Thanksgiving Day Hike

As is often our tradition, we do a hike on Thanksgiving Day weekend. Today we went to Foley Mountain Park in Westport, ON. The air was fresh, the sky was blue, and the trees were just beginning to colour.

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We followed the Orange Maple Trail

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The trail wound through young forest on the rocky Canadian Shield.

The canopy was beginning to turn colour.

The canopy was beginning to turn colour.

And closer to Big Rideau Lake the colours were more vibrant.

And closer to Upper Rideau Lake the colours were more vibrant.

We enjoyed exercise, fresh air, and sunshine.

We enjoyed exercise, fresh air, and sunshine.

And also enjoyed moments of beauty...

And also enjoyed moments of beauty…

and serenity.

and serenity.

We're pretty sure we saw a bear paw print in the sand. What do you think?

We’re pretty sure we saw a bear paw print in the sand. What do you think?

It was an afternoon of blessing and goodness. Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

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Kouchibouguac Equipped Camping

On Labour Day, my husband and I drove our daughter to University in New Brunswick for her freshman year. And then the two of us went camping at Kouchibouguac National Park , on the eastern shore of NB.

We drove our small Honda Fit for 10 hours to get to campus, and everything “fit”- university essentials from a fan to a floor rug, clothing and personal items, and camping gear for us! The three of us were cozy but we could still see out the back window…

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The pillows were squished down more firmly before we said goodbye at 4:30am!

Moving Day was excellent. We started with a yummy, leisurely breakfast, and then went to campus to register, get keys, make a bed, plug in a lamp, and hang artwork. The weather was fantastic, the people were friendly & helpful, and all-in-all, it was a good launch (despite the mother’s tears…)

The great thing about kids gaining more independence is that the parents do too! My husband (W.) and I now were able to spend 5 nights together with no children and no other obligations, which truly has not happened in many years.

We chose Equipped Camping at Kouchibouguac  National Park because

  1. I love camping and the great outdoors!! (W is just a good sport-it’s not his first pick).
  2. We were travelling in our little car, and had no room for more gear.
  3. It is more economical than staying in a hotel, cottage or kitchenette.

And equipped camping proved to be an excellent choice! We ended up arriving late at the Park- so late, in fact, that it was already mostly dark. We did not have to worry about setting up tents, and all that stuff. We just unlocked the zipper to our prospector tent and walked in. We walked a few sites over to use the washroom facilities, and then we settled down for the night, without even starting a campfire. It was a great relief after a long few days.

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In the daylight…

Unfortunately, in all the busyness, we had neglected to check the weather forecast, and with our lightweight sleeping bags were woefully unprepared for the unseasonable cool night temps! We both shivered the night away, adding multiple layers of clothing as the hours ticked by. (The next night we were better prepared, and the following nights the bundling up was not necessary).

We loved the large equipped site, and would do it again. It included the tent, with two Adirondack chairs, a picnic table with a screened tent, a full BBQ size propane tank with a campstove, and a full shelf of dishes. A clothesline already hung. Everything was very clean and of high quality, and we were impressed.

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The only thing we really regretted NOT having was our own lawnchairs to sit around the fire with. Understandably, the Adirondacks were bolted to the deck.  But hey, we enjoyed s’mores anyway!

A Gardener’s View

I love June!

Here are a few photos of gardens I have been tending. My own, and my friend Pat’s . She and her husband have been on a hiking trek in Europe (see her blog http://www.patanddanmakingtracks.com), and I have had the privilege of tending to the flower beds, as the birds serenaded me in the dappled shade. Enjoy!

Peony

Paeonia

Iris

Papaver

Scabiosa

Baptisia australis

Iris by the St. Lawrence

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Columbine

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Allium

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Rhododendron

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Hosta

Trollius

Moods of the Sky

I love the sky.

I love the backdrop it provides for our lowly activities, like birdwatching, and smiling.

Canadian Geese, Eastern Ontario

Canadian Geese, Eastern Ontario

Sky 3

The sky reflected on the van in this photo of my daughters

I love how picturesque and pastoral the sky can be.

Contentment- but is that the beginning of storm clouds?

Contentment- but is that the beginning of storm clouds?

I love the mystery of the night sky,

Moon over fields and brush, Leeds & Grenville, ON

Moon over fields and brush, Leeds & Grenville, ON

and the surprises that it showcases.

Rainbow, Leeds & Grenville, ON

Rainbow, Leeds & Grenville, ON

I love the drama.

Technicolour Sky over the Confederation Bridge going onto Prince Edward Island

Technicolour Sky over the Confederation Bridge going onto Prince Edward Island

I love the storms.

A story builds over the TransCanada in Northern New Brunswick

A storm builds over the TransCanada HIghway in Northern New Brunswick

 

Clouds building over farm, Leeds & Grenville County, ON

Clouds building over farm, Leeds & Grenville County, ON

 

Storm Brewing, Leeds & Grenville County, ON

Storm Brewing, Leeds & Grenville County, ON

I love the boldness.

View from my deck

View from my deck

And at the end of the day, I really love the serenity.

Sun over the St. Lawrence, Riviere du Loup, PQ

Sun over the St. Lawrence, Riviere du Loup, PQ

 

Soothing Bay of Fundy Sunset

Soothing Bay of Fundy Sunset, Nova Scotia

 

 Calm Bay of Fundy Sky

Calm Bay of Fundy Sky, Nova Scotia

I once read about a woman who survived World War II in a prison cell by looking at the sliver of sky she could see between the bars. When the war was over, she said the sky kept her alive. Gave her hope.

I believe her.

It gives me hope too.

 

Ice & Snow & Winter Blues

It is barely into January, just past Christmas, and already I am longing for spring and green things and eating fresh from the garden.

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Like much of North America, we had a very cold, snowy December. Much colder and snowier than the previous couple of winters. And ice. The big ice storm that crippled Toronto and other places. Today, a flash freeze warning because after the chinook-like above 0*C temperatures and high winds last night, we are headed back into a deep freeze tonight. The kids didn’t have to go to school, but I had to go to work. It was hard to get going in the dark morning.

At work, the roof is leaking and plaster is falling off the ceiling. Lots of excitement. Which I came home to as well. Water leaking in the kitchen because the ice dammed up under the shingles on our 100-year-old-plus saltbox addition. Thankfully, at work, there were a lot of capable volunteers around to work on a solution. And thankfully, at home, my husband is not afraid of hard work, and scooped off sheets of hard-packed snowice.

So what to do to chase the winter blues?

I tend to work on a lot of creative projects, full of colour.

I sew frilly aprons.

Frilly Apron

I make cards.

Card

I crochet. (See another post- Crocheting Dutch Doilies).

The pattern for this can be found at http://solgrim.blogspot.ca/2013/04/flowers-in-snow-pattern-in-english.html

Flowers in the Snow- I found the pattern for this Norwegian afghan online (http://solgrim.blogspot.ca/2013/04/flowers-in-snow-pattern-in-english.html).
I need 192 medallions before I can piece it all together. Right now, I have 102…

I also paint and renovate.

(You really don’t want to see photos of that— you know the saying–  sometimes things get worse before they get better…)

My teenagers are really into real fruit smoothies, and that’s all they want for breakfast lately, so I oblige. No mother ever said no to healthy eating (at least, I hope not!). Lots of colour & nutrients there. A great little pick-me-up during porridge season.

I also pore (pour, poor ?) over seed catalogues, carefully selecting this summer’s crops. (My favourite company is Vesey’s in Prince Edward Island). I love the colour of food I can grow in my own backyard!

And doing all this can help me forget a little the stress of winter, and maybe even make me look forward to winter come next fall. (Maybe).

What do you do to combat the winter blues?

The Tree

This is a guest post that originally began as a Facebook post, by my husband, Winston Visser.

As 2013’s days are numbered, I reflect on a year of loss, transition and opening to other possibilities: My father died at 84, sadly, after several months of worsening health physically and mentally; the practice of my vocation ended, painfully; and my perspective on future possibilities improves, slowly.

During this season I remembered events past. Once upon a time, sometime between 8 and 11 years of age, I trudged through the snow with my father to the tree lot behind the back pasture. We were searching for the perfect Christmas tree in my mind’s eye. We inspected one sparsely branched spruce after another. None looked like the one in my imagination. Christmas Tree

Then, I saw it, in a small clearing, “The Tree” of my dreams! It was 30 feet up! From that perspective it looked perfect. Dad tried to argue me out of it. But I remained rooted in my choice.

So, with axe and saw, we hacked till, with a crack, it fell to be cradled by the snow. Six feet from the top, Dad cut then set it upright. It no longer looked perfect. It was more “Charlie Brown” than “Country Living”.

Disappointed, I wanted to look some more, but Dad said, “No. We’ve done all that work, plus wasted some 24 feet left to decay in the woods.”

So we dragged it home, set it up in a stand and spruced it up with lights, tinsel, bells and a star way on top. These filled it out a bit, bringing it closer to “The Tree” of my dreams.

Most years of my youth included such “uncouth trees”, natural, not nurtured on a lot, disappointing, yet with some decoration: acceptable.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

It could be seen as the story of your and my life: looking for perfection. Then disappointed because it’s not.

Or it could be that each of us is a Charlie Brown Tree, far from perfect.  But once decorated (“clothed” as the Apostle Paul writes) in Christ, perfect in God’s eyes as we’re ever going to be.

May we have eyes to see self and others as God does, throughout every season of loss, transition and possibility!

Enjoy these last days of 2013 living into the possibilities of 2014 including loss and newness.

Blessings to one and all!