Saturday, September 7, 2013

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
     But came the waves and washed it away:
     Again I wrote it with a second hand,
     But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
     A mortal thing so to immortalize!
     For I myself shall like to this decay,
     And eek my name be wiped out likewise.

                       from Amoretti, Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser 

I love underground and offbeat tours, so when we visited Montreal a couple of weeks ago, I was all over a visit to the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

One description read:

Pointe-à-Callière is a national historic site rising above the actual remains of the city's birthplace. It takes visitors on an authentic archaeological tour from the 14th century, when Natives camped on the site, right up to the present. They'll see Native artefacts, the city's first Catholic cemetery, its first marketplace, and lots more. Cutting-edge technology and a multimedia show bring Montréal's past to life in a whole new light. The Museum's contemporary building is linked by an underground passage to the Ancienne Douane, Montréal's first Custom House, leading through an archaeological crypt safeguarding more than six centuries of history, beneath the raised portion of Place Royale.

It sounded really cool -- go underground (literally) and view remains of the city dating back to the 14th century. We couldn't wait.1

The remains of one of the buildings struck me particularly. It was the broken foundation of a building described as a house that was once five stories high. I could imagine it -- quite a grand house for its time. Quarrying, cutting, and moving all the stone used to build it must have been a monumental task. I wonder about the man who ordered its construction. To build a house that big, he must have invested a lot of time and care in designing and building it. And now, a few centuries later, there's almost nothing to show for all his effort.

Seeing the rubble, it made me wonder what exactly it is that I'm building with my days. I've never even attempted to undertake a project even a fraction as grand as that house must have been. Most of my time is spent so mundanely -- packing lunches, wiping fingerprints, mopping messes. The efforts I make rarely last even thirty minutes. I might as well be writing my name in the sand. The tides can make my pains its prey because I don't feel like the wise man building on the rock. More like the fool.

I suppose that every mom goes through the blahs like this. The sun will probably come out tomorrow.


1 Now that I've made the museum seem like some kind of great experience, I feel compelled to provide a caveat to the would-be traveller. If you plan to see it, don't. Overall, it was not nearly as awesome as I'd hoped. In the museum's defense, we opted to skip the guided tour because it's really hard to keep a 3-year-old patient and non-disruptive. Possibly, a guide would have made it much more interesting. Exploring on our own, though, we concluded it was indeed the dullest, most uninteresting museum we've ever visited. They had a Beatles exhibit as well, which was lame. Seriously, how does someone make the Beatles boring? I was so disappointed I actually considered asking for my money back.


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