Monday, February 8, 2010

The Accidental "O" Fan

In case you were unaware of it, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are being hosted by Vancouver and Whistler BC, Canada.
I was fairly neutral about us hosting the Olympics - I liked the thought of showing off our beautiful province to the rest of the world, but I knew the cost would be extraordinary.  The  security budget alone would be enough to run a small country.  We have homeless people here, and goodness knows the money could be spent on them, or on healthcare, education, etc.
I am a bit of a sucker for amazing athletes striving to be the best, national anthems (especially sung by children),  medals, crowds, excitement, tears, jubilation, triumph, understated national pride (well we ARE Canadian), and all that good stuff. 

Today I was messing about in the kitchen, listening to my Ipod.  Suddenly, above the noise of my tunes, I heard a noise outside.  Some sort of loudspeaker, coming from behind our house.  There is a small ravine and forest between our house and the main street behind it, so most of the normal traffic noise is buffered, but the loudspeaker broke through - right through my closed, double-paned kitchen windows.
At first I thought the neighbour kids were playing the radio on their outdoor speakers, but I soon realized that the sounds I heard were LIVE.

I wondered what it could be, and then had an epiphany.  Turned off the stove, grabbed my house keys and camera, and went out the front door.  I was still wearing my slippers, but didn't want to take time to find socks and put on shoes.

I walked around the block towards the main street and noticed that a crowd had gathered. 
"Did I miss it?", I asked a man who was holding his two young sons.
"No", he said, "Here it comes now!"

And there it was.

First this:

and then this:

and then people started to step out into the street...

and then THIS!

Holy Cow!  An Olympic torch bearer.  Running with a torch - carrying a flame that's burned continuously all the way from Athens, Greece.  For thousands of miles.  Carried and shared by hundreds of people.

He was 10 feet away from me.  Wearing that white (for snow) suit, and those red (for Canada) mittens, with traffic stopped in both directions, and hundreds of people cheering and taking pictures.

It was kind of special.

and then he was gone.  Running on to pass the flame to the next torch bearer.

I felt a surge of emotion, and fought to hold back tears. 

Tell me, is this national pride....

or have I started menopause?


Deborah said...

Oh! Oh! I would have been jumping up and down!! That's amazing that the relay came up that road - and that's too many thats in that sentence and now I'm only making things worse...

I can barely choke out O Canada it makes me so emotional. And I don't even have a flag in my backyard! Although, now that I think of it I used to but it got tattered and I just never replaced it. Jeez, I think I even put it at half mast when somebody died...(loooooooser, I can hear Anne saying...)

And I laughed all the way down the hall to my shower after that last line.

Christine said...

Wow, that must have been pretty amazing.
Over 25 years ago I accidently saw The Pope in a similar fashion, I was walking from work to the station to go home and came to a road that the police had cordoned off, and while I was waiting to get let through The Pope came past in his little Popemobile. I'm not even Catholic but that has stayed with me. I bet this will stay with you the same way

Kathryn said...

Oh, i think that is something to get teary about! I think it is even more exciting that you didn't even realize it but just happened upon it & at just the right time!

Anonymous said...

Not menopause -- Olympic spirit!!
I saw the flame when it came through Calgary and got all choked up when the advance group of police cars came through to block the road....
Then, by luck, I was right where they passed the flame from one torch to the other and that was a teary moment all over again.
I'm glad you got to see it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Canadian and long past menopause.....and I cried reading your comments and looking at the pics...Remember when we were at Butchart and the girl's teams with all their flags from their nations assembled? And the mounties.. I cried then, too....what can I say?
Great pictures and so serendipitous. So glad you didn't miss it. Hugs, viv

Connie Dunton said...

I have had the privilege of seeing the Olympic flame twice in my life, one in Boise, Idaho, (was it during Atlanta or Los Angeles? can't remember) and once here in beautiful Lacey four years ago for the Salt Lake City games. It really is a fantastic (tho over quickly) experience, and it brought tears to my eyes both times!! You're not alone in that respect!! What a wonderful serendipity that it came right past your house!

Jacqueline Korteland Boller said...

How cool, Kathryn!! Is it snowing yet in Vancouver??

Jo said...

WOW!!!!!!!!!! You know, I am excited about the games too. The flame is going to go right past where I work tomorrow at 2:45 in the afternoon. I can hardly wait.

British Columbia used to be a resource based province, but now we need to rely on tourism. What better way to introduce ourselves to the world than through the Olympics. People will come here and see how beautiful this province is.

Keep up the Olympic spirit!