The national holiday, so of course I had work to do…
It was raining.
No, it was pouring – as it had for the whole week; – on and on, with only the quickest visits of sunshine. It was the country’s sesquicentennial. Now there’s a word for writers. One hundred and fifty years since Confederation. Of course there have been people living on the land long before that, but that’s also so very typically indefinably Canadian: a young country to some, very much older to others.
July 1st had arrived with all the hoopla anticipatory to a big party, grist for the blog mill: must record what I saw, and felt, and heard.
Flags are flying all over town. Up and down residential streets on flag poles attached over front doors, placed in windows, streaming from cars. The bridge leading to downtown’s main street was dolled up with red and white ribbon rosettes. Commercial planters spilled over with red and white geraniums. The rectangular patches of bright red and white fluttered defiantly against the grey sky and sodden ground. Mud reigned in gardens too heavy to till.
muddy socks, soaked shoes and wet feet
Kelso Beach Park: a popular spot for outdoor celebrations and music. This is where the fireworks would be lit (hopefully). When I arrived with my companions to set our chairs down before going exploring, we were greeted with quagmires of muck and flooded grass from the high levels of water in the Bay. Children playing at the inflated castle and plastic climbing wall returned with muddy socks, soaked shoes and wet feet. We sallied forth with an excited 8-year old anyway. She enjoyed the aforementioned activities and, with predicted muddy socks in hand (long discarded by the owner), we headed off for hotdogs, all the while engaged in a heated debate re the pros and cons of cotton candy. Her two adult escorts remained unconvinced of its value, but she did score a snow cone after finishing her meal.
Excellent hot dogs and fries done, we made our way up to the top of the outdoor amphitheatre. Folding chairs and blankets littered the grounds. A Youth circus troop on stilts paraded by in gorgeous and fantastical costumes: horned creatures, masked princesses, mythical monsters, exotic Amazon warriors. They strutted along the soggy grass with the fearless insouciance of the young and flexible.
Smells of popcorn and coffee wafted up from the seats below, along with a faint frisson of swamp gas.
Strangers and friends wove their way by, seeking their chairs, friends, family members; greetings, smiles were shared. Good friends stopped long enough for hugs.
where we have come from
The entertainment of the day was peerless: bagpipes and the singing of the national anthem. Hats were removed, voices of a children’s choir sang out – yes, the lyrics are out of date – we sang ’em anyway. We’ll get to that, just not that night. An Aboriginal group followed– and it is right that they were there that evening. Their ancestors have been on the land much longer than 150 years and it didn’t hurt us to have that reminder. That too, is part of where we have come from. People left their seats to learn a round pow wow dance with their fellow Canadians. Migwetch.
A local troupe of fearless acrobats and fire dancers followed– I reminded myself to note their strength as they rolled and hung from a metal “maple leaf flag” up above the height of the amphitheatre …they enchanted us, riveted by their power and grace and daring. All sport bright red wigs and white leotards. All females: proud and strong, and free to pursue their art, the last act before the grand finale of fireworks. And we got them. The sky, clear and starred, relented at last, and lent us a velvety palette against which the bursting streams of colours exploded in sizzling sparkles above us.
Ever the writer, I took all this in, absorbed details, dashed a few notes off by the light of my cell phone onto the margins of the handout from the gate before I joined the horde leaving the grounds. We were celebrants – of every colour, age – and millinery persuasion: red and white hijabs, baseball caps with maple leaf logos, turbans, neon glow-stick circlets, red cowboy hats with white feathers. Oh, Canadians.
The final notation in my blog? We are not perfect; we still have work to do; but for July 1st, 2017, the first night of the next 150 years, we all came together to celebrate a very unique place: our home.
Another day in the writing life. Write about yours.