The farmers' market opened for the season this weekend. There as not much in the way of produce to be had, but all of the craft vendors were out, and the public showed up in droves. In previous years, opening day has often been cool and rainy, but Saturday was warm (almost hot) and dry. The lemonade stand was loving it.
We drove down to the International Peace Garden yesterday. We have tossed around the idea of heading down there for years, but it is about three hours of driving each way so we kept putting it off.
The gardens are built along the border, north-south symmetrical (mostly) with a the chapel and peace tower at one end, and an interesting plateau at the other where there are rows of benches under shelters at either end, facing a fountain that straddles the border. Presumable so that people can sit in either nation and stare at people in the other country.
The chapel is very much an early 1970s design of concrete, limestone and orange glass. They really liked orange glass back in '72. There was muted organ music piped into it, and we were the only ones there at the time (another family came in just as we were leaving). It was really quite peaceful.
I imagine the gardens would be much more interesting in the summer season when everything is in full bloom and the fountains and streams are turned on. On the other hand, there is something to be said for going to a place like this in the off season. I would guess that we encountered no more than a dozen different people during our entire visit.
There was a stark contrast between the Canadian and US side of the gardens - more so outside of the formal garden area. On the US side there was an auditorium, a museum devoted to international game wardens
The biggest difference was when you wandered out of the formal garden area. On the Canadian side, there were picnic areas that looked like they had simply cleared the trees and laid out enough hewn-wood amenities to clearly identify it as a picnic area. They were linked by a narrow, winding roller-coaster of a road that that reluctantly cut through the forest with an economy of clearing. The US side was well-manicured, with clean picnic areas, and a two-lane road with a bicycle lane to boot.
It is all maintained by volunteers, and I don't know if it is a question of funding, bodies, or just differing visions. Either way, it was quite a striking contrast.
One interesting difference in the formal gardens (well, not counting the really nice indoor cactus garden on the US side - though I think that was just outside the formal garden) was this:
On the Canadian side there was as donated carillon, with a moderately cringe-worthy, awkwardly-worded plaque that described the history of how a small church in Brandon had been instrumental in moving it from England to its present location.
On the American side there was a shrine to 911, with some of the twisted and melted girders from the WTC. The shrine itself was actually pleasingly understated, but if I had turned 180° you could see the row of slightly gaudy, full-colour stars&stripes motif boards waxing about the attacks, and how the US had hardened its borders in the wake. I think the row of patriotic info boards did a disservice to an otherwise tasteful exhibit.