I was a little bummed out that we were unable to go to the Winterlude opening ceremonies. Free Museum of Civilization admission! Extra crafts! Mythical stilt walking creatures! A guy playing water-based instruments in a bathtub with water, ice and steam! Musical fireworks! And my favourite percussionist Jesse Stewart (this is the guy who we saw play the canoe paddles in the summertime)! Trouble was the action started way too late for Elizabeth (7pm).
So we didn't go on Friday. Instead we decided we'd go to see the ice sculptures at the Crystal Gardens in Confederation Park on Sunday after church since it's an easy walk. Once I realized that both the bathtub guy and Jesse Stewart were doing a repeat performance at the Crystal Gardens that afternoon, I was pretty excited.
The bathtub presentation by H2O Orchestra was very strange but extremely cool. People kept walking by and then doing a double-take. Why are there girls in bikinis sitting in a steaming bathtub? They really wanted to know! Answer: they were playing a water organ that can only be played from underwater - I think it was an Idratmosphone, which is a type of hydraulophone. I think. There was definitely a hydraulophone being played, an ice xylophone called a pagophone (water sound instead of wood sound) as well as a flute that used fluid instead of air. In any case, the members of the orchestra were playing various water-based instruments, using a theme of the ancient elements of Earth, Water and Fire. As the inventor of the instruments (Professor Steve Mann) explained, earth is defined as anything you can stand on, so ice would be considered "Earth". "Water" is really liquid and "fire" is really anything in a gaseous state. We enjoyed the orchestra very much, especially their last piece when the mythical stilt walkers made an appearance, dancing gracefully around among the crowd while various Winterlude volunteers nervously shooed people out of the way. We actually ran out of space on our memory card (I know!) so sadly we didn't end up getting a video of them for you, but they were beautiful. Afterwards I took close-up pictures of the instruments with Steve Mann standing only a few feet away, but between being excited about the upcoming Jesse Stewart concert and the stilt walkers I didn't really look at him. This is a shame, because if I had I might have noticed his eyecam and realized that he was THAT Steve Mann - Canada's first cyborg. I am completely kicking myself for missing the opportunity to talk to a really interesting man that I have been reading about for YEARS. Brendan's comment afterwards was that he knew the name was familiar but he didn't figure it out either until the moment had passed. Full disclosure: I might never have realized the connection without Brendan. My inner geek is so, so sad.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that some of the sculptures don't look very icy. That's because some of the sculptures were made out of recycled plastic as part of an art project by students across Canada and from around the world. During the H2O concert, Elizabeth and I hung out by the enviro-pledge table for a while, keeping warm in the sun. We didn't make a pledge to help the environment during the next week because I didn't really want to take home a plastic bracelet which I'd then have to dispose of... I thought that kind of defeated the purpose, to be honest. I was very amused by one lady who really wanted to make a pledge but "couldn't think of a single thing [she] could do to help the environment that [she] wasn't already doing". The rather enthusiastic student told her she could pledge to continue doing what she was doing so that the lady could take home her bracelet. I think the lady just wanted to boast about her environmental ways because she spent a good five minutes talking about all the things that she did to help the environment. Meanwhile, I'm listening to her say that she recycles and composts (basically) and my inner voice is thinking - really? Not even one single thing?
We ended up not hearing the entire Jesse Stewart concert because a certain long-suffering husband was in danger of losing his toes. Elizabeth was starting to get pretty fussy too, which was not surprising since she hadn't napped or eaten. So I tore myself away and we headed home for a long overdue lunch.