“ When snow falls, nature listens.” – Antoinette van Kleeff
Nature’s alarm clock comes in the form of the blackbird chorus that erupts from the bare branches of the large tree one street over. The mornings are much darker now and I’m thankful for the reminder – this is the second year that these new neighbours have moved in from the lagoon (near Stanley Park) to hang out in the trees on various streets leaving their forest selves to become urban dwellers like me. The choir is ever growing and as winter approaches, perhaps there is more food available for them among the trees.
A subtle change in the seasons has announced itself in the freshly fallen snow on the mountains and the dropping temperature – last week on an early morning walk to my yoga/meditation class at our local community centre I was bathed in the first chill of the season and saw a touch of frost on the damp ground of the parklet behind our apartment building. The combination was heady and I felt the staccato sharpness of being alive – at the stop light (red!) I found I was not alone in this particular joy, Lily, a beautiful strawberry blond child was grinning as she held her mother Holly’s hand. As I greeted my neighbours at the crosswalk, she excitedly told me how happy she was to be going to school in the morning (morning preschool) rather than attending in the afternoon – being up and about this grand morning was the best! As I made my way to class, I wrapped her exuberance around me like a warm hug and had one of my best mornings ever. It seems that the gifts of the coming season are making themselves known and I’m starting to gather them close…
The gift of our fall getaway back east to Ontario still warms my heart as winter begins to claim my thoughts here in Vancouver. The vibrant red of the sumac shrubs lining the highway as we made our way up to Haliburton will always call me as will the colourful blue jays and glorious red cardinals that caught our eyes (in both Ajax and Paris). On the pastoral green lawn of the stone house in Paris, I will never forget sitting on the lush grass overlooking a wild protected area (home to coyotes and deer), breathing in the clear autumn air and marveling at the perfection of it all, a moment out of time quickly absorbed by so many sights yet to come.
As our holiday began to wind down we found ourselves embarking on another road trip; traveling with Terry’s sister Sandy and her husband Ian to meet up with Terry’s older sister Karen and younger brother Garth to spend some time in Niagara-On-The-Lake – an area surrounded by many famous wineries; after a leisurely stroll through the town, we found ourselves happily eating some delicious panini’s at a wooden picnic table scratched with the scribbles of previous tourists under a summer-like sun. Later that day, we said a sad good-bye to Sandy and Ian as we made our way to Niagara Falls for a bucket-list overnight stay at the Hilton Niagara Falls/Fairview Hotel & Suites located directly across from the Fallsview Casino. Karen treated us to a stunning room (for the four of us) on the 22nd floor of the 53 storey building and wait for it, overlooking both the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls! To stand at the edge of the large picture window and watch the mist lazily rise from both sets of falls was breathtaking.
Niagara Falls lights up at night, bursting into Christmas-like colours all around with the ever present mist swirling about, after a lovely meal out with cocktails, it was time to check out the casino – we made our way to the walkway to the casino and began to play several slot machines. I can still see all the colour and hear all the sounds, there were many characters there drinking a beer or cocktail and all I could see were lots of twenty dollar bills being eaten by various machines. It was like entering a different world and our tired eyes soon told us it was time to retire to our room to watch the lights dancing through the thundering water before going to sleep, a fitting end to our Ontario getaway!