A few weeks ago, we’re in Quebec City on Canada Day. We wander the beautiful, old European-like streets then emerge on a square that is abuzz with action.
I first note the basilica to my left, so I wander over there and peer inside. The place is packed as the priest leads the congregation and the choir in an angelic-sounding version of “Oh Canada.” I’m getting goosebumps for a national anthem that is not my own.
The service ends and I scurry out to witness the rest of the square filling with people. Then I see the focus of their gathering. At the other end of the square, in front of what I later learn is City Hall, are dozens – scores – of Canadian troops in their bright red coats and large black beaver hats. They even have a goat on a leash with a shiny head ornament, not something that shows up on my radar too often.
These troops remind me of multicolor Q-tips, but I’d never tell them that because:
a) They all carry automatic weapons.
b) Every one that I’ve encountered so far has been quite nice.
c) It’s rather cool to see this connection to tradition.
And that’s the whole point. I have no idea of what’s going on here. I can surmise it has to do with Canada Day, but that’s it. Later, a dignitary reviews the troops and gives a speech, but since it is all in French, I still am left in the dark. But I don’t care.
I used to think that for an experience to be meaningful, you had to understand it. In this case, we just witness it, taking in the bright colors and the pageantry that harkens back to a former time. I don’t even want to dissect it and explore the political implications of English tradition in French-speaking Quebec. I just enjoy getting caught up with the crowds in the moment.
Sometimes you don’t need to know all the details or understand the “why” or even the “what” behind a sight for it to be meaningful. The experience itself is enough.
Still, I wonder about this one thing:
What’s with the goat, eh?