Well with 6 hours left until my month of being on call was over I got a call..goin’ to Winnipeg! It was a little frustrating as I had plans for my day off the next day which was a holiday in Canada. Okay, it was actually very frustrating. I was six hours away from sunshine, BBQs, fireworks, parades, and friends, instead I was gifted with working, in a metallic cylinder and staying in a hotel next to the airport and far from celebrations.
Canada Day, July 1st, celebrates our country’s pride. I have worked a few Canada days and been off for many. My favourite ones whilst working were the ones spent in the country’s capital, Ottawa. The city turns in to a giant block party, roads are closed to transform in to rivers of red and white clad revellers. Don’t plan on eating in a restaurant without a wait though. The lines to be sat, especially on the patios are winding and lengthy to say the least.
The best kept secret about Canada Day in the capital is the eve before the celebration on the parliament hill lawn, the full run through of the next day’s show. I have shown up mid evening on the night before the festivities and been at the front of the festival style seating, well standing really,25 feet from the artists. A full rehearsal is staged with few spectators. Those that do show up are drawn in by the music wafting on the breeze and pulling them towards the source like a siren’s song.
One year I watched for 4 hours while the stage was set up and lines were run, edited and re-run. The hosts and bands were cordial taking pictures with the few that came by early. I, of course, wasn’t planning to be there but instead stumbled upon it so I did not have my camera and it was just before every phone had a decent camera in it. No pictures for me. Some of the acts that year were Great Big Sea, Pierre Lapointe, Jenn Grant, and Dan Mangan.
I feel that there is just something special about live music. The energy is different than listening to it in your car or at home. The crowd could not stop dancing and pulsating which was infectious. You could see the excitement on the Canadian singers’ faces at the magnitude of the stage when they walked out from backstage. That night they were playing to a crowd that started out at about 30 people when I arrived and ended up about 2 thousand when I had to grudgingly call it a night as I worked early-Ish the next morning and needed to be well rested. I saw the beauty in French music for the first time in many years as I had forgotten about it living out west. I went home and bought many albums from the artists I saw that night. I still listen to them, each song they played that night Harley’s me back to that evening when it plays over my stereo.
There were a few things that require patience that evening. It wasn’t all sunshine rainbows and lollipops. The setting up of each act took a bit of time as did some of the rewrites for the hosting script so there were 15 minute breaks at times that seemed longer as you stood around. What passed the time though was the friendliness of my fellow Canadians. We really are a friendly bunch I feel. I met a lot of people that night exchanged stories of where we were from and their expectations for the next day as the newlywed duke and duchess of Cambridge were in town. Royal fever was setting the crowd all a twitter and some were camping out to secure their spot at the front of the expected 100 000 person crowd. That was my fondest Canada day layover memory.
This recent layover was no different from any other short layover. Sleep, workout, eat, and get ready to go back to work. My multiple flight day I had started in Winnipeg and ended in Calgary but saw a few cities in between. The special moment of my day, or silver lining moment was during my last flight from out east all the way home we passed over Winnipeg at exactly the right moment. My eye was drawn to the tiny porthole window, the clouds parted, and I saw the most beautiful fireworks display from 35 000 feet in the air. It was like tiny glittering flowers lighting up the airspace above the city.