Friday, 1 June 2012

The Most Dangerous Place In Canada

photo credit,

I'm lucky enough to be spending a few days in Ottawa this weekend. 

Psst...Ottawa is the capital of Canada.

I had the morning to myself and since the weather was perfect for walking, I left my hotel and strolled up Bank Street, heading north to Parliament Hill.

Even though this isn't my first visit to the Government buildings, the complex with it's stonework and steeple rooftops still evokes a wide eye sense of wonder from me. When my own kids saw it for the first time, they thought it was Hogwarts.

Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
photo credit,

Parliament, Not as much fun as Hogwarts
photo credit,

I walked by several groups of Junior High School students gathered around the Centennial Flame. Each teen had a sheet of paper, probably checking off items on some kind of 'history of politics' scavenger hunt.

Centennial Flame
photo credit,

On the other side of the lawn, a guy was protesting gay marriage. In Canada we believe and support gay marriage—but we don't support gay divorce, it messes up the statistics.

Anyway, this guy was just standing there in front of a few signs and was wearing some kind of poncho/Snuggie contraption that he'd sewn himself out of his province's flags. I won't embarrass anyone by saying which province because I totally adore Newfoundland and I have family there.

I continued along the pathway and up the stone steps, deciding to settle on a bench in front of the main building. From this vantage point I was able to enjoy the full height of the beautiful clock tower, admiring the rich patinae of the copper roof. Across the green expanse of the grounds, workers were planting red and white flowers. The sun was shining on my face and a Starling was making a nest in a nearby shrub.

Seriously. What was the news going to be about tonight? Everything was so peaceful.

And I realized this was a rare and precious thing. I was suddenly thankful to live in a country where I could be this close to the Prime Minister without fear of being attacked or threatened. The usual RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) vehicles were parked at various spots, but mostly it was a lawn covered with teenagers writing on their laps, tourists with cameras, and a quietly protesting guy wearing a homemade moo-moo.

photo credit,

Feeling particularly patriotic, I began to hum O'Canada as I pulled out my walking map, plotting a course to make my way toward the Museum of Nature.

And that's when it happened.

Have you ever had your hair suddenly pulled from behind? It's surprising (especially when you're not expecting it). I felt a sharp stab on the top of my head and I heard myself shreke—yes I shrieked. I whipped around, holding up my hand as a shield, but no one was there. I turned and saw a Starling fly back into the shrubs. Are you kidding me?!

Me, not exactly, on Parliament Hill
photo credit,

A man in a suit passed me in the opposite direction, looking sympathetic. He said, “That bird got me twice this week.”

I laughed and did my best to smooth out my hair while trying to inconspicuously get the hell out of there. Pain takes a back seat to embarrassment every time. I walked down Elgin Street not exactly enjoying the irony of the moment.

In the Bird Exhibit at the Museum, I stared down at the stuffed version of a Starling, in particular it's long sharp beak. Apparently they're very territorial. No kidding. My fingers found the throbbing spot under my hair and I was grateful no bird poo was there. Trust me, bird poo in the hair is no party—but that's another post.


Cheryl Koevoet said...

Great story, Bethany. If i'm ever in Ottawa I'll try to remember my helmet!

BR Myers said...

Good plan. Thanks for the comment, Cheryl.

Amanda Fanger said...

Haha! Thanks for sharing the story Bethany! I remember being attacked by birds once when I was little. Being a small child at the time, I didn't realize that I was too close to the bird's nest and they were just being good parents. I totally sympathies with the birds now, but at the time, I was just thinking about the poop they dropped on me. Yep, not pleasant!

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