I’m sure most couples who plan a babymoon look to warmer climates for a romantic getaway. Not us. Weretoad and I looked north and went to Ottawa, Ontario. We so enjoy that city, and being winter-tolerant folk to begin with, it just felt right. (Not to mention it’s only a couple hours away which meant it was more affordable than a more exotic locale!) I really wanted to visit the National Gallery of Canada. In past visits, we’ve checked out the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian Museum of Civilizations, and the Bytown Museum as part of a very fun Haunted Walk. Visiting the gallery felt right for a babymoon since I can’t see us visiting one with the babe until he or she grows up a little.
The Gallery was massive. It took us a few hours to get through it all. Some of the pieces were so-so or unimpressive, but I feel that is more likely the larger the space to fill. There were plenty of beautiful examples. My favorite pieces were usually landscapes (including one by a favorite artist of mine – Thomas Cole), some examples from Monet and Picasso, and work by a Canadian named Lawren Harris. I think my favorite overall exhibits contained examples of Inuit art, Indian sculptures (including a beautiful Ganesha), and this ridiculously fun art installment by Martin Creed. He filled a room with twenty thousand black balloons for people to walk around in! It made me feel all at once childlike and scared at the same time. The balloons were usually over my head and I kept worrying I’d lose my husband!
My absolute favorite painting was from the German Renaissance by someone named Lucas (the Elder) Cranach. Simply titled “Venus,” it is the typical portrait of the Goddess in nude. What struck me about the piece was its simplicity. The background is all black – it is simply the Roman Goddess of love and beauty, naked save a necklace and a bit of delicate, gauzy fabric. While she is certainly beautiful by today’s standards, she is also not the supermodel of our times. Her breasts are small and she has a bit of a double chin! And yet… she is such a strikingly beautiful figure despite that. Normally, Venus is a Goddess I keep a wide berth of. I don’t work with Roman deities to begin with, and her Greek counterpart’s lore makes me a little uncomfortable. And yet this time, before the almost life-size image, I felt at ease, welcomed, and in a sort of fellowship. She seemed to say, with her strong gaze and soft smile, “be confident for you are beautiful too!” It is very easy to feel less than sexy when you’re bulging with baby weight, and I suffer from bouts of negative body-image to begin with. I mentally thanked and praised her. I found a postcard version at the gift shop and bought it. It’s now framed on my dresser to remind me of that confidence.