Oh Canada / Not Canada!
Not Canada, but you can see a stereotypical resemblance, yes? There's even what could be a maple tree turning red, nestling amongst the firs of the wild north, towards the bottom right. This is a section of Parkanaur, a public park three miles outside Dungannon, County Tyrone, in the countryside. When I was a kid, I walked here a lot with my three brothers and our dog. Almost every Sunday for some years, the four of us walking mostly in silence, except to rein in the dog from passing strangers, usually also walking with dogs.
I realized on a recent visit back to Parkanaur that I consciously or subconsciously divided sections of the park into an imagined map, half of North America, half of a sort of fairy underworld based on Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree.
This remembering made me think of how I have continued to do this throughout my life. There are parts of Manhattan which in my mind fill the gap in a mental topography which is part County Tyrone, part elsewhere, part imagined world. Thus, Washington Heights has always been a sort of mysterious 'top of the tree/top of the island' land unto itself.
In Parkanaur, this section of the park (above) was an optional extra to the already-long walk which, by the time we reached 'Canada,' was actually by the car park. If time or weather permitted, we'd walk through the fir trees and I would think of my uncles, who had emigrated to Ontario in 1980, of John Buchan's last thriller, Sick Heart River, set in the Yukon territories, and imagine we were walking in the month or two of snow-free summer, way up north.
Does anyone else do this?