Last weekend, I trekked to the Nation's Capital and had more than a jolly time roaming through the beautiful old streets, admiring the neo-gothic architecture and hitting every museum in sight. I even had a Beaver Tail---one of those popular pastries they sell in Old Quebec and along the canal in ice skating season.
The National War Museum was my favourite. It took five hours for me to get it done properly. The exhibits on the 1st and 2nd World Wars respectively and the spitfires ( made me think of Andrew Foyle ) were wonderful and moving....especially as last weekend was Remembrance Day. It was also moving to see so many veterans there, roaming through with poppies willing to answer questions. And yet, thought I, how surreal to see your life experiences encased in glass, on display for all to see; mummified like a dinosaur; children playing through a plastic "trench" made up with mud and bodies, a soldier's boot skimming the top.
My passion for 18/19th Century Canadian history was well-founded in my viewing of General Issac Brock's tunic, rescued from the Battle of Queenston Heights and encased with bullet hole in chest for all to see. The fatal wound that made Brock a hero was now, in part, in front of me.
Dear god, I am a nerd.
I loved roaming about the city, ducking through the cobblestoned alleys, hearing the bells toll at Parliament in the mid-dusk and gaping over the spanse of the beautiful Rideau ( which is now a UNESCO world heritage site). It is a great city to find hidden bookstores in, old churches and statues and beautiful scaling hills.
On Sunday morning, for the first time ever, I was able to go to the Cenotaph in the Nation's capital for Remembrance Day. My Opa ( I am Dutch) was a veteran of WWII and my Oma was a warbride from Holland. While he was still alive, I would soak up the stories Opa would tell me of the War---my mind not truly grasping the term "stretcher-bearer." He loved Remembrance Day as he would think of his fallen brother and colleagues and ( being as musical as he was ) enjoy the trumpets and the bagpipes.
The bagpipes : those eerie, mournful instruments that seem so suited for funeral recession, were ( according to my grandfather) a symbol of hope ---they meant reinforcements were coming to the war front.
It was moving to see thousands of Canadians line the streets near Parliament Hill all with poppies and proudly singing O Canada and God Save the Queen in unison in both French and English. I loved the planes and the canons and the moment of silence and, of course, the chilling In Flander's Fields.
SHORT RANT: I dont't think I have ever heard "In Flander's Fields" recited properly. I am a huge fan of the young medical man from Guelph, Ont who gained worldwide recognition not only for his heroism, but for his harrowing turn of phrase. But, the poem only works to full impact if the pauses and stops he so carefully laid out in his phrasing are properly rendered by spoken voice. Like the Lord's Prayer and the National Anthem, everyone knows it by heart and mumbles accordingly through the motions. I have a feeling were people to place the poem in front of them and read it as he intended, we might all be a little more moved than usual. END RANT
And, of course, my favourite part of the ceremony occurs when the veterans march by to a Standing Ovation. In uniform, with medals on display, we recognize the sacrifice they made more than half a century ago and praise their endurance while coldly remembering the impact that faraway war must still have on their lives.
Now on to other things like Inspector Lynley Series 5
I gave up on the books, so I am happy to indulge in the liberties taken with the screenwriting. Lynley had great hair ( as did Havers) we are on our third Helen and the Bentley is shiny and intact. The chemistry between Nat Parker and Sharon Small is palpably wonderful.
Now, I am off to go bookshopping and to spend the afternoon watching the Helen Mirren Elizabeth I with my friend Kat.
On Sunday, I might venture to see Love in the Time of Cholera.