It’s warm with a tempting breeze—the kind that beckons you toward refreshing water. Once again, it’s race time for the local sailors on Lake Ontario and they are in need of crew. Now in our 24th day of ongoing engine repair, Trent and I just happen to be available.
The sun is dipping low on the horizon as we make our way on to the dock. The water laps softly beneath our feet as we tread past row after row of occupied boatslips. The surrounding schooners stand like silent sentinels, masts reaching skyward. It’s easy to feel insecure in this unfamiliar space. Yet I know that all that stands between the known and the unknown is the experience that lies before me.
A crew of six welcomes us aboard the Wind Thief. I’m given a brief tour before we shove off and make our way into the harbor. Once we near the starting point of our race, the motor is retired and the sails are hoisted heavenward. Like bees in a flower garden, the sailboats on the lake permeate the horizon, filling it with vertical sheets of white against a backdrop of blue liquid. Continue reading “sailboat racing | Lake Ontario”
I pack lunches and we pile into the van. In a city with 100 waterfalls, it’s high time we visit another. Setting the GPS to Albion Falls, we leave the campground and head southeast. We pass the travel time by listening to Mr. Poppers Penguins.
Twenty minutes later we arrive, exit the van and begin our hike to the falls. The sign near the trailhead warns of poison ivy. Ironically, we feel well prepared to identify and avoid the dangerous flora, thanks to our time in Connecticut. Making our way cautiously down the embankment, we meet the down-flow from the falls and begin to track it to its head.
Characteristically, we hear the falls before seeing it. As we approach, stepping gingerly from one dry rock to another, it becomes immediately obvious that we are not the first ones to traverse this trail. The breathtaking chiaroscuro* filtering through the trees and refracting off the water does nothing to detract from the garbage lying about. Try as I might, I cannot not see the trash. It’s everywhere. Plastic water bottles are piled up in heaps. Empty firework casings from the recent 150-celebration float in the water, helplessly trapped behind a rock. Dirty socks and Tim Horton coffee cups are peeking out from the bushes.
Undaunted, our kids seek out pools of water in which to peer and boulders and rocks begging to be stood upon. In my efforts to take a photo sans garbage, I succeed. Yet I know when I look at the picture in the future, my brain will auto-insert the trash that was so carefully omitted. Continue reading “be the change | Albion Falls, Ontario”
A week ago I waited at the water’s edge, while Trent went sailing on his birthday. As I sat, a crew of rowers cascaded before me, bringing their boats to the lake. With practice and precision they launched their vessels and worked as one, stealthily gliding over the surface of the water. Observing their elegant movements, I longed to join them.
ONE WEEK LATER:
I arrive, fresh and excited, the newest motivated member of the Hamilton Learn-to-Row class. My first lesson includes a 45-minute safety video, practice on an erg machine and time in the rowing tank. I imbibe* all that I can, taking notes and jotting down new rowing vocabulary. Meanwhile, two younger participants (whose parents have prompted their presence) jab each other in jest behind the instructors back.
The following day I’m fifteen minutes early for class. When my rowing partner arrives, we warm up on the erg and prepare our equipment. Neither of us has any experience, which makes us equally unqualified for the task we are about to undertake. Cradling the boat upon our shoulders, we traverse the path to the loading docks. I glance to the left and see the grassy knoll where I sat one-week prior, dreaming of this very moment. As we push off from the dock, and drift away from shore, I realize that I’ve just crossed off a bucket-list item whose ink hardly had time to dry on the page. Continue reading “learning to row | Hamilton, Ontario”
I wake and know immediately where I am—a sure sign that we’ve been firmly planted for some time. Although our surroundings are not new, today’s agenda is: it’s Trent’s birthday. This man is at the quintessential tippy-top of my favorite people list. While previous plans had us celebrating his birthday with family in Minnesota, it’s here and we’re not there—time to get creative.
In Minnesota, Trent would wish for a breakfast of Bismarck donuts, fresh from the local store. Here we will improvise. I’ve been trying out a new bread recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book. It allows me to make dough in large batches and store it up to two weeks in the fridge. Whenever I’m ready for homemade awesomeness, I simply pull off a hunk, let it rise on the counter, then bake till golden. It’s heavenly. This morning we need a taste of heaven. I use the dough to make gooey caramel rolls and our day begins with sugar-laced gluten and a happy birthday song.
The middle of our day is filled with a waterfall hike and eating samples at Costco. Like a tourist, I take photos of the ketchup-flavored potato chips in the snack aisle and poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) available at the food court.
Continue reading “sweet birthday story | Hamilton, Ontario”