It took a six-storey high yellow rubber duck to get me to an event celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Oh Canada. I had planned to just ignore the whole day being a bit tired of all the hype. But then I heard about The Duck. I should clarify things: actually, in the past dozen years, I haven’t celebrated any national holidays, no matter what side of the border they were on. When I first came to Oh Canada, 23 years ago, I was very gun-ho on Canada Day. I was the typical “convert” in those days adapting to the mores of my new country and even adding an “eh” to the end of my sentences. On July 1, I would put a little maple leaf flag in one of my planters on the front porch, wear red-and-white, and sing along heartily whenever I heard Oh Canada. Then, three days later, not ready to relinquish my American pride, I replaced the red-and-white flag with my wee little red-white-and-blue American one, dug out my Star Spangled Flag Hat that my sister Mary gave me years ago and listened to Stan Freberg’s United States of America. In those days, I proudly and happily got into celebrating both allegiances on these July holidays.
But then, I lost my little flags long ago, if not my patriotic heart. This year, I decided that I was going to celebrate these July holidays by staying home and cleaning my house. I’d start on the first of July and finish on the fourth. Since I never got around to doing the much-needed spring cleaning before summer came, I thought this would be the ideal time to do it. It would be a grand way to celebrate my dual citizenship and avoid all political statements! While the good folks on either side of the border, assembled to celebrate the day with picnics and fireworks and flag waving, I would be doing some serious house cleaning. I would rid my house of pounds of cat hair — how can they have any hair left on their bodies — clean out cupboards, sweep those prickly little droppings from the chestnut tree off my porch, feed my anemic tomato plant, throw out stuff, and organize the junk drawers, again.
But then, my friend, Leslie, called and asked if I wanted to go down to Harbordfront for the festivities. I hesitated a millisecond not particularly liking big crowds and patriotic demonstrations, but then I remembered The Duck. I had heard about The Duck on the
CBC making it a newsworthy item and, therefore, something to be seen by all. It seemed a good excuse to put off the housework, change my clothes and head by streetcar to the water. But then, as soon as we got off the streetcar and were engulfed into a crowd of happy, red-maple-leaf-emblazoned shirts I remembered why I didn’t like these kinds of events. There were what seemed to me like thousands and thousands of people there.
I contemplated crossing the street and getting back on the streetcar to head home to a sticky kitchen floor and all that cat hair. But then, I saw The Duck. It was magnificent towering above the flocks of people on the beach and all the tents and umbrellas. I had told my hairdresser, Nobu, the day before about wanting to go and see The Duck. She asked, “Why?” I could have been smug and said, “Why not?” but I didn’t and just shrugged and said, “Because it would be funny.” She didn’t get it. But when I saw it live-and-in-person it was funny. I wanted to clap when I saw it. It was silly seeing this six-storey-high yellow rubber ducky floating around in Lake Ontario.
So, in the end, as we stood in the rain waiting for the ridiculously slow, ridiculously crowded street car to go home, I thought it was a fine way to mark the day. Now, I’ll have to find something equally monumental to do on the fourth — and avoid, once again all the cat hair.