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Friday, March 13, 2009

Courtesy of Netflix, I’m currently watching Due South, a t.v. series from the early 90’s. It revolves around the adventures of a police odd couple, a Mountie (descended about equally from Dudley-Do-Right and Sgt. Preston) and a cynical, not-so-by-the-book Chicago Detective. The Mountie, Constable Benton Frazer, has a wolf companion, named Diefenbaker, after a long ago Canadian P.M. The wolf sleeps in his bed, while Frazier sleeps in a pristine boyscout bed-roll, on the floor. It’s old time television with happy-endings, clearly never meant to be taken too seriously, a kind of "Monk" with Canadian v. American jokes. Most episodes are witty, with a wry, dry humor.

The opening shot of Constable Frazier marching into Chicago—walking beside the roaring interstate, with backpack and wolf—is genuinely poignant . He’s the classic stranger in a strange land. It’s uplifting to enter--if only through the suspension of belief —a reality where honesty, knowledge, industry, and optimism carry the day, but there’s another reason, I think.

My mother loved this series and long ago begged me to watch it, but I refused. This had to do with me and her and her preference, long established, for dogs over people. "Due South" had that wolf, so I figured it was just Mom being obsessive about canines, as usual. At her best, Mom was Auntie Mame—at her worst, well, let’s just not go there.

Anyhow, some time around Christmas, I began to watch. At first finding the show appeared to be the result of searching for Paul Gross, after loving his work in the award winning t.v. series, “Slings & Arrows.” As I watched, however, a memory returned, of Mom talking about "Due South" and me saying “Yes, sure I’ll watch,” but never doing so. Mom’s been gone for a few years now, (but always, in the way of mothers, around) so I wasn’t all that surprised by the sudden appearance of this “coincidence.”

I’ve now watched all of "Due South" and enjoyed it thoroughly. (It's a break from the news!) I hope Mom has enjoyed sharing it with me, at last. I find that even the darn wolf has become a thing of beauty. I can hear Mom saying that he’s “a lovely, smart boy, and probably a wolf-husky mix,” like the one her best friend at the nursing home, a proud member of the Mohawk Nation, often brought to visit.

This Christmas has been a time of reconciliation, for letting go of old injuries. Hopefully, Mom can move on now, beyond the “borderlands.” Meanwhile, I find myself imagining that the pure-hearted Constable Frazier is now returned to his ice-bound arboreal forest, and that he, the wolf—and perhaps some hearty frontier woman--will live happily ever after.