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I have whips on the mind these days. Whips and writing – is there a better mix? No, I’m not trying to write my own bestselling Shades of Grey. I’m writing a novel about an English teacher in Korea who falls in love with an Asian rock star and gets mixed up with the mob. Same old, same old.
So where do the whips come in?
Now that I’m closer to editing a final version, I’ve decided that Violet, my earnest, creative and slightly flighty protagonist, needs a skill. A particular skill. One that highlights her individuality and shows her rural roots. Because Violet, I should tell you, is a country girl gone wrong – the only girl in her prairie town high school who preferred the Cure to Shania Twain, and the one time her farmer father tried to get her to kill a chicken she threw up. But, as it turns out, there is some country inside her after all.
What’s her secret cowpoke skill?
Whip cracking! Violet was the provincial Junior Whip Cracking Champion in grade seven, and, as she says, her life pretty much went downhill after that.
Now that I’ve decided what her skill is I’ve been forced to do a lot of research on whip cracking. Did you know that the sound of a whip cracking is caused when the whip moves faster than the speed of sound?
The origin of my interest in whip cracking can be blamed – like so many things – on travel. My appetite for whips was whet while on a pitchfork dinner and whip cracking experience in Saskatchewan. (Yes, I said a pitchfork dinner and whip cracking experience. Such things exist.)
A Saskatchewan whip cracking experience
My Wild West evening took place at a restaurant/event space about 30-minutes north of Saskatoon in the French-speaking community of St. Denis. (And yes, there are French speakers in Saskatchewan.) It wasn’t really a restaurant so much as a saloon – it’s called Champetre County, and not only did we eat steak fondue ie steak dipped into hot oil on a pitchfork, but the 5 time World Champion Whip Cracker, an Australian named Will Gough, showed us some fancy whipping skills even a dominatrix would envy.
(What an Australian whip cracker was doing in a French-speaking prairie Wild West experience, I’m not sure, but who’s going to argue with a man with a whip?)
The whip cracking experience, while interesting, didn’t immediately affect me. It’s not as if I went home and dreamed about bull whips, or spent hours obsessing about overhead whip cracks and underhand flicks. In fact, after the trip I pretty much forgot about whip cracking altogether, but later, when I was casting around for a skill for Violet, a braided single-tail whip sprang to mind.
The point of this all (yes, there is a point!) is to be careful what you do when you travel, because you never know what will follow you home and wedge itself into your psyche. Things such as whip cracking, rock climbing, or 16th century portraits. One buttery croissant in Paris might cause you serious weight gain as you embark on a quest for the perfect pastry, or a trip to Venice could bankrupt you after you find yourself collecting Murano glass chandeliers. So be careful. I’m just trying to help you out here. Travel doesn’t just expand the mind, each experience burrows into little corners of your grey matter and crouches there, like the Chicken Pox virus, waiting to spring up again.
Read more: There are plenty of other activities to experience in Canada. Get a start with my Things to do in Canada travel post.