Birds, Beets, & Berries

Old fashioned milk containers painted white, linked together with chain around a curved driveway under trees.

While in thesis writing mode, my mum coaxed me out of Toronto with the promise of steak from Lake Land Meats for dinner. She surprised me at the St. Catharines bus station with a picnic basket in tow and drove to Charles Daley Park. I have many memories of there from when I a child, eating watermelon, building sand castles for my trolls, and going on adventures through the tall grasses and trees bordering the water. Settling ourselves under a tree, we watched swimmers run into the waves of Lake Ontario and couples walk their dogs along the beach. We stayed in the shade however, munching on cold chicken, beets, radishes, and shared a delicious herb croissant.

Close-up of a woman's hands on her knees as she lays on the ground next to a sun hat and picnic basket.

After lunch, we drove to Dillon’s Distillers to check out the small batch distillery, which uses locally sourced ingredients from the region. We had a tasting of their spirits and could fully appreciate their unique floral aroma. We then finished our visit with a rhubarb cocktail outside in the sun where Mum read a magazine as I documented Dillon’s pacakging design on Instagram. Dillon’s Distillers is indeed a new stop along the Niagara Wine Route that I encourage friends to make. Not only did I love their products, but I was also head-over-heels with their branding! It was current, unified, and beautifully orchestrated across each product, the store interior, shopping bags, and website. I was impressed.

Beets in red water

On our way back into town, we stopped in Whispering Pines which has become my favourite Niagara fruit stand (if you can call it that) as it always has visual delights to photograph. There were baby ducklings, beets, and berries to amuse myself with as my mother picked out her vegetables. Unfortunately, the baby ducks playing in a puddle made by a tractor wheel didn’t stay as still as fresh beets in a basin of water to have their picture taken.

After doing some shopping for our upcoming backcountry camping trip in Charleston Lake, we returned home for dinner. Mum made steak on the BBQ with strawberry ice cream and local rhubarb for dessert. We then watched an episode of Inspector Lewis on the television to end a lovely day together.

It was well worth the trek to Niagara!


Beautiful Skies

A patch of sun during an afternoon's walk with dramatically changeable weather.

I made up for my lack of social life this week. I got out from behind the computer monitor and went on a class trip to O. Noir on Tuesday. It’s a restaurant where the dining area is in complete darkness and the serving staff are blind. We thought it would be the perfect class social event as it would give us an idea of what it would be to be blind!

We ordered our meals in the lit lobby (I ordered the ‘surprise’) before being let into a pitch dark room and sat down at a table together. We couldn’t see a thing! It was most interesting. I had a salad followed by a soft red meat with potatoes and green beans. It was an interesting experience, although one I wouldn’t rush to repeat as the service was most unfriendly.

My cousin Kate and her husband Duane were in Toronto on Thursday. I met them for a drink on a patio near their hotel on Queens Quay.  It was nice to see them and we shared funny stories. After a pint, I met up with Daddy and Judy who took me out for fish and chips. After telling them all about school, we went out for ice cream at Ed’s Real Scoop where I had a delicious cone of honey ginger ice cream!

On Friday we had an end-of-course party at OCADU. There was wine and a variety of lasagna served. I was a little shy and shocked that class was actually over, but eventually I warmed up to conversation.  It was a pleasant evening.

When I got home, Kai was playing music and drinking champagne. We ended up going through his whole music collection and I transferred a couple CDs of his onto my computer. We had a fun farewell evening together!

The following morning Daddy came to pick me up and we drove to the Toronto Island with Judy for a picnic. Judy had packed the most amazing spread. There were black olives, stuffed green olives, goat camembert cheese, ripened cheese, brie, dill havarti, 3 kinds of Ace bread, spinach puff pastries, cherries, strawberries, melon, and so much more! It was enough food to feed an army!

We spread a blanket out under a big old tree by the beach. It was so nice to stretch out on the grass. We munched happily away, enjoying watching the dogs go by. It was most pleasant!

Dad and I drove home to Niagara that evening. The following afternoon Mum and I went for a nature walk in a revitalized quarry. There was a storm on the horizon which made it most exciting. A high wind tossed the high grasses around as dark clouds collected in the blue sky. It was most dramatic.

We sat in the back porch for dinner that evening, listening to the rain pound down and thunder grumble in the distance. The washing on the line enjoyed an extra rinse and the garden gleamed green. It was a beautiful end to the week.