You can not stay on the summit forever;
You have to come down again.
So why bother in the first place?
What is above knows what is below,
But what is below does not know what is above.
One climbs, one sees.
One descends, one no longer sees, but one has seen.
There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.
When one can no longer see, one can still know. -Rene Daumal
This poem was on one of my favorite facebook pages, Biodesign Out For a Walk, and boy, did it hit home. I have been feeling this distance from the mountain tops, the climbs of the early part of my trip. This week was spent mostly in large cities in Canada, walking my feet off in rising temperatures, with my jaw dropping at the sight of 14th and 15th century architecture rather than million year old mountainsides. Don’t get me wrong, it has been phenomenal, but this poem speaks where my heart could only wonder. As I have descended into busy populated zones I am recalling more of the memory of what I have seen.
I already wrote about lovely, quaint, unique Quebec City in my previous post. From there I spent one night in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. I checked into a business hotel and walked out to explore the gothic revival Parliament buildings in my one evening in town. I came across one huge old man-made monolith of beauty after another. Gargoyles grinned from castle walls and round towers peaked with turrets, all with views of the Ottawa River. I had no idea what I was looking at in terms of what went on behind the doors here, but I assumed that many important decisions were pondered by the bourgeoisie.
Construction was started in 1859 so the architecture was not as ancient as what I experienced in Quebec City, but just as beautiful. It was too late to get inside for a tour so I lingered outside taking pictures and encircling the stone buildings of the hill. The next thing I have to report still seems so unreal…
I was on the sidewalk area just outside the main Parliament building where there was a light post with a blackbird sitting on top making faint squawking noises. I walked by and the next thing I knew the top of my head was being assaulted by claws and beak. I squealed and ran a few steps waving my hands, not sure what was happening when again I was bombarded by beak and claws. Now I’m more freaked out and run, swinging my purse like a samurai. I was a mixture of fear and laughter, disbelief welling up from my guts. I wondered how many people were watching this spectacle but it seems I was alone with the manic bird as I quickly moved out of the area. My first thought was, “these freaky things happen to me just so I have something to blog about!!”
I have since searched the internet and I’m not the only one that has been attacked by blackbirds in Ottawa. Female joggers along the canal have had similar run-ins with nesting birds. But I am one of only a few individuals that has had a private bird encounter, so I choose to take it as a sign of blessing rather than a curse. I have been chosen, for what is yet to be seen and no blood was involved so I’m grateful. Hilarious really.
After that I decided to head to the Byward Market area of town, similar to Seattle’s Pike Place. It’s a pretty great area of shops and restaurants but I was done in and ready for some relaxation time, so I bought a cookie at an awesome bakery and called it a night.
After another long drive through the beautiful Canadian countryside I checked into a hotel outside of Toronto then went downtown to meet a friend, and fellow actor, that I met in January at the Shakespeare Intensive in Lenox, MA. We walked around the Bloor West Village neighborhood while we waited for a table at Fresh (yummy great vegetarian fare) . It was SO GREAT to see him and catch up and remember our experience together and get to know about his daily life and dreams. It was a lovely 4 hour connection with a real, genuine, kindred spirit and I left saddened that I would not see him again for a long time. But I was on my way the next morning to get to Stratford, Ontario, known for their famous Shakespeare Festival.
Stratford is a small town amongst green farmland and I found a sweet motel on the outskirts of town called the As You Like It Motel and my room was Rosalind, named after a character that is admired for her intelligence, quick wit and beauty. It was very clean, the proprietors thoughtful, unaffected and good-natured, they made me feel welcome without smothering. I would definitely return when I travel this way again.
I saw Cymbeline and Much Ado About Nothing in my one day there, The production values of both were professional and the acting high quality, so it was great to see another place carrying on the tradition of Shakespeare’s work. They have four venues and they fill them with a mix of classics, musicals and modern work. It is very much like Ashland Oregon’s Shakespeare Festival, but the age of the patrons seemed older, mostly gray-haired, not an encouraging sign for longevity, but they have been around since 1953 so they are doing something right and I was glad to be there. Their Much Ado will go down as one of my favorites. Set in Brazil the design and concept were beautiful and creatively executed.
It was quick breeze-through of eastern Canada, of course it needs more time in a perfect world, but I still have a lot of area to cover and some special people to see so there’s no time to linger. And as much as I love the big city atmosphere, it has been hectic with long drives daily and I am having to remember the mountaintops of Yosemite and the deep canyons of Arizona to stay centered on what I discovered as I “conduct myself in the lower regions.” But I am still feeling the gratefulness of each day’s encounters even with angry birds.