Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What puts the 'festive' in Festival?


For a festival to truly live up to the meaning of the word, it must celebrate a thing or an event. The festival I've just been to takes place every year and the 'thing' it celebrates is a person, Amelia Earhart.

The Amelia Earhart Festival has been a tradition in Atchison, Kansas since 1997, and every summer it seems to only grow bigger and more exciting. This year's festival certainly bore that out, with the town of her birth attracting too many visitors for me to be able to count, though I know that at least one came from as far away as Spain -- and another from Ukraine -- to attend. Truly, a 'round-the-world' celebration!

Although it doesn't officially start until Friday, tradition dictates that the celebrating starts with Thursday evening's fundraiser, an old-fashioned ice cream social. There's an assortment of homemade pies and cakes, plenty of ice cream (at least four flavours to choose from), colourful sprinkles to scatter over top.

Dramatic performances, author readings, a speakers' symposium --  even a carnival of rides in the downtown area -- mean there's something for everyone. Flight aficianados had plenty to be excited about this year, as the airport in Atchison is now home to the last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E, twin to the plane Earhart flew on her last flight. "Muriel" (named after Amelia's sister) is the gorgeous machine pictured above.

And another of this year's highlights had to be a slide presentation by Ann Pellegreno, who successfully followed Earhart's round-the-world circuit in 1967 -- fifty years ago. History alive!

Plenty of visitors come to the Birthplace Museum, where they took plenty of photos of the many articles there that belonged to Amelia and her family.

Culmination of the weekend is always a spectacular display of fireworks set to music. I got to sit in a rocking chair for this, surrounded by friends old and new. What a time!
video


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sunny sunflower for Kansas


It's the state flower of Kansas, the place I'm off to for the next few days. Just the littlest bit of research reveals that Kansans take their state flower seriously -- there's even an ode to it!

I suppose, to be sure I can get back home again, I should take a pair of ruby slippers along. Since I don't have any with jewels, these little red shoes will have to do the trick.

If nothing else, they make me feel happy when I wear 'em.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Rollin' into Stardust

Once upon a time, going to a roller rink was its own kind of social media -- or maybe social milieu would be fairer.

Surrey's Stardust roller rink was just such a place. Even its slogan offered an invitation: "Where meeting people is half the fun!" Only now, after many years (and who knows how many round-and-rounds of wheels), the Stardust is saying its last farewell.

Today is the last day the rink will be open to skaters, with a kind of finale event tonight.

I was surprised to discover that there is no entry on Wikipedia for the Stardust rink. I hope that this will change. One of my best memories of the place was a Grad fundraiser at the school where I worked. We had an all-night skate, or 'Roll-a-Thon' where parents and friends sponsored us to skate from midnight to dawn. Tiring, but fun -- with even a fair bit of money raised for the cause.

The building will be replaced with a 55-storey building, but I'm sure there are more than 55 stories with their origin this particular heritage site.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Summer dreams

One of my favourite summer pleasures is sleeping outdoors. The cool night air fills my lungs, freshening them and refreshing me.

No tent this year -- at least not yet -- just a long couch nestled beneath the cedars.

Morning birdsong is so much better than hearing an alarm. Watching the gradual lighting of the sky so much calmer than turning on a light switch.

When I woke here, I lay still for quite a long while, just taking in the possibilities of another new day.

Looking at the greenery above me, it gave a whole new meaning to the concept of a canopy bed. Such sweet dreams lying under the real thing.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Incongruities abound


Initially eager to observe this year's Canada Day, I hung the big flag outside the front door and charged ahead making a treat I usually only make at Christmas.

Butter tarts, a treat I think of as quintessentially Canadian, even though my recipe doesn't contain that most quintessentially Canadian ingredient, maple syrup.

Yet finding one last bucket of strawberries in the fridge from last Sunday's pick meant I was baking wintry treats in summer -- at the same time I was needing to slice berries for the freezer -- for wintry treats.

This somehow felt like a happy juxtaposition, a sunny kind of parallel, even complementary -- a yin and yang of seasons, of oven and freezer.

Tonight was another tradition -- the fireworks show on the beach in White Rock. As always, crowds of people streamed down the hills towards the sea, looking for the best vantage point for viewing. We managed a spot along the boardwalk, just below the train tracks that run the length of the beach. When we heard a train go by shortly before the show started, we thought that would be good to have it out of the way before everyone got down there.

But then in the midst of the celebratory display, not just one, but two more trains came through. Tanker cars, black. To me, ominous-looking as they rumbled along so close to those thousands of people -- young and old, so many families and groups of friends -- who'd been talking and laughing and pointing at the colours in the sky.

Black metal train cars carrying something toxic. Even their sound overshadowed the fireworks. American train on Canada Day. Talk about stealing someone's thunder.

Friday, June 30, 2017

At last, onward!



It's taken nearly two months, but at last there's clearly a new road ahead. Since our provincial election way back on May 9th, those of us who live in British Columbia have been on an uncertain path. Our premier has done quite the job of dragging her heels, hanging on to power. It's hard not to think this was primarily to do what she could to see to it that the Site C dam project gets to what she has called "the point of return".

Thankfully, events in the Legislature late yesterday laid the way for us to finally go forward. The acting (I'll say!) government had presented an almost absurdly 'copycat' set of proposals that nobody seemed ready to fall for -- after all, we've had 16 years of their tight-fisted (unless you're one of their rich friends) actions. A bit like the boy who cried wolf story -- who would believe! Instead, the BC Liberals fell to a non-confidence vote, opening the door that will allow the NDP-Green agreement to start leading us forward.

As soon as John Horgan is sworn in -- we can only trust that this will happen soon -- we may at last finally see some action in government. No one promises that the road ahead will be smooth, but at least it will be one that offers a better direction.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Berry beautiful days

Tuesday was Solstice, so that means ever since that night it's been summer.
As if to help us celebrate, the raspberry canes offered up the first of the year's fruits that day -- two perfectly red raspberries -- ripe and delicious.

Yesterday, the first full day of summer, was also National Aboriginal Day. Again, the berries presented a way to celebrate. We'd gone out to Brae Island Regional Park, a park on the Fraser River that also bounds the lands of the Kwantlen First Nation.It seemed like a great place to celebrate the day and also enjoy the weather. While on our walk there, we found that the salmonberries were ripe, so had to pick a few of those for a snack.

I love the way the berries change colour as they ripen, just the way their namesake does, going from pale orange to a fiercely bright red.

They're a close relative of the cloudberry. In fact, some contend that's just another name for salmonberry. Aboriginal people used to whip the berries into a froth and serve it as a treat -- a kind of 'ice cream'. Name-wise, another close relative of this berry is what they call bake-apple in Newfoundland. Whatever the name, a wild berry fresh off the bush is a treat to be savoured.

As for tomorrow's berries, the morning is time for another round of picking ripe strawberries. And maybe when I get home from the fields, I'll do another round of pruning towards my end-of-summer harvest of the blackberries.