Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Victoria Day

Sharon Wildwind

Victoria Day (yesterday for those of you who don’t live in Canada) is my absolutely favorite Canadian holiday.

Yes, the Auld Queen was an interesting person, who lived in interesting times. Since I’ve suffered through more than my share of Victorian literature—I think I’ve explained before that I got an accidental minor in it the last time I was in university—so I know a great deal about the interesting times between 1837 and 1901. As a Steampunker, I know something of the life and times that never happened, but wouldn’t it be fun if it did.

All that aside, Victoria is not the reason I love Victoria Day. This is.

Those of you about to harvest your first tomatoes are asking so what? Green grass? leaves on the trees? What am I supposed to see here?

The answer is green grass and leaves on trees. Those leaves weren’t there seven days ago. Last Monday they were little buds, figments of our collective imagination. Let me try to explain spring in Calgary. Last snowfall April 13th. First buds noticeable on trees around May 10th. Yesterday, planted balcony garden in 13 degree Celsius weather (55 degrees Fahrenheit) while wearing trousers and two shirts to keep from freezing. Summer temperatures are expected by next week.

In short, we don’t have spring. We go from winter to summer in the blink of an eye. Victoria Day isn’t so much about the Widow of Windsor as it is about going outside without a coat, winter boots, toques (that’s a cap), and gloves. That kind of sartorial freedom makes us positively giddy. Finally released from winter, we get up to all sorts of things on Victoria Day.

Today the town was full of people dressed in tweeds and riding bikes. See here for the Calgary Tweed Ride. People having picnics on lawns. Tea drinkers in elegant white dresses. Large amounts of scone consumption.

I celebrated by making Shrinky-Dink labels for my planters. If you’ve never played with Shrinky-Dink, you’ve missed one of art’s great delights. I lunched on basil chicken salad, new potatoes, fresh strawberries, and lemon cake. I drank tea on my balcony, sitting next to my newly-planted garden. And I wore my Steampunk T-shirt and jewelry to my critique group.

I am so ready for summer.
Quote for the week:

In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.
~Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), American author and humorist who
1) neatly spanned the Victorian era and
2) never lived in Calgary in the spring when he was observing the weather. No doubt his count would have been higher if he had.


Eleanor said...

So true about there being no 'Spring' in Calgary. Barely buds last week, fully leafed trees this week. There was a heavy frost in some parts of town on the weekend, though - anybody who put out flowers before it may have lost a few.

Kath said...

I LOVE it! We don't have Victoria Day here in Kentucky, although we have loads of descendants of British immigrants. And we did go from mild winter into TADA Summer green this year.
We need Victoria Day!!
And lots of scone eating! YUM!

Anonymous said...

Kath, please join us. Start your own Victoria Day traditions in Kentucky.