The day before Canada day I’d like to share an experience I had at the market in Ottawa. I was having a lovely time drinking a cafe au lait and people watching, and I could hear and see a man in the background on the street singing his heart out. He had a very expressive face and a big generous presence, working the passing crowd like an all time great busker. The dynamic assemblage of the whole place was like watching a kite or a hot air balloon.
Then the balloon burst when a bylaw officer’s truck parks on the sidewalk and the bylaw officer has a discussion with the busker, leading to the busker packing up and leaving.
Now that’s what’s wrong with Canada’s litigious modern society– not that we have too many rules and regulations or that government is too much in our business (though I’m inclined to think so), but rather that people in positions of authority either don’t have or don’t use enough discretion. It was clear to me that this busker was an integral part of the charm of that setting, so please just let him play next time on Canada day and let people buy beer from local shops and let kids play pond hockey and let people express themselves and let judges use some discretion to avoid frivolous, stifling lawsuits.
I love Canada and I try to enjoy all the gifts this northland offers while also living up to the responsibility of having so much. I just think it would be even better if we trusted each other more and then offer more to the rest of the world.
There is a profound sense of the sublime in biodiversity- from the seasons to the yellow lady slipper and the giant redwoods to phytoplankton and the sperm whale.
Kant split up the sublime into the mathematical (infinity overwhelms the imagination but not our intellect) and the dynamic (terrifying physical phenomena).
Walt Whitman expresses a very American kind of sublime that is similar to what Gerald Manley Hopkins described as ‘pied beauty’: that all of the strange and beautiful and wild and tame, high and low, country and cosmopolitan culture, trout, mountains, farm fields, trains, screwdrivers, trowels and all the rest are part of a sublime harmony.
I regret this mild winter in southern ontario because the seasons and the great bird migrations are very much a part of that sublimity for me. I took the ferry to amherst island and saw a snowy owl, majestic, in the only snow drift in a field and a rough legged hawk, birds of the north, the tundra. It was raining the last time I was ice fishing. I haven’t seen any redpolls this year. The Canadian sublime is the harmony in the seasons and in cultural diversity.
If you know how to play bocce ball, bowling, billiards, or curling the right way, you know how to live the right way: you laugh at your poor shots; admire your good shots and the good shots of your friends; share spontaneous moments of friendly competition and anticipation; know the whole time that the game doesn’t matter as much as your friendship and feel thankful.
There are regulations for the bocce court, but forget all that rubbish and play on any random surface like a park or a beach. The virtue of bocce ball is that it is almost impossible to take yourself seriously, like playing the ukulele. You will also find that you have a free hand for lemonade or beer. The rules are just like curling, another great pastime.