“A pub can be a magical place” – Rhys Ifan (a lovely quote found on a signboard at the George Pub in London, UK)
The scent of sweet maple and evergreen commingle on dry November days not seen in decades making walks through the forest a sensory delight. There are still drifts of orange and burgundy lying in fairy rings below almost bare trees, the neighbourhood crows tossing the abandoned leaves about as they forage – this November weather providing an embarrassment of riches for all winged and furry creatures before the bite of winter descends.
We are on the eve of travelling back east to spend part of the upcoming holiday season with family with a first time visit to London, England to catch up with other members, some for the very first time – a winter holiday like no other! I imagine returning home, my inner world changed and rearranged, filled with whirling mosaics of new sights and sounds.
Sitting here now at YVR (Vancouver) airport, we are bundled up for the colder temperatures to come, the apartment locked up and tidy- we have lovely neighbours looking after our boisterous spider plants and keeping an eye on our front door ( thank you dear Huguette and Trevor!) as we’ll be gone for almost a month.
After a smooth flight, we land at YYZ (Toronto) to begin the first part of our journey, it starts with a wonderful road trip up north to Haliburton, Ontario among lakes and forest, part of the rugged Canadian Shield. With holiday carols playing on the radio we pass lovely homes festooned in bright red ribbons some with cheerful inflated winter figures waving as we pass by. As we got closer to our destination, we came upon a small century old church with a delicate stained-glass window sitting by the road in a winter wonderland. This part of the world guarantees a magical Christmas feeling everywhere you look! In front of a warm fire, the first breath of true winter arrived amid the light and sparkle as fresh glasses of rose-coloured wine over ice were sipped, laughter and reminiscing filling the air. The next day, we were delighted to see wild turkeys on the property, their dark feathers in stark contrast against the downy snowdrifts.
Christmas Day finds us in Paris, Ontario at the stone house that wants to be a farm on a country road surrounded by leafless birch and evergreen. We stayed two nights and heard the Great Horned owl hooting in the large walnut tree before we closed our eyes. Our days were filled with tasty slices of turkey, squares of delicious egg casserole and glasses of dark red wine. Seventeen people sat down for Christmas dinner, four tables set with pewter chargers ready for laden antique blue and white plates, the dining room glowing with lit lanterns on each table. On our last night, Longfellow, formerly a stray cat, graced our bed for a few hours, his purrs sending us off to restorative sleep.
Other days were spent in Ajax, Ontario on the edge of Lake Ontario walking the family dog through woodland touched with ice. After a good meal, we often settled in to watch movies, hockey and basketball on TV with a glass of Harp Lager anticipating our impending trip to London. As we pack for the next part of our journey, we’re feeling very relaxed and blessed to have spent time with family this holiday season.