What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. ~George Bernard Shaw
Every year at this time in Ottawa, a beautiful thing starts to happen. All around the Parliament Buildings, all over Dow’s Lake, around neighborhoods all over the city, thousands and thousands of tulips come into bloom. Why the obsession with tulips? It is a two fold tale. First, Canada housed the Dutch Royal family during WWII. Princess Margriet was born here. The Canadian Army also helped to liberate the Netherlands from Nazi control. After the war, as a gift of gratitude, Princess Juliana sent 100,000 tulips bulbs to Canada. The next year she sent another 20,000, and to this day there are close to a million tulips that come into bloom for the world’s largest tulip festival. It is a really wonderful story and a gem in Canadian history. You can read more about it all here.
We have never made it out before. We always seem to miss it somehow, but oh did we ever hit it just right this year! The weather was warm and sunny, the skies were clear, and the tulips, oh the tulips. Stunning was a word that was used more than once. The boys couldn’t get over the colours and the smell.
We took our time and slowly walked along the path. We stopped to smell all the colours, just to see if the red smelled any different from the yellow. We read the signs explaining the story and learned a bit of history. We nibbled some sandwiches, we saw some friends, and we learned about a new game, Bocci Ball. It has already been asked for and I have instructions to look up rules and proper etiquette for play.
It was a lovely few hours. After the weekend’s rain and cold temperatures, I am not sure the tulips will be the same this week. It was pure luck that we timed it so well, and I am so glad we did. It is the simple little things, these simple traditions that I want to give the boys. It’s true, that they might sit around when they are in their thirties and laugh at me for dragging them to all of the crazy festivals and fairs, but I like to believe that rather, they will look back fondly at all of this, at all of the simple little moments that make the days special, and maybe we will still all head out to the tulips festival together to stop and smell the flowers.
Until then, we have plans to plant our own tulips in the fall, that way, as Julien says, “If we happen to miss the tulips next year, we will have them here at home!” Not quite the same thing, but it is a wonderful idea.