Monday, May 10, 2010

and then it snowed

Of course, it wasn't Ottawa's fault that the temperature plummeted from 27C (80F) to 4C (39F) overnight and just in time for the world renowned Tulip Festival. Or that the driest winter and spring we've ever had suddenly decided to turn wet and windy and miserable. Or that I came prepared for the weather people to be wrong about the cold. My sandals were ditched and I was awfully pleased with my gifted scarf from Paris and I knew that if I dug around in the trunk of my car I'd find a pair of dollar store one size fits all gloves.
Because by Sunday, the rain turned to snow.

The earlier warm weather of March and April brought out many of the blooms two weeks earlier than anticipated.

Then again, tulips only bloom for about a week to ten days, so there's always different varieties of early and late bloomers planted to keep the gardens full.

The raindrops made for nice photos (if you could keep the horizontal rain off the camera lens).

Too bad about the wind and rain that battered a few of the blooms ... and the spectators.

I have wanted to go to the Tulip Festival in Ottawa for several years and I thought, with this year marking the 65th anniversary of the Liberation of Holland, that this should be the year to visit. The tulips were a gift from Princess Juliana of The Netherlands for helping out her family by giving them refuge in Canada during the occupation and then liberating her country. Over 120,000 bulbs were given the first year after 1945 and they have been continuing to arrive every year since. Now there are about 3 million of them decorating the city. I didn't count them all, but that seems to be the accepted number, although maybe only 1 to 2 million were blooming at one time.

So XUP and Jazz and I ventured out into the rain and dodged the many, many Japanese tourists taking pictures of themselves tiptoeing through the tulips.

A few umbrellas got in the way of the photos.


I'm not exactly sure what I expected the tulip festival to be like. Maybe a little more festival-ish.
Though, to be fair, we missed the street party on Friday where Ottawa planned to hold its 'first-ever liberation street party ... to recreate the spontaneous party that broke out when the news of the end of World War II first hit the streets on May 7, 1945'. And there was a parade of 'vintage jeeps and vehicles and costumes' and a fly past of WWII aircraft which we didn't quite manage to see. As I recall, we were eating during those events. And we missed the vintage wine auction to be held next weekend. We didn't find the beer tent with the special brew created just for this anniversary. Considering the festival runs from May 7th to May 24, a surprising amount of preparations were still to be done.

Displays and tents were still to be put up for events held only later in the week. (why not when the festival opened?) The lacklustre food tents and crafts tent just left us wanting for a warm, dry marketplace. And with so much construction, it was difficult to get near the war memorial and the display of archival photos about the history of the tulips and Ottawa.


After a while of wandering in the cold after Jazz went home and XUP was being feted by XUP Jr for Mother's Day, I sought refuge in the National Art Gallery just in time for a Bach Choir to perform in the Rideau Chapel (click on link to see pictures the restored and reconstructed chapel, because I followed the rules and did not take any illegal photographs).

But the weekend wasn't only about tulips.

Jazz and I had the opportunity to break burnt toast bread with some of the many bloggers in Ottawa. There are an awful lot of people in Ottawa who just can't keep their thoughts to themselves and they are an organized, fun bunch who get together every couple of months for breakfast and even for an annual Blog Out Loud.

And XUP puts on a great wine and cheese spread.

And that Bazel cat is most entertaining.

Now, go read XUP's version of the weekend.


...and now Jazz has hers up.

45 comments:

  1. It was great to meet you at the Blogger Brunch! Sorry your trip was marked by bad weather and construction (The construction here drags on FOREVER!), but I hope you had a good time regardless! :)

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  2. Never mind the weather, it all sounds quite fascinating and enjoyable. Looking at flowers en masse is one of life's great pleasures. It takes me back to Canberra, which in spring has Floriade, with heaps of bulbs - and it is just gorgeous, so festive and enjoyable. I love the photos. What a bonus, meeting other bloggers too.
    Even though it is almost winter here, our forecast temperature for tomorrow is 26 degrees C.

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  3. And of course, as usual, I'll be the last to get anything up about our weekend and it will all have been said... How lame.

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  4. We just honoured the Canadian veterans in a parade, The youngest one was 84 and the oldest one was 89. It was to be the last parade like it. There will be other commemorations, however. Canadians will not be forgotten soon in this country. How wonderful that you have the tulips. Too bad about the weather. It happens here too.

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  5. Jazz- but it will be your unique perspective and we absolutely need it.
    Violetsky - I'm glad you were able to enjoy a nice indoor activity on Sunday afternoon after our long, long breakfast. When I was young, I always used to marvel that my mother and her overnight guests could spend 5 hours at the breakfast table, clear the dishes and then sit down to lunch. I guess we're officially grown-up when we can do that, right?

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  6. Sorry, you had such a wet Festival. Try again but stay longer and you might get the good weather. My favorite thing was just having a picnic on the grass near Dow's lake and listen to music from a small classical ensemble playing nearby.

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  7. I'm sorry you guys had such terrible weather. If I had been there I would have dragged us all into a nice cozy pub. Maybe we could have found one with a fireplace.

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  8. I think those tulips looked magnificent in the rain, but I'm sorry you were kind of miserable. What's up with this crazy weather anyway?

    Your blog meet-up sounds like so much fun! I would love to have one of those here. Talking over food is the best!

    Don't you think Queen Juliana just has the best name? It sounds so queenly.

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  9. Pauline: it was so nice to see you (sorry we didn't really talk much...) I had a great time, and really a big part of the weekend was meeting up with XUP, Jazz and you guys.
    I love Ottawa, and would have happily walked all over had it been a bit drier and warmer.

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  10. Persiflage: had it not been so very nice all week before, this cool rain wouldn't have bothered us so much (maybe). there were a distinct lack of festivities, though which was dissapointing, though I really mostly wanted to see the flowers.
    there are a lot of bloggers in Ottawa and it was fun to meet them.

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  11. Jazz: it has not been all said - and not your way! (you were the only one who bought anything)

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  12. Nora: yes, for many vets it must be a struggle to get over to Holland every five years. the Dutch do an inpressive job of keeping the memories alive and making sure the younger generation knows what the older ones went through.

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  13. XUP: poor XUP Jr - a fridge full of food that wasn't hers to eat....
    it was a lot less crowded downtown on Sunday! the choral music was lovely.

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  14. LGS: yeah, rub it in with your picnic on the grass being serenaded...

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  15. Geewits: I think that very idea was mentioned....
    but, really, it wasn't like we weren't forewarned about the weather (or that it was any better in Montreal or Toronto had Jazz and I stayed home) so we might as well be together.

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  16. Susan: actually, the rain added so much to my photos! the ones I took on Sunday weren't nearly as good (due to cold fingers and the wind).
    be careful what you ask for, we might descend on you one wet, miserable weekend and expect to be entertained.

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  17. Susan: I love her name - am not particularly fond of the name Beatrix. Or Elizabeth for that matter.

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  18. I meant to say Wilhelmina, actually,

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  19. Geewits - we actually did crawl into a cosy, warm pub at the end of the evening and laughed our asses off at what other people were eating.

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  20. Brrr. But beautiful tulips. Glad you had a good visit!

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  21. Wow, I really enjoyed this post -because I wasn't there, but know what you're talking about -the tulips -the war..I wasn't born yet then, but I remember seeing many pics in magazines of people with so much joy, dancing in the streets (you know that's pretty significant for reserved quiet Dutchmen).

    So much fun to meet other bloggers at such an event!
    One last thing, I love your pic of the display of statues(?) of tulips -very creative:)

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  22. Despite the weather you seem to have a good time - and the tulips looked wonderful. Though I admit they would have looked more wonderful in warm sun!!

    I didn't know The Netherlands send Ottawa all those tulips - it must make for a very flowery city. Would love to see it.

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  23. I'm afraid we're in the same boat here in Belgium:

    exactly the same unseasonal temperature drop, with snow in the south. I can hardly keep warm!

    The nearby tulip fields I recently visited in Holland (I'm on the Belgian/Dutch border) all had that desolate look, with lots of cold wind chasing away visitors and rain battering the flower fields.

    Glad you had the chance meeting that many local bloggers though!

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  24. SAW: really, the visit with each other and putting a face to some of these Ottawa bloogers was well worth it. the festival and breakfast dates just coincided nicely.

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  25. Jeannette: I have been in Holland twice for their May 5th remembrances and it really is astonishing how much gratitude is still shown by the Dutch. so many Canadian flags flkown everywhere and so many people want to shake my hand and say 'bedankt' - as if I, born a dozen years after the war ended, had anything to do with it. though actually, my father did, he was in Apeldoorn.

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  26. Peter: well, well, well, where have you been old friend? are you posting again? I must go check.
    yes, the tall green stems with no colourful flowertop do look pretty desolate! at least the bulbs are a hardy sort!

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  27. Gilly: oops, replying out of order, sorry. we did have a fun time. and bitchin' about the weather took up a lot of our conversation!

    The city needs all these flowers in their downtown to pretty it up. Holland does the street and boulevard gardens very well, though, I wish we did that more over here.

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  28. Susan: you tap dance??
    I want to see. How does your July look (is that enough to practice?)

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  29. I love tulips and they always seem to herald spring to me. So colorful are your pictures. Sorry the weather did not cooperate. But I am glad you had a terrific time of it anyway.
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  30. What IS it with the weather at the moment? We had snow showers in Scotland this morning! Can we blame Iceland, d'you think, or is it a bit mean to keep picking on the little guy?

    How exciting actually to meet bloggers in the flesh. I sometimes wonder if we are all just a bunch of disembodied minds floating in cyberspace. Apparently not.

    Despite your understandable frustrations with the weekend, the tulips look lovely.

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  31. SueAnn: all three of us focused (maybe too much?) on the dismal weather - mostly because it was a shocking disappointment after the sunny warmth during the week.

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  32. dancingbeastie: it is fun to meet bloggers and make new friends.

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  33. ...despite the inclement weather you took some very beautiful photos seen here and on SightLines...this last photo of the tulip "sculptures" is a great contrast to all the blooms previously...and Lucky you to have bloggers to meet up with!

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  34. Sorry I haven't been around. How is life treating you?

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  35. Oliag: raindrops on petals do make lively photos, don't they!

    I think those 'sculpted tulips' were to be placed around the downtown core, maybe? I did see a few outside the ByWard market.

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  36. Mr Nighttime: during my long drive home from Ottawa, I was thinking of you... and last year's lilac visit. life is good.

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  37. Gorgeous pictures. I think the rain added to their vibrancy.

    CJ xx

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  38. I would love to go to Ottawa, and the tulips would be an added bonus. When I was a student in Windsor, the furthest I went was Toronto.

    Where are you?

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  39. Crystal: the rain did add some vibrancy to the petals and frizz to our hair.

    Ann; I am about 1 hour west ot Toronto.

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  40. Even though the weather was punk-poor, your photographs of the Tulips were Wonderful! It must be thrilling to see all these tulips blooming at the same time.
    I love that they have this Festival in Honor of Liberation Day and that The Queen of Denmark thanked Canada in this most Beautiful way.

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  41. Oh dear, Violet Sky, I'm so sorry it snowed/rained! :(

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  42. Tulips and snow do not mix :-( Sorry for the nasty weather. But it looks like a sea of color and tulips and yes, even that lovely yellow umbrella.

    Cheers,
    jj

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  43. Naomi: ah well, the weather did not really diminish my enjoyment of the weekend.

    Mary: and the snow was really only flurries that melted immediately

    Joanna: no, tulips and snow should not mix. but XUP had a lovely yellow umbrella that brought sunshine to our day!

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