Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Victoria Day in Canada. Huzzah!

I love Canadians. And may I say that our well informed Canadian cousins aren't particularly shy when they're at home of teasing US - as in U.S. - so allow me to return the favor to my friends here whose colorful money still bears the likeness of England's Monarch.

Victoria Day?

Yes, indeed. An honor to Britain's Queen Victoria, who virtually defined the 19th century in Western culture. She it was who embodied the glory that was the British Empire for 63 years.
And so naturally the inhabitants of her former empire should celebrate in grand style. Right?
Wrong. According to CBC radio, only Canada celebrates this day for the Great White Queen.

Now, you Canadians are so inclusive, democratic and dare I say, "liberal" (which means something different here) that I was surprised to find that you celebrate the birth of the Empress of your former colonial government. After all, it was she who brought her Empire the Second Afghan War. Afghanistan is a hot topic now that 5,000 Canadians are serving in the latest Afghan War. (Check out CBC radio's Afghanada series - for an eye opening drama series about the NATO mission there.) But no matter, she was beloved none the less. And in Prince Edward Island, a place named for the son of George III (THAT George, whose tea my Patriot ancestors dumped into Boston Harbor) the day was placidly content.

But what about French Canadians? Well, in Quebec they celebrate a French uprising against English rule. So you see how difficult this empire thing can be. More credit to Victoria I suppose.

Furthermore, Queen Victoria was a powerful woman. A relatively enlightened leader of a great Empire at a time when western women could not vote. Victoria Day doesn't seem to bother modern English Canadians. Neither does the three day holiday weekend they get each May.

For my American self, it was less holiday and more work. My ancestors bid goodbye to the English monarchy several centuries ago. So if it's all the same, I'll give my respects to Her Majesty and get back to shoveling compost.

Victoria Day dawned cloudy and cool, with impending rain. I mowed the lawn a week ago and it's now due for another cut. But cloudy, wet weather set me to work in the greenhouse.

I had neglected to clean out the green house last fall, bu my reward was finding and ample supply of dill and cilantro seed still on the dead plants inside. I harvested the seed for planting
a new crop this year and noted that dill seeds in particular are most handy for making pickles in the fall. Last summer I made dill tomato pickles, which are green tomatoes pickled like cucumbers. They made fine pickles in the sandwich I had at noon.

I finished cleaning out the greenhouse today. I emptied out the old beds and turned in a fresh load of farm-made compost, and I will start planting seedlings tomorrow.

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