Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Canada Day

We have held a July 4th BBQ for many years, probably 10 or so. But last year and this, July 4 fell unfortunately mid-week so we switched to celebrating Canada Day. Works well enough given that I am a Canadian and I am surrounded by enough Canadians and lovers of Canadians to make it all worthwhile. Next year it is back to July 4.

My ex and I gave a lot of parties here over our decade together, and the pattern we established is what I continue to follow. I like to worry every tiny detail. This year's Canada Day started out, alas, a little lax in that department because the invites were multifarious ... some by Evite from one of our housemates and some by pdf from me and my roommate RL. Next year, a web site in plenty of time, I promise. I have to admit that I find Evite vulgar, and perhaps I am being pompous, but I dislike subjecting my friends to advertising and invasive monitoring. But more than anything, I have a pet peeve against addressing people by a handle rather than by name. Call me an old fart. (The snide reader, and I am in sympathy with the snide, will note that I identify myself on this blog by a handle, but we will proceed by agreeing to blithely ignore this obvious, gnawing inconsistency.)

Before the party, there's the cleaning and the buying and the prepping and the fussing. I have never given a party that I do not regret it an hour before it begins, and I have never given a party that does not make me blissful an hour after it starts.

My sainted ex, R, is an electrician, and I rely on him to hook up the speakers and, most important, fly the flag. But exes are harder to push around than partners, and he managed to arrive after the party started. Horror of horrors, the flag was unflown even as guests were arriving. But R got it up pretty quick once he rolled in, and we had ourselves a party with all the fixins.

Now, I am no chauvinist, love Canada as I still do, but that flag is simply the most beautiful national flag in the world. I reminded those of my guests who were not sufficiently quick afoot to escape my ramblings that the original "new flag" proposed in the Great Canadian Flag Debate in the 60s had three red maple leafs in a field of white with narrow bars of blue on either side. The blue bars being sea to sea, and the three maple leafs being, well, Canada. It was famously the design of Lester Pearson, Canada's hapless great liberal prime minister. Click here to see this monstrosity (I remember the blue as bluer than this image, but perhaps I remember wrongly). Fortunately, good sense and a better design won the day, and all but the most curmudgeonly old goats have embraced the flag that is no longer new, just Canada.

Back to the BBQ. We had enough meat to feed a small army, appropriate I suppose for a country inordinately proud of its small army. Last time I was in Ottawa, I visited the new, spectacular Canadian War Museum ... I'll try to write about that some time. Perhaps this is one of those Canada/U.S. differences that we Canadian expats love to worry ... no American museum could call itself War; it would have to be War and Peace, or Defense, or Service, or some other euphemism. But Canadians remain proud of their warring, at least partly by reason of the smugness that three or four decades of peacemaking can instill.

RL, my roommate, supplied the drinks (a Fred Collins flavored lightly with maple syrup) and two salads, one pasta, and one melon. Now, strangely enough, I cannot stomach any kind of melon, and the salad pictured here which our honored guests mowed through without mercy, fills me with revulsion.

Now one fellah who had a hell of a time was my old dog. I figure that it is a party for him too, although there is no enjoyment for a dog for whom that deep hunger is always in the foreground. He got plenty of the meat ... I threw him a whole sauage at one point, and I know he got a hamburger patty. I did not waste any of the tuna on him, but he got assorted bits of ribs. He is a big old mutt, so he handled it all with aplomb, begging with the dignity of an old monk ... earnestly, religiously, but not so sanctimoniously as to turn off his possible donors. Everyone says he is well-behaved, which fills his master with pride, even if I know what a shill he really is.

So we ate and we drank and we talked and we enjoyed the perfect San Francisco day of big blue sky and moderate temperature and enough wind to remind us that the fog would eventually come.

As they filtered out, our guests wished us a Happy Canada Day, and I was happy just to have made evident our little big country. Because the chief business of Canadians is being Canadian. So, even in exile, I want to remind Americans that we are there, and when they nod, I am satisfied. Of such is Canadian identity made.

That said, we're a hell of a country.

O Canada!

Photos by Arod, all but the last at the party. The bottom photo of Parliament taken in January 2007, in Ottawa, of course,

No comments: