Today, a new exhibit opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Would you believe me if I told you it involves live birds playing electric guitars?

Well, believe me or not, it does. Honestly, when I read about it, I got a shiver of excitement. How extraordinary it seemed. Zahra was still awake reading last night when I decided that we would visit the museum the next day. I told her about the exhibit and her eyes lit up: “We have to go! We have to go!” Zahra and I think alike.

IMG_6156 We needed to go into the city anyway for rock climbing later that afternoon, so we made a day of it. After breakfast, cleaning the chicken coop and playing outside, we finally got into the car at 10:30 and headed downtown. First stop: Musée des Beaux-Arts. The exhibit was called ‘From here to ear’. We weren’t allowed to take any photos. The other two rules were no touching and no talking. The museum guard gave me a sideways glance, as I was the only person taking children into the exhibit. But she needn’t have worried: they were golden.

I’m sure any description I give you of the exhibit won’t do it justice. Click here to read more on the museum’s website. We entered through two sets of metal curtains (to keep the birds in). The room was blindingly white. There were tiled paths, and in between the paths were rocky areas with electric guitars on stands, connected to amplifiers that stood along the sides. On the walls were large white squares with little holes in them: nests for the birds. Over 50 zebra finches with bright orange beaks were flying around the room—and landing on the guitar strings. At first, we just walked around, taking it all in, listening to the strange music made by the birds. Then we sat still and focused on one guitar in particular, making the connection between a bird landing and a note being played. At one point, two birds were jumping back and forth at each other, and the rhythm they were playing enchanted us. The kids were in awe and had no problem respecting the rules. Zahra would have stayed all day if I let her.

IMG_6162When we did leave the exhibit, the kids wanted more, so we went upstairs to the Inuit art section. It fit in nicely with the mythology we had been reading, as many of the pieces are based on Inuit myths and legends. There was one piece depicting a sea monster underneath a glacier, and above a tiny boat with people in it, with which the kids were fascinated. The sea monster represented the force and power of the natural world and the Inuit traditions, whereas the tiny boat with people represented the Canadian government. It was beautiful, and we talked a lot about what that piece was telling us. There were also several stone and bone sculptures depicting typical Inuit scenes. Leila, of course, found the one of “the mommy wearing the baby”.

After we left the museum, we went out for lunch.

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We also had another mission. Remember our world religions study? I wanted to follow up on that with visits to places of worship of the four religions we studied (Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism). My kids are regularly inside our small, simple Anglican church, and they sometimes accompany Saïd to prayers at a small mosque, but I wanted to show them the most impressive examples of houses of worship. So this afternoon, we visited Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral.

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It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring place (once you get past the gift shop in the front hall, ahem). We walked all the way around the church, stopping to look at the statues of saints, the carvings of scenes in the New Testament, and the impressive altar. We even saw a priest who was available for confessions.

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They were so quiet and so respectful and asked interesting questions. I would have liked to take them to Notre-Dame Basilica as well, but the city traffic and lack of parking was making me grumpy. Instead, we played in a nearby park until it was time to go to rock climbing lessons.

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We climbed from 5:00 to 8:00 and then came home for a quick dinner, pyjamas and bed. As I was brushing Leila’s teeth, she looked up at me sleepily and said, “I’m already in my pyjamas.” “That’s right,” I replied. Her eyes big, she whispered, “I was wearing pyjamas all day?” I guess she missed the part where we were changing her out of her clothes, haha!