A colleague at work confided that Canada Day is his absolute favourite holiday, since he is not religious.
"How do you observe?" I asked him.
"Well, I usually go down to the Leg grounds for the pancake breakfast (which is a great example of the cultural mosaic at work by the way, since it is hosted by the Ismaili Muslim community, and flapjacks are not necessarily a part of the traditional middle eastern experience), and I also like to see the new Canadian citizens get sworn in."
"That's awesome!" I said.
"Yeah, I love the look on their faces," he continued, "It's like they've won the lottery because, well, they kind of have."
Who better than new Canadians to remind us of the awesome country we live in? Sure, it's a country like a lot of others, and one with its own fair share of idiosyncrasies, challenges and just flat-out problems, but there is nowhere else quite like it, and nowhere I'd rather raise my family.
This year our family ended up heading out to Leduc for Canada Day, the city I grew up in (although it was a town for most of my childhood), and the place where my sister recently purchased a house.
Since she has a much larger and neater backyard than we do, I was looking forward to putting up the badminton net, drinking a Neapolean (an Alley Kat Stout that, hand to God, tastes like Neapolitan ice cream) and perhaps throwing around the Nerf football with my daughters a bit. I hadn't given too much thought about actual observances; I mean, since I am a Canadian, isn't anything I do on this holiday pretty much a de facto observance?
At any rate, we did end up on Main Street to watch the parade, which I found surprisingly enjoyable. There were not a whole lot of floats, but I like to watch the Legion Colour Guard followed by the Mounties, and my parents also drove a scooter wearing their Legion uniforms, which was a big thrill to Fenya and Glory.
There were a number of really cool vintage cars, and a couple of very old oil-burning tractors which appealed to the history buff in me, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how much enjoyment I still get from being in close proximity to a shiny fire engine with its lights and siren going. One engine had a motto painted upon the glass over the side door which read, "Everyone comes home" in script, which I found peculiarly moving for such a simple sentiment. Still, a good sentiment hardly needs complexity, right?
Retiring to the backyard after the parade, we played a little badminton until the wind made it impractical, played some catch, and my mum brought a game called Ladderball which involves throwing tiny bolas at a set of coloured ladder rungs. It's a simple enough game once you get the fundamentals of throwing down, but aI have to tell you, the first time you snag the target with a bola and the balls pass each other a couple of times until they have completely wrapped around the rung, you totally feel like Batman. "Why do cops waste their time with batons when they could carry these" I thought to myself.
By the time we had cooked some smokies on Tara's firepit, my mid-day triple-shot frappucino had worn off and I was feeling pretty fatigued, but I was not about to be the party-pooper, and I joined everyone at the ball diamond by the Leduc Recreation Centre (which I grew up knowing as the Black Gold Centre) for a free rock concert and fireworks display.
I texted a couple of people my location and the fact that I was watching 80s rockers Harlequin warm up the crowd for Darby Mills and The Headpins, and was delighted when Island Mike replied that he was on a Parksville beach listening to Trooper at the same time. Retro night indeed.
To be frank, I probably like slightly more Harlequin songs than Headpins songs, but I would not really call myself a fan of either band. Harlequin is clearly one of those bands that is happy and grateful to be able to hit the road and play, but the lead vocalist has a hard time reaching the pitch of his heyday, and occasionally sounded like a karaoke singer stepping outside his range.
Darby Mills, on the other hand, sounds even better than she did in her heyday. Her voice has gotten smoother and smokier, although she is no torch singer. (The hats on the merch table read "Headpins: 30 Years of Loud".) And for a lady who just turned 50, she looks great as well, and I don't just mean her figure (which even my sister commented on as being stupendous), but very fit, which makes sense as it turns out that she teaches tae kwon do when she isn't touring.
The fireworks display which wrapped up the night was wonderful. I mean, even a small fireworks show is fun, and this one ran for about a quarter hour and had a great variety of effects.
It made for a long and somewhat tiring day, and the following day at work was a little brutal, but I was still glad I relented and didn't end the evening prematurely. All in all, one of the better Canada Days I can remember, spent with my family in the place I grew up. What could be more Canadian than that?