August 31, 2009
Although they’re rare, those unplanned moments become the most memorable in our lives. And what better way to experience spontaneity than to simply get in the car and drive? This is what I did last weekend. I packed my tent, sleeping bag, Coleman stove, cans of Puritan beef stew and hit the road in true nomad-style. The wind blew me north, and I landed lakeside somewhere outside of Bon Echo Provincial Park. The loons and coyotes were already there and called out in the warm night air (these recollections get us through the winters in Canada). When I woke the next day, it was as though I felt some sort of “Great Canadian” homing device awaken in me—Ottawa. I couldn’t ignore this call and set off for the nation’s capital.
The first stop was the National Gallery, where a fittingly titled show Nomads was on. The exhibition touched on themes of exploration, wanderlust and perambulations. One of the highlights in this show was Althea Thauberger’s video set in a remote village in the Dolomites, in the north of Italy. The artist had hired local villagers to act out a folk legend in their mother tongue. I heard Ladin spoken for the first time; a rare, ancient language spoken in this mountainous region to this day. Later that night, a free light-and-sound show was scheduled on Parliament Hill. As the skies darkened, a massive campfire flame projected on the Peace Tower. In full surround-sound the recorded calls of loons and coyotes echoed through the heart of the capital.