Tulip time.

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Sorry I’m late.

Yesterday was Victoria Day here in Canada, a holiday officially honouring Queen Victoria’s birthday and unofficially kicking off the summer season. I’d forgotten that a few months ago I’d made a photo of the bronze statue of the Queen located in Kitchener’s aptly-named Victoria Park. If I’d been paying closer attention, I would’ve remembered to post the picture on the appropriate day, but since I’m known to be late now and again, she’s joining us this morning instead.

Here she is, looking a tad on the stern side, in my opinion:

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Bronze statue of Queen Victoria by Italian sculptor Cavaliere Raffaele Zaccaquini, 1911. Victoria Park, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Happy Day-After-Victoria Day and/or Warm Weather Season to you 😊

Crossing over.

It occurred to me that I make a lot of photos of bridges. Bridges and doors. (And tulips, but the tulips will have to wait; the focus of this week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge is bridges, not flowers).

Aesthetically, I’m attracted to the diversity of lines, shapes and patterns in the designs of bridges and doors, but when I think about it, it’s their metaphoric elements that appeal to me, too: connections, transitions, opportunities. Possibilities.

Bridges, in particular, are a symbol of how we can overcome the barriers that separate us.

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The barrier conquered by this pedestrian bridge near Kitchener, Ontario is an eight-lane provincial highway, though you can’t see it from this angle in my photo. I made a number of shots of the entire bridge, including the roadway, but they didn’t excite me all that much. The structure is part bridge, part tunnel: an enclosed arched canopy stretching over 100 metres across the busy highway, connecting two communities and providing a link in a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail (now branded as The Great Trail).

It was only when I crouched down to bring a rogue weed into the foreground (and serendipity provided the lone pedestrian in the distance) that I was happy with the result.

The icing on the cake would’ve been a tulip in the foreground instead. Sadly, even if tulip bulbs could grow in cement cracks on pedestrian bridges, I’d have to wait till next spring to catch one. So I’ll work with what I’ve got. 🙂

A simpler time.

Remember that time I accidentally visited a National Historic Site?

That day, the Joseph Schneider Haus had been closed, so I could only poke around the exterior of this living history museum.

Before Easter, I arranged for another visit to the restored 19th century Mennonite homestead, this time with the kids in tow.

We had the luck of being one of only a few families there, which meant no crowds (a sigh of relief from this introvert) and plenty of attention from the amazing costumed staff, who helped navigate, demonstrate and explain how life had been different in the region nearly two centuries ago.

We all loved it. We’re geeky that way.

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This visit really highlighted the fact that we’ve lost most of the basic skills that people needed to have mastered for survival and self-sufficiency up until the modern age. Most urban or suburban North Americans are helpless without electricity and wouldn’t know where to start to grow or hunt our own food.

(I barely kept our tomato plants alive last summer. Plus, I don’t usually kill insects – with the exception of mosquitoes – so I’d surely die of starvation if I somehow managed to survive the apocalypse).

Among the features at the Schneider house are a working culinary garden, a smoke- and bake-house, and a wood-stove kitchen where some of these skills and practices are kept alive as staff perform traditional household tasks with observation and participation from visitors.

If the Schneider family killed a goose to eat it, they used all of it – the feathers to stuff the pillows, the fat for moisturizing skin or soothing a sore throat, even the bones were made into toys for the children. In the pre-modern age, nothing went to waste. Now, we throw away everything with little regard for the consequences – out of sight, out of mind.

The kids loved exploring the house, which has been carefully researched and restored, with many original features still intact. On the way to the attic, we passed a little nook in the hallway as the sunlight streamed in through the warped glass of the window. A single wooden chair stood next to a table topped with a basket of needlework. I had to stop and make a picture.

I’m geeky that way.

Happy accidents.

I accidentally stumbled across a National Historic Site today.

I’d planned only a walk in Kitchener’s Victoria Park, not a museum outing. Somehow (but not surprisingly) I got lost and ended up on Queen Street, where I saw the sign for Joseph Schneider Haus. I’d never been there, though I’d heard of it. It’s a living history museum – costumed staff demonstrate traditional household tasks as they would’ve been performed on a 19th century Mennonite homestead.

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However, my accidental visit occurred two days before the museum opens for the season. I had to make do with nosing around the exterior.

The house is set back from the road, and a couple of massive conifers obscure what had been the front entrance (the current front door is handle-less because the museum entrance is now around the side), so I may have missed it entirely without the signage.

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In the early 1800s, the Schneider family, early Pennsylvania-German Mennonite settlers, built their home and a sawmill here. The two-storey frame house (considered Kitchener’s oldest dwelling) still survives and has been carefully restored. A number of outbuildings – a bake house, a wash house, a spring house – have been reconstructed based on archaeological evidence of this early Mennonite homestead.

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It’s probably a lovely site in the warm weather months, when the kitchen garden’s in full swing and there’s a buzz of activity. So I’ll be back later this year, with the family in tow, to explore the interior of the historic house, too.

If I can find my way back, of course.

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Thanks to Norm for hosting Thursday Doors. Thanks, too, for stopping by.