Thursday, 12 February 2009


I didn't take my camera with me as I walked younger daughter up to school this morning, but as it was pouring rain, it would have been difficult for me to have the correct number of hands free to capture the mists rising from the steaming snowbanks and the piles of dog mess in said steaming snowbanks. (Besides, we needed all of our faculties to dodge the curtains of filthy water generated by the wake of SUVs cruising through the puddles and inundating the sidewalks.) Instead I offer a photo from last winter to give you an idea of the muddy cataracts streaming downhill into whatever outflows are not blocked by ice.

Has spring come to Hades? Not on your Nelly. This is what residents of Ottawa wryly refer to as The Winterlude Thaw. You see, for two to three weeks in February, Ottawa host a festival called Winterlude, which features ice sculpture competitions, snow chute playgrounds for the kids, winter sport demos, concerts, Beaver Tails (Bleech! But of course, my girls love them), and most important of all, skating on the Rideau Canal. I understand people actually plan vacations in Ottawa to visit Winterlude. I find this difficult to fathom myself as I find it a rather lame festival, but what happens to those who pick the wrong weekend to turn up is this: the Winterlude Thaw hits, the ice sculptures melt into deformed frozen lumps, the ice shutes drip away, and the Canal is closed to skating. Brave souls slog through this to get to the concerts and Beaver Tail concessions.

This is our ninth winter in Hades; there have been Winterlude Thaws in seven of those nine. The most depressing one featured (sweet Gawd, no) winter smog. I mean, the chief comfort of the hibernal Ottawa experience is the absence of smog, so this was the supreme insult. Remind me to tell you what regularly happens to the Tulip Festival in May some time.

If I'm really smart, I'll hide this blog, change my name and go underground before the National Capital Commission tracks me down for civic treason...


tentativeequinox said...

Vancouver (at least the False Creek area of Vancouver) has copied your Winterlude with our own version of Winter Festival called Winterruption.

Umbrellas recommended.

Persephone said...

Listen, babe, it ain't my Winterlude! I consider myself a temporary resident of Ottawa, and a permanent citizen of Victoria, BC!

Jane Henry said...

Oh dear god, Persephone, I can see why it's not your cup of tea, but you DO make it sound so funny. Probably funnier then the reality. We don't have any interesting festivals around here at all, apart from in Derby week, but there is a stand off between the Town and the Grandstand, so attempts at a Derby Festival are usually pretty lame (they are reintroducing bands on the Downs this summer - yay!). OTOH my sisters who live in the country report such events as Well Dressing (Derbyshire), The Annual Ashbourne Football Match(for which read Scrum), which I have purloined for use in my latest book, and where my sister lived in Northampton a Throwing Teddies Off The Church Tower (with parachutes) Event. Both my sisters reckon it's because everyone gets so bored they have to come up with SOME entertainment. As I don't live in the country I can't commment. But maybe Winterlude is the Ottawan Equivalent?

You did make me laugh with this post though (and your comment on Rob's post about the Blondes had me roaring.) Hope you have a cheerful weekend... Won't be posting here till Monday as we're away, but Happy Valentine's etc. And thanks for the

tentativeequinox said...

Whoops! Sorry Persephone. And here I've claimed Vancouver as my own, when I don't live there, only work there.

Let me re-phrase...Vancouver has copied Ottawa's Winterlude with their own winter festival, Winterruption.


Persephone said...

@tentativeequinox: Much!
@Jane/Jules: Well, Winterlude goes on for two to three weeks, so it's probably a bit bigger and bit less quirky than Throwing Teddies Off The Church Tower, or Cheese Rolling. We are talking a capital city of more than a million people. Maybe it's more like the book festival in Hays... We do get some reasonably big name bands in.