Say what you will about the challenges of being a bilingual country, but certain things just sound better in French. Observe:
“Regardez le petit bébé! Avec un chapeau du Canada!”
The speaker was one of two very excited old French women that were out for a stroll on Canada Day morning. And they were right to be excited; Abby looked absurdly cute in her Canada Day outfit. The effect was heightened by her being tucked into my Ergo carrier like a patriotic baby kangaroo.
Flush with pretty-baby-arrogance, we made our way to the National Gallery of Canada, where Abby was exposed to her first examples of modern art. While she seemed impressed (much to her grandparents’ horror) with Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire, Abby had trouble decoding the relevance of Carl Andre’s Lever sculpture. I allowed her a bit of leeway on this (what with her being only 7 weeks old), but I expect that when we return she’ll have developed a better sense of three-dimensional objects and the importance of active projection into space.
It was at about that point that we realized that there were crowds gathering outside under the towering figure of Maman. Cops were blocking things, Mounties were mustering, and the air smelled vaguely of tea and crumpets. Moments later, Elizabeth II, Queen of the Commonwealth Realms (not Elizabeth II, the cruise ship) rode by in a stately horse and carriage. She was seated next to Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and across from some unimportant person in white military dress. The whole procession lasted just long enough to successfully ignore its own irrelevance.
After all of the royal excitement, we headed across the bridge to Quebec to watch the gala on a giant screen by the Museum of Civilization. (It was as close as we could comfortably be to Stephen Harper and his dead, dead eyes.) Abby seemed unfazed by both him and the occasional Snowbird flights overhead; the planes formed smoke trails that were supposed to look like maple leaves, I think. They really only looked like them if you had a very good imagination and were blind.