Bagpipes, brass bands, horses, and more…

Have you ever had a day that you know perfectly logically is an unusual sort of day that only happens once a year, yet at the same time feels so comfortable and familiar that it sort of feels like coming home?

The day before the first of July, we took Auntie N to the RCMP stables for the Sunset Ceremonies. They take place only once a year here in Ottawa, and it is well worth going. The police band plays, there is a pipe and drum band performance, and agility dogs and horse jumping and other skills, plus the RCMP demonstrates some of their more technical skills, including chasing down a bad guy in a minivan amidst much noise and smoke and cheering. The main event is the Musical Ride, and oh, is it ever something to see! I never tire of watching those beautiful horses wheel around in all sorts of patterns.

They perform on Canada Day every year as well, but the crowds tend to be crazy and unless you are willing to stake out a spot very, very early in the morning, you won’t see much more than the tips of their standards as they gallop and wheel around the front lawn of Parliament Hill.

But on the day before Canada Day, settled comfortably in our camp chairs on a little grassy knoll overlooking the performance grounds at the RCMP stables…


When that pipe and drum band marched in, I just knew that I was exactly where I needed to be for the next couple of hours.


There is something about listening to bagpipes and drums that makes my heart happy. The dancers were lovely, too, but it is the band that makes me settle further back into my chair with a smile on my face and a deep sense of joy resonating through my core.


The kids liked watching the dogs get put through their paces. They liked sitting in a truly all terrain ATV, too.


And when a minivan darted out onto the field with RCMP in tactical vehicles in hot pursuit, K practically vibrated with excitement.


The Musical Ride is, of course, the highlight of the evening, and I never tire of watching them wheel and turn and charge as they run through the patterns that make up their performance.





But I think the highlight of the evening this year had nothing at all to do with what was happening in front of us. In fact, it took place while we were waiting for the show to start.

While waiting for the performance to start, I pulled out a couple of bottles of nail polish I had stashed in my bag before we left and I went to work on B’s fingers, to her great delight.

Or rather, it would become her great delight, but at first, it involved much negotiating.

Or arguing, depending on your point of view.

“But Mama, I don’t want white nails!”

“Yes, you do.” I told her.

“No, I don’t!” she insisted. “I want something colourful! Like pink! Or purple sparkly polish!”

“No you don’t.” I told her, and I started painting her nails white. She resisted. I ignored her resistance. “Just trust me. Be patient. You’ll love it.”

She gave me the most skeptical look a 10 year old has ever given their mother in the entire history of 10-year-olds’ skeptical looks.

But she let me do it. And after the white had dried and she, still frowning, expressed once again her great doubt about the benefits of white nails while I got out the red and started working on the second layer.


Canada flag nails. I gave my daughter Canada flag nails for Canada Day. We did the first hand in one direction, and the other hand in the other direction, because I wasn’t sure which would look better.

She loved them.

She loved them so much, she insisted I take a photograph of them.


She loved them so much that when Auntie N offered to snap a quick family portrait, she held up her nails to make sure the camera wouldn’t miss them.


Personally, I didn’t notice them. I was too busy being blinded by my children’s beautiful smiles.  We do like attending the RCMP Sunset Ceremonies oh so very much.




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