Its no secret that I spend a lot of time at the cafe while I'm working. Id like to say that its a part of my routine, but it is probably more of an addiction. Sometimes I just stop in to get a fix of caffeine to start my days, but when I have the time to stay and work I'll indulge in an espresso. The morning that I met Brenda was a grab-and-go type of day.
Listening to people when they are talking nearby is part of my nature. I dont often react when I overhear other peoples conversations, but when Brenda mentioned to one of the baristas that she worked with museums, curiosity got the better of me. I had to know more.
Brenda is a detective. She goes out into the community to help museums find people whose stories and artifacts to be shared. She had just finished working with the Military Museums in Calgary on an installation called The Maple Leaf And The Tulip: The Liberation Of Holland In The Second World War. After introductions, we chatted for a while about her work, community, and about kokedama. She was intrigued by the idea of bringing nature inside to create a calm and peaceful focal point in contrast to our busy lives.
It was a pleasant conversation but we both had schedules to keep, places to go, and people to see. After a too-short time, we exchanged contact information and went on our separate ways.
I didnt have long to wait before I spoke to Brenda again. A few days later, she emailed to ask if I would be interested in visiting her new installation at the Military Museums and using my impressions of the exhibit to create a kokedama piece for her home.
Brenda had such appreciation for kokedama and for the aesthetic that I had described that I couldnt refuse. I agreed to visit the museum the following day.
As I followed the winding road to the museum, I didnt quite know what to expect. I had never been to the Military Museums, nor had I spent much time considering the Canadian involvement in Holland's liberation during the Second World War. I admit to feeling some trepedation as I paid my admission to the museum and went in search of the installation.
The exhibit that Brenda had helped work on was eye opening in its beauty even as its haunting message touched my soul. I was struck with sorrow as I came to understand the struggle of the German occupation and the desperation of the fight for Dutch freedom.
This was nothing like the Canadian history that is taught in schools. It was striking how real, how personal the desperation embodied by this exhibit felt. Perhaps it was simply the innocence of youth that prevented me from really understanding the horrors of war as it was taught in school, and perhaps it simply took this new perspective for me to finally understand the depth of pain and the struggles that these brave souls faced. The battles that I have fought in my life paled in the face of the sacrifices made by the Dutch and Canadian Soldiers.
I had to sit. Reflect.
When I left the museum I was humbled, heart full and mind spinning.
Interwoven with the emotion provoked by the fight for Holland's freedom is the knowledge that something amazing came of Canada's involvement. When Canada stepped in and fought for Holland, we joined the Dutch as comrades in arms and in a brotherhood that will last forever.
The Dutch built enviable relationships with our Canadian soldiers. They married, they started families, and they remembered. To this day, Dutch children tend to the graves of the Canadian soldiers who fought for the freedom their country. They will not forget.
This, then, was the beauty threaded through the sorrow that I wanted to highlight.
Each floral element of the piece that I created for Brenda's home was chosen for one of the elements I wanted to highlight of the memory of the liberation: The emergence and growth of the Dutch, the sacrifices of the soldiers, and the sup
In my heart I know that it is only a small memorial to honor the bravery of those who fought for their country and their freedom, but it is my hope that it will help us remember the journey that brought us here and to celebrate the ongoing relationship between our peoples.