Thursday, August 2, 2007

Souvenirs

Whenever I unpack, I discover I've brought home a new awareness. That's my favorite souvenir.

I'd just never thought about the people that live in Ottawa before. They ice skate to work down the Rideau Canal in the winter, and lots of them speak French. It's funny to think they've been living there all along, since the 1600's, and they have parents and problems, and lives and loves and I didn't even pay attention.

Ottawa is Canada's capitol city and there are magnificent parliament buildings built right on the river. We stayed in an elegant hotel in the center (or centre) of town, and as we were settling in, we heard bagpipes. From our window we watched a brass band leading a regiment of red-coated, black-hatted soldiers down the street for the changing of the guard. This happens twice a day!

High Tea is served every afternoon in our hotel. We had cranberry scones with Devonshire cream, finger sandwiches with smoked salmon and cucumber, and dainty boysenberry tarts. The hamburgers we ate earlier were bison, and I had brown sugar crepes for breakfast with Canadian maple syrup.

This was a research trip for a book Dee's writing about a family from Ireland. They immigrated to Ontario, Canada, and a few generations later made their way to Michigan. We started in Detroit taking photos of churches, schools, homes, graves, etc., documenting lives from about 1820 through 1970. He needed to put the setting in context with the history of the neighborhoods, so we'd read up on it. I love learning about places by being there. It was thought provoking to see evidence of the race riots of the '60's and do a little research on the impact of the Ford Motor Company. Those aren't topics that would usually interest me, but that's what I love about travel. It opens my eyes to a bigger world.

We drove over 2,000 miles, through Ontario and on to Ottawa looking for evidence of early settlers. I thought Canada would seem just like the US but it was very much a different country. The newspapers didn't mention our presidential hopefuls or their campaigns, or anything else we're used to seeing. It's humbling to realize that people around the world are not focused on the USA, or wishing they lived here, or even thinking we're cool! I love being reminded of that. It puts my life in perspective. (One funny thing: on the news one night the attention getting weather tidbit was about three exotic areas where there was huge flooding-- Bangladesh; Oxford, England; and West Jordan, Utah! We immediately called home to see if the west side of our valley had washed away, and found it still intact. Any rain in a Utah summer is newsworthy, and I guess weather people everywhere are looking for something exciting to report.)

Sitting in the very crowded Chicago airport on our trip home, I looked around at the potpourri of passengers. People from everywhere, going somewhere else. We were all so similar, and yet we live such a variety of lives. I wondered what would happen if I suddenly jumped up on a table, grabbed a microphone and started describing my kids, or impetuously let loose with a list of my fears and passions. What if I told them about snoring in church? That's exactly what I do when I tour the blogosphere! I guess blogging is a little like travel. I connect with people and ideas I didn't know about before, and then I start paying attention. I get a little more awareness.

13 comments:

kenju said...

"It's humbling to realize that people around the world are not focused on the USA, or wishing they lived here...."

I found that out in Europe last year - and it was refreshing!

Annie said...

Welcome back! so glad you had a good trip.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Welcome back Marty...what a great trip. I've always heard how beautiful Ontario is. My husbands family is French-Canadian, and I've never even been there yet. I can't think of one person who hasn't loved their visit there.

Nancy said...

Welcome Home, Marty.

I love Canada and the Canadian people. We have always been such good neighbors to each other.

I'm especially proud of a 3,000 mile border between our countries and NO opposing armies watching each other for signs of attack. The only officials guarding our border are Customs and Immigration officers.It is only recently that you even needed a passport to enter either country.

I'm happy you had such a nice trip and are back home safe and sound.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Welcome back - your contribution to the little blogosphere was great missed!

marta said...

i love the opening statement. so true! you always make the most of your vacations. oh welcome back!

Bev said...

welcome back Marty! I missed your observations the past week, and I'm looking forward to hearing even more about your travels

gramakas said...

I agree with all of the above! Glad to see you are back safe and sound and have had a great new experience to enrich your life (and mine, vicariously). Thanks for the BD card -- let's lunch around the end of Aug.

MissKris said...

Isn't it amazing how, when we leave ourselves open to the world around us whether we travel or never venture very far from our own little "korner", there's always something new to learn? Two of my great-grandmas came from Canada...one from Quebec, one from Nova Scotia. My son's boss is from Newfoundland and I got in to a conversation with him a while back about my GG from Nova Scotia. Clarence asked me if I knew whereabouts she'd been born and I told him and also what her maiden name was. Surprise, surprise...he'd been to her town and also had relatives with the same last name! So who knows...my son's boss may also be a long-removed cousin of some sort, haha! I could sit and observe people for days on end and never get tired of them, couldn't you?! I am SO glad you arrived home, and thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment so soon upon your return! I feel blessed and special! Oh, and I echo Gramakas...let's do lunch around the end of August, eh? LOL! ;-D

mama jo said...

loved your comments...that's why traveling is so great...you get to see the differences and how we are all the same...most people around the world just want a nice life for their families and themselves...it's just those few crazies out there that mess it up...glad you're home.

gab said...

welcome home, oma! we can't wait to come travelin' your way!

ell said...

"I thought Canada would seem just like the US but it was very much a different country."

Marty, as a Canadian, I'm so glad you said this. All too often, people view us as an extension and amalgam of the US - and it's difficult to explain that we're not. I'm glad you noticed the differences and saw fit to mention it.

Sandra Ferguson said...

What a wonderful trip.

I love Canada. Took a wonderful trip to Vancouver. You're so right, Canada is not just a country to the north of us . . . it really is a whole new world.