, we’d been silently cruising the highway, each of us lost in our own thoughts, when suddenly she spoke.

“Why is Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta?”

And there you have it. The perfect unanswerable question—for me, at least. I’m sure someone knows the correct response. I don’t.

After hugging our daughter tight and wishing her a safe journey, Tom and I stopped at a fast-food restaurant before heading home. As we approached the counter to place our order, I noticed a colourful poster announcing a calorie-wise milkshake with wholesome ingredients and real whipped cream. Okay, while that sounds delicious, isn’t it a contradiction? How is it possible to have a diet milkshake that, by definition, is made of ice cream, sugar, full-fat milk, and topped off with a swirly pile of whipped yumminess? Am I wrong? This has got to be one of those same unanswerable questions? 

Sometimes inanimate objects, such as the lowly windshield wiper, throws us into wild speculation. For me, this has been something I’ve never understood. Perhaps you can help. Why is it always the wiper on the driver’s side of the vehicle that messes up? Invariably, the rubber strip goes haywire, or the whole thing flies into the ditch as I’m hurtling down the highway at top speed. My passenger enjoys a great view of the road, and I’m hunkered down and sideways on the seat, trying to peer through a space the size of an M&M. (And not the bigger, candy-coated peanut size.)

Here’s another thought to ponder. Why do big online shopping companies send small items in huge boxes? My son ordered a music book not long ago and was so astounded by the packaging it arrived in that he saved it to show me. The book was 10x11 and only about 50 pages long, but it had been sent in a box that could have safely held twenty-five of them. Instead, the book lay sad and alone beneath scads of air-filled tubes to keep it from rattling around and was stamped, FRAGILE - Handle with Care on the outside. Really? Was that strictly necessary? It was a book, for heaven’s sake, not a piece of Waterford crystal.

This brings me to a pet peeve (play on words) as well as an unanswerable question. Why can I offer our cats a morsel of salmon, they sniff it with an air of revulsion, and look at me as though I’ve tried to poison them. Yet, five minutes later, I catch them busily gobbling up a clump of their own fur? What the heck! Does that make any sense at all?

Furthermore, our dog Chili, the same hound that chewed a hole in the drywall near her bed because she was bored, turned her nose up at a tidbit of leftover hamburger. Yet, later that same day was found in the pasture contentedly gnawing on a lump of frozen horse poop. Answer that one, will you!

On this nasty note, I shall end. I’m sure you have questions of your own. Let me know if you know the answers to any of mine.

Find Helen, more stories, and her books at 

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