Confessions of a Ballerunner

Essays on Sports, Arts, Culture, and Life

Archive for the tag “Ottawa”

The Four Seasons living in Ottawa: Winter

Well, it was a winter that won’t soon be forgotten. A truly Canadian winter from the days of our youth when the snowsuits were hauled out in November and didn’t come off until April. Even the hardiest, most winter-loving among us have to admit to wondering when that meteorological villain dubbed The Polar Vortex would finally release us from its icy, unyielding grip.

On the positive side, with all that extreme cold, we almost broke a record in Ottawa for longest number of skate days on the Rideau Canal. The protracted deep-freeze also ensured that the ice surface was in pristine condition for just about the whole skating season. The ice was so smooth at times that you could be forgiven for thinking you were skating inside a hockey arena on synthetic ice and not outdoors on a natural rink. What a pleasure it is to skate to work in the morning, get out for some fresh air during your lunch hour, or enjoy a romantic pas de deux with your significant other under the stars at night – especially if there is light snow falling…

There was also plenty of snow to be had this past winter, too, much to the delight of skiers and snowboarders. The cross-country ski season started in December and went right through to April. We are so lucky in Ottawa to live so near Gatineau Park. It’s only a 20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa. Although it is but one of many outdoor recreational sports I engage in, skiing in Gatineau Park is easily my favorite winter activity. There’s nothing like leaving the city behind and winding your way up through the heavily wooded Gatineau Hills for some unparalled aerobic exercise and mental relaxation. No matter how I feel when I leave the city, I always feel amazing after an afternoon of skiing in Gatineau Park.

The photos below were taken this past winter while out skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway or cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park. They were all taken on my iPhone and then edited later in Photoshop. Normally, I would use my SLR camera for photoshoots, but it’s too bulky to carry around when you’re doing sports! Although it is no substitute for a good SLR camera (which you can do so much more with when shooting in manual mode), I was impressed by the quality of the images I was able to get from the iPhone’s camera.

Winter may be harsh at times, but it is truly a beautiful, magical, contemplative season, as eloquently and convincingly argued by Adam Gopnik in his 2011 CBC Massey Lectures series, “Winter: Five Windows on the Season”. I highly recommend listening to the podcast or reading the book. You will gain a new appreciation and perhaps affection for winter.

At the National Arts Centre looking northwest towards Parliament

At the National Arts Centre looking northwest toward Parliament

Skating under the bridge at Patterson Creek to the Rideau Canal

Skating under the bridge at Patterson Creek to the Rideau Canal

Skating after a fresh snowstorm on the canal near Dow's Lake

Skating after a fresh snowstorm on the Rideau Canal near Dow’s Lake

The natural skating oval of Patterson Creek

The natural skating oval of Patterson Creek

Skating near the Bank Street Bridge with Southminster United Church in background

Skating near the Bank Street Bridge with Southminster United Church in the background

Taking a break under the bridge

Skating under Bank Street Bridge

Cross-country skiing through the mist along Ridge Road in Gatineau Park

Cross-country skiing through the mist along Ridge Road in Gatineau Park

The impending storm: descent from Huron Look-out

The impending storm: descent from Huron Look-out

Climbing the Fortune Parkway in Gatineau Park

Climbing the Fortune Parkway in Gatineau Park

The serpentine ascent up the Fortune Parkway to the Lake

The 1.5-km serpentine ascent up the Fortune Parkway to  Fortune Lake

Tough slog up Fortune Parkway

My sister taking a break from the tough slog up an icy Fortune Parkway

The bench at Huron Shelter where skiers take a break from an ascent up Ridge Road or collect the courage for the ride down!

The bench at Huron Shelter where skiers can take a break from the ascent up Ridge Road or summon their courage for the wild ride down!

Last skier out of the park

Nightfall: the parking lot at P9 was abandoned and in almost complete darkness (save for the glow from my headlamp and the lights in the distance from the ski hill at Camp Fortune) after I finished my late afternoon ski in Gatineau Park.

 

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Structure and Function: Line, Light and Shadow in the Byward Market

Fire Escape, Lower Town, Ottawa

Fire Escape

Fire Escape, Lower Town, Ottawa

Fire Escape

Fire Escape, Lower Town, Ottawa

Fire Escape

Church railing

Church railing

Church railing

Church railing

Bricks & bike rack

Bricks & railings

Fountain spray

Fountain

Wrought-iron fence

Fence

U.S. Embassy, Ottawa

U.S. Embassy, Ottawa

After the Rain: An Early Evening Stroll through Major’s Hill Park, Ottawa

Here are some more photos I took after the mini-monsoon we had last Wednesday night in Ottawa. As I mentioned in my last post, I got completely soaked while riding my bike downtown to my photography class that night. I was lucky the air remained warm and the sun only slowly sinking below the horizon as our class was given a 2-hour street photography assignment to complete for that evening’s class.

One of the locations I chose to explore while wandering about was the lush, green, urban oasis of Major’s Hill Park nestled between Parliament Hill and the Byward Market in downtown Ottawa.

The picture below shows a group of planters located at the entrance to the park accessed from MacKenzie Avenue, which I crossed after climbing the stone steps from Sussex Drive. In my last post, I had remarked upon some similarities I had noted between Ottawa’s Lowertown neighborhood in the Byward Market and Paris, France. Major’s Hill Park likewise provided a few reminders of my trip to France last fall.

planters & benches

Below is a picture taken a few steps into the park. You can see the Peace Tower from Parliament Hill in the background. A lone woman is seen walking toward the statue of Colonel John By.

figure & Peace Tower in park_sepia

The setting sun casts long shadows through the tree canopy onto a brightly lit stone drinking water fountain just inside the park.

water fountain

Fittingly, a decorative rail line draws the eye to the luxurious, French-inspired Fairmont Château Laurier, seen in the background. This premier Ottawa hotel conveniently situated next to Parliament Hill was constructed by Charles Melville Hays of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and opened on June 1, 1912, less than two months after his tragic death aboard the ill-fated Titanic. The style, grandeur, and scale of this hotel would not be out of keeping – except by architectural era – among the lavish French castles I visited while in France, in particular the fairy tale Château de Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley.

rail line to Chateau Laurier

I was struck by how much the scene below suddenly transported me back to my first full day in Paris. After checking out a bustling Parisian street market in the 7th arrondissement, I remember walking for some time in the direction of the Eiffel Tower until I came upon the Champs-de-Mars. The sun-drenched wide open green space of Major’s Hill Park with dense, leafy trees on the periphery giving way to the National Gallery of Canada‘s glass-paned Great Hall* in the distance was the kind of dramatic framing that I experienced as I gazed upon the Eiffel Tower from the long, carefully manicured grounds of the Champs-de-Mars. In Paris, however, the lawn was not so deserted of people as it is here in Ottawa. (*Note: The Great Hall is currently shrouded in scaffolding as its glass pyramid-like structure undergoes some needed maintenance work.) On Canada Day, you can expect to see Major’s Hill Park teeming with people late into the night since the park serves as a prime location for hosting festivities and for viewing the evening’s fireworks display.

NGC from park

Yet another Paris reminiscence… While exploring the City of Light one afternoon, I wandered into the Jardin du Luxembourg, and came upon a similar scene where a lone man in business attire sat quietly, slightly hunched over on a park bench, as if to take refuge from the heat of the day under the shade of a great leafy tree.  By comparison, in the scene below in Major’s Hill Park, the man – perhaps a public servant – seated on the park bench appeared to be completely unaware of time, leisurely absorbing the last rays of sunshine – or mentally reviewing the work day that was – before retiring to a nearby pub or an upscale condo in the Byward Market.

man on bench_sepia

This tree-lined, winding section of the park adjacent the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River with its benches and traditional lamp posts was a déja-vu for me as I recalled how hurriedly I had walked along along the Seine one late afternoon, rushing to catch a ride on a departing bâteau-mouche to tour Paris from the water before the light faded to night…

Couple in park_sepia

Before Sunset: Reflections through the Byward Market

Last night was the second class of an SLR photography course I am taking at the School of Photographic Arts in downtown Ottawa. I’d taken and really enjoyed an introductory course there last summer, borrowing a friend’s old, but reliable, Nikon camera. This time around, however, I decided to invest in a comparatively beastly Canon EOS 60D camera, the operation of which, I am still getting familiar. It’s been like going from an old flip phone to a smartphone!

After getting completely drenched during the 7-km bike commute to class from a short but intense rainstorm, I was grateful to learn that we would be spending the majority of the evening roaming the streets of the Byward Market to shoot street scenes. The specific focus for this night’s class was to photograph buildings or their geometric features (e.g., windows, doors, etc), varying the angle of view by alternating between a long versus wide lens. We were given a generous 2 hours for this assignment, ample time for my rain-soaked clothes and hair to dry in the setting sun and warm early evening air.

Eager students, we all ventured off in separate directions, as if on a competitive scavenger hunt, searching for that perfect architectural gem among the many specimens we would collect. Fortunately for us, there is no shortage of interesting architecture, particularly of a historical nature, in the Lowertown district of the Byward Market. At the end of the first hour, I had easily amassed a respectful number of shots for the assignment and so began to turn my attention toward the more whimsical. The following is a sample of some of the self-directed shots I took after completing my ‘homework’.

The image below is a shot of the famous Notre-Dame Basilica located on Sussex Drive opposite the National Gallery of Canada taken at dusk from the corner of avenue Guigues and avenue Parent in Lowertown. I was struck by how much this church reminded me of the beautiful chapel of the ancient Pontlevoy Abbey in France’s Loire Valley, which I had the pleasure of visiting in September 2012. Surprisingly, I found myself transported back to Paris and the Loire Valley several times during this walk as I encountered urban parks, squares and the Château Laurier reminiscent of this inaugural trip to Europe. (Perhaps a sign that I must get back to sorting through my Europe trip pictures for a future posting!)

steeples at sunset

France continued as the theme of the night, as I found myself drawn to a puddle left over by that earlier rainstorm on the steps leading up to verdant Major’s Hill Park from Sussex Drive. The water showed a reflection of the Connaught Building, which resembled an Impressionist painting not unlike an inverted version of Monet’s Rouen Cathedral.

puddle painting 2

This is another shot of that same reflected image of the Connaught Building, but with pedestrians making their way down the steps toward Sussex Drive. I love this photo because it’s so whimsical and looks like the people are walking over a fresh painting. One could easily imagine them jumping through the image, like characters from Mary Poppins, to land at any one of the many French castles dotting the countryside of the bucolic Loire Valley.

puddle painting 1

This last photo is a reflection of a show-stopping blue wedding gown fit for a princess on display in the window of  the high-end wedding boutique, McCaffrey Haute Couture along Sussex Drive. (The American Embassy located on the opposite side of the street can also be seen reflected through the glass.)  I could imagine the late fashion icon, Grace Kelly, making a grand entrance to a royal ball in this lavish frock as smiling courtesans gaze admiringly upon her.

blue wedding dress

Ottawa Race Weekend in Review: Snapshots from 2012 and 2013

This weekend, Ottawa played host to the largest road race in Canada – the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Although it wasn’t sunny & warm like it was for the 2012 edition, the cool temps, gusty north winds, and grey skies for this year’s races nonetheless didn’t stop some record-breaking finishing times.

Like I had done last year, and since I was still dealing with running-related injuries, I decided to practise some action-shooting with my new Canon EOS 60D SLR camera, which is a beast compared to the more vintage (but respectable) Nikon model I was using last year, and also a bit of a challenge familiarizing myself with all its advanced gadgetry! Hopefully, with time and dedicated practice, I will come to tame this beast. I took in the 10-k race on Saturday night (May 26th) and the half-marathon race on Sunday morning (May 27th). Since I’m not a morning person, I opted not to take in the marquée marathon event, since it got underway too bright and early for my liking on Sunday morning at 7:00 AM…

The picture below was taken from the Bank Street Bridge over the Colonel By Parkway. It shows the crowd of 10-k runners closing in on 7 km in the final stretch of their race. The night was sunny, warm, and spectacular for spectators and photographers. If I were running the race, I think I would’ve preferred the cooler conditions we had this weekend. It’s awful to be overheated when you’re running, so a good rule of thumb is to always dress a bit on the cooler side, knowing you’ll warm up as you get going.

2012 10-k race along Colonel By at Bank Street Bridge

2012 10-k race along Colonel By Parkway from Bank Street Bridge

This shot was taken of  some 2012 half-marathon runners progressing past the 4 km mark along the Queen Elizabeth Parkway just before the canal empties into Dow’s Lake. I had found a prime piece of real estate on the grassy median. Prior to descending to this spot, I had been perched atop Bronson Bridge and had a fascinating chat with a fellow SPAO student experimenting with long-exposure photography using a homemade pinhole camera. I never did get to find out how his photograph turned out…

2012 half-marathon race on Queen Elizabeth Parkway at Bronson Bridge

2012 half-marathon race along QE Parkway near Bronson Bridge

This final shot from the 2012 Race Weekend was taken from Bank Street Bridge overlooking the Queen Elizabeth Parkway just over 3 km into the race. You can see the stream of 10-k runners peeking through the trees with the old (now demolished) Frank Clair Stadium in Lansdowne Park in the background. In the foreground, a couple in a canoe alternate between paddling the Rideau Canal and cheering the runners on.

2012 10k race on Queen Elizabeth parkway at Bank Street Bridge pre-Lansdowne demolition

2012 10-k race along QE Parkway at Bank Street Bridge pre-Stadium demolition

A bit of a blurry shot of these super-fast elite women runners (=the leader pack) past 3 km into the 2013 10-k race before they disappeared under the Bank Street Bridge along the Queen Elizabeth Parkway.

2013 10k elite women on QE parkway at Bank Street Bridge

2013 10-k elite women on QE Parkway from Bank Street Bridge

The even faster elite men approaching the 7 km homestretch mark of their 2013 10-k race along the Colonel By Parkway from the Bank Street Bridge.

2013 10k elite men on CBy parkway at Bank Street Bridge

2013 10-k elite men on CBy Parkway from Bank Street Bridge

The leader of the pack after 4 km of the 2013 half-marathon as seen from Bronson Bridge. He clearly owned the road at this point, as the next competitors were several seconds behind him. I actually thought he would overtake the guy on the pacer bicycle, who looked more like a recreational cyclist than serious athlete. This guy, a local Ottawa runner, held the lead and went on to handily win the half-marathon race.

2013 half-marathon elite men leader after 4k on QE Parkway at Bronson Bridge

2013 half-marathon elite men leader after 4 km on QE Parkway from Bronson Bridge

This threesome of cyclists, who I think were probably volunteers with Race Weekend, were particularly spirited with their loud cheers and even louder cowbell. There were plenty of high fives and lots of smiles from those 2013 10-k runners who decided to glance their way or reach out for a high-five. As a spectator, it was quite a festive and fun atmosphere being alongside this group, who were stationed along the Colonel By Parkway just before the ramp to head up to Bank Street (south).

Cowbell-clanging cyclist-cheerers lifting the spirits of weary 10k runners along CBy at Bank Street Bridge

Cowbell-clanging cyclist-cheerers lifting the spirits of weary 10-k runners along CBy Parkway just before Bank Street Bridge

Tinkering with my shutter speed as another group of 2013 10-k runners speeds past me along the Colonel By Parkway just prior to the Bank Street Bridge.

2013 10k runners speeding toward Bank Street Bridge along CBy

2013 10-k runners speeding toward Bank Street Bridge along CBy

A dad encouraged his kids (who were all likely there to cheer on their running wife/mom) to step out and extend a high-five to the 2013 10-k runners making their way into the homestretch along the Colonel By Parkway toward the Bank Street Bridge. The cheering kids were clearly delighted with how many runners obliged them, often flashing them a wide smile. In the background, you can see the steady stream of 10-k runners progressing through the first 3 km of their race on the opposite side of the Rideau Canal on the Queen Elizabeth Parkway. You can also see the huge cranes punching the skyline that have become a permanent fixture in Lansdowne Park as redevelopment is now well underway.

Cheering kids delight in giving 2013 10k racers a much needed high-five along CBy at Bank Street Bridge

Cheering kids delight in giving 2013 10-k racers a much needed high-five along CBy Parkway near Bank Street Bridge

The throng of 2013 half-marathon runners progressing through 4 km of their race along the Queen Elizabeth Parkway as seen from the grassy median before Bronson Bridge. Note the pacer bunny in red in the middle, whose job it is to keep her racers on pace for meeting the group’s finishing time goal; these pacer bunnies are definitely the unsung altruists in the race, putting the glory of others ahead of their own. Having said that, it was interesting to hear how the elite pacer (sans bunny ears) from Kenya initially charged with keeping the elite marathon men’s leader pack (two men for most of the race) on track for challenging a course record decided to throw down against his lone runner protégé from Ethiopia for the gold medal through the final 10-k or so of the race. The Ethiopian runner, however, ultimately eked out the win but with the narrowest of victory margins (i.e., less than seven tenths of a second).

Pace bunnies play an essential role helping 2013 half-marathoners meet their race goals

Pace bunnies play an essential role helping 2013 half-marathoners meet their race goals. (Shot from the grassy median along the QE Parkway just before Bronson Bridge)

This woman cheering on the 2013 10-k runners along Colonel By at the Bank Street (south) ramp was so enthusiastic I thought she had to have been a varsity cheerleader with that energy. Not only did she wave a homemade poster à la American Idol or The Voice with a message she said was designed for no one in particular (‘You are Super-Fantastic!’), but she was also unwavering in her cheering words of encouragement for all the runners who raced past her.

Cheering fan holding poster proclaiming to all 2013 10k runners  'You are super-fantastic!'

‘Cheerleader’ fan holding poster proclaiming to all 2013 10-k runners ‘You are super-fantastic!’

A mass of 2013 half-marathon runners with varying gaits and cadences along the Queen Elizabeth Parkway just before Bronson Bridge. It reminded me of a conversation I had recently with my hard-core, younger running cousins, who are varsity runners in their track & field and cross-country teams at university. They noted that most people do not run as efficiently as they could, in large part because of the tendency to heel-strike instead of striking with the (more aerodynamic) ball of one’s foot. They believe that the less efficient heel strike is as prevalent as it is among recreational runners because of the design of running shoes today, which they say, favors this type of strike. They also spoke of how amusing it was to see how extensively some runners pack their fuel belts with hydration solutions and gels for such relatively short-distance runs; they personally do not don this nearly standard piece of recreational running apparatus. (Since I personally use a fuel belt to run – not to hydrate, however, but to house my i-pod and keys – I must admit to having felt slightly sheepish and a bit uncool owning up to my own habit of regularly cinching up with a fuel belt, despite my non-traditional purpose.)

2013 half-marathoners passing the 4k mark along QE parkway at Bronson Bridge

2013 half-marathoners passing the 4-km mark along the QE Parkway just before Bronson Bridge

The enthusiastic cheering section along Colonel By for the 2013 10-k race. It was such a chilly evening (owing to those strong north winds) standing out there. I actually wore gloves and dressed in layers, but still left prematurely owing to getting chilled! By comparison, this time last year, people would’ve been in tank tops and shorts, and enjoying weekends at the beach or outdoor community pool. I’m not complaining since I don’t love those protracted heat & humidity waves that invariably settle in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor over the summer months, but it seriously felt like a mid to late autumn evening. Nearly ideal for running, though, were it not for those strong headwinds on the final half of the 10-k.

Crowds lined CBy at Bank Street Bridge as the 2013 10k racers closed in on their final 3k

Crowds lined the CBy Parkway near Bank Street Bridge as the 2013 10k racers closed in on their final 3 km.

This is a shot of a particularly determined group of predominantly male 2013 half-marathon runners along the Queen Elizabeth Parkway just before Bronson Bridge. This was a great vantage point for taking some close-up shots of the runners, but I had to be vigilant of where I was in relation to the runners as some who were doubtlessly chasing PBs were so (understandably) intent on breaking free from the pack, that they would off-road it temporarily onto the grassy median where I stood before inserting themselves back onto the road. Fortunately for me and the other spectators, race volunteers were out in force to limit this leap-frogging, likely to minimize the risk of a Betty White-like Snickers ad tackle on an unsuspecting spectator.

2013 half-marathoners pushing toward Bronson Bridge and Dow's Lake after completing 4k

2013 half-marathoners pushing toward Bronson Bridge and Dow’s Lake after completing 4 km

Sartorial-savvy snowman

Sartorial-savvy snowman

One morning, just before the Christmas holidays, while setting off for work, I noticed this dapper little snowman in my neighbor’s front yard. His scarf, so bright and cheerful, was doubtless knit by a doting grandmum. The early-ish morning sunlight peeking through the clouds provided the perfect lighting for his big close-up.

British-inspired snowman with bowler hat

British-inspired snowman with bowler hat

I spotted this sharply-attired snowman in his bowler-like hat a few days ago during my morning trudge to work through the snowy, lakeside park. Clearly, he had been outfitted by a local haberdasher of some repute, who understood the importance of looking one’s best for the grand opening of the Rideau Canal Skateway season and the thousands of skaters who are expected to take to the ice behind this snowy yeoman.

My Sharpie marker sketch of a geographically inaccurate but artistically whimsical map of courtship memories

Being a detailed-oriented person, this art project was a really fun, but painstaking (esp Gothic architecture) drawing:

Image

Photography class field trip: Byward Market, Ottawa

A few weeks ago, our intro SLR photography class at the School of the Photographic Arts in Ottawa went on a field trip to the Byward Market to practise shooting street photography from a parking garage rooftop. Here is a sample of some of the shots I got:

Fabulous blue Mini Cooper

Blue Mini Cooper close-up: love this car…

Lamp post, early evening

Street reflection through the butcher’s window

Yellow bike

Rooftop view of Market buildings

Bike & bricks

Bike pop art

Cupcake Lounge

Street pattern

Downtown Ottawa near the Market

Fire escape detail, downtown Ottawa

Hot summer evening in the Market

Window shopping at night in the Market I

Window shopping at night in the Market II

Little red dress

Along Sussex Drive

An Adam Gopnik-inspired afternoon in the park

Ottawa is a city of hidden gems, I have discovered. Having arrived here almost four years ago (somewhat skeptically) from my beloved Montreal via a short lay-over in my hometown of southern New Brunswick, I had my own preconceived notions of what life in Ottawa would be like. A staid city of stuffy government workers and politicians and extreme athletes with no artistic sensibility, no doubt. The antithesis to Montreal. Well, I wasn’t entirely wrong about the existence of some stuffy government people and extreme athletes, but Ottawa is (surprisingly) so much more than that. Among its many attributes, including a vibrant arts community and flourishing food scene, it boasts some lovely green spaces, particularly urban parks. Happily for this nature-loving, ex-pat Maritimer, many of  these parks also include waterways where all manner of paddling activities can be enjoyed either through direct participation or on-shore observation.

One one recent, sunny, hot Saturday afternoon, I was invited to join my aunt and my cousin’s toddler (=my first cousin once removed?) at ‘their’ park. Knowing I was taking a photography course, my aunt thought it would be an opportunity for me to hone my skills in shooting some action or unposed portrait photography with my (borrowed) DSLR Nikon (D40) camera. At the same time, I would be able to capture some of those precious, fleeting moments shared between a devoted nanna and her wide-eyed, energetic granddaughter.

This park was their urban oasis or ‘secret garden’ to which they ventured every day to play since the apartment building in which they resided only had minimal green space, a trade-off that many urban-dwellers accept in order to live in the city instead of the outlying suburbs. I had not spent any amount of time in this park, other than enjoying a lovely, crisp, winter walk along the snowy river paths with my aunt one late January afternoon. Even then with its bare trees and frozen ground, the park was beautiful, and so I did not hesitate to join them on this summer July day.

Below are a selection of pictures that I took, originally shot in color, but which I transformed into black & white using Photoshop. (I have a real penchant for the artistry of black & white photography.) I shot well over 200 pictures, wanting to ensure I ended up with some good pictures in the bunch. A mid-afternoon outing, it was challenging at times adjusting the exposure to fit the changing light conditions. I also should have increased my shutter speed to freeze the motion on the swings and capture the elusive, parsimonious smiles instead of slowing my shutter speed in a bid to show motion through a blur; these pictures did not turn out, unfortunately. However, there were (thankfully) quite a few others I did like; among them a couple of color photos that just had to be retained as color images in order to appreciate their full effect.  Throughout my largely successful attempts at being the unobtrusive, roving photographer, I was struck by how the scenes playing out before me kept reminding me of the wonderful imagery described so eloquently by Adam Gopnik in his highly acclaimed memoir — Paris to the Moon — of his years spent living in Paris with his family and raising his young son. Ottawa is definitely not Paris but this park had a certain charm to it, perhaps not unlike that of the famous Jardin du Luxembourg, where Adam Gopnik would take his son to play.

Getting set to tame the teeter-totter

Contemplating the stairs to the slide

Hunting for her rock in the sandbox

Passionate about balls, a budding young striker develops her dribbling skills

Giving her beloved soccer ball some love

Exchanging a handful of flowers

Seeking comfort from Nanna

Getting a closer look at the curious case of the blue chair in the pond

Making their way home after another long, warm, sunny afternoon in their favorite park

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