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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Footprints in the Snow

Footprints in the Snow

The Beautiful Quirke Lake
After several dull days, it was great to see the clear blue sky with the sun shining gloriously this morning. The snowfall of the last few days still had some of the branches covered in sparkling white and so we headed to one of our favourite walks at the end of Panel Mine Road, just north of Elliot Lake. We decided to walk to the beach where, last winter, we promised ourselves that we would swim in Quirke Lake. Alas, our promises were made null and void when the access road was closed for most of the summer for bridge repairs! 

This morning, the cool air welcomed us as we set off along the trail that follows the edge of the lake. Although we have been on this trail several times, we are still in awe of the spectacular scenery as it unfolds before us. 

Along the trail, we noticed two sets of footprints which, we think, may have been made by foxes. We know that there are two in that particular area as we spent some time with them in the Fall of 2013. It was interesting to follow the prints as they revealed the story of what had happened earlier. Sometimes, the two sets of prints were overlaid on top of each other suggesting that one fox had followed the other. 

Trail left by foxes?

At other times, they separated for a short distance, sometimes going off into the bush and back again. 

Deer tracks?
There were also some larger prints that were left by a deer that had been foraging for food earlier in the day (or at least since the last fall of snow). 

It got me thinking of a text book that I used to teach comprehension to my students. Brought over from the U.K., the page being referred to showed the aftermath of a cyclist's collision with a car after a dog had run across the road in pursuit of a cat. The whole story had to be reconstructed by the tell-tale marks left in the snow. It was always a favourite lesson. 

It also reminded me that we leave footprints in life... and in the lives of others. The things we do and say, no matter how small or large, leave an imprint that touches others for better or worse. It behooves us of the need to tread carefully. 

Maybe at this time of year, in our interactions with those around us, we can leave each person feeling better for having been in our presence; feeling uplifted because of something we have said or done. The gift of ourselves and our time is worth far more than anything wrapped and placed under the tree.  
The footprints left in the snow will gradually disappear. The footprints we leave in the lives of others will stay with them for a very long time - maybe for the rest of their lives. 

Solutions 4 U !


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Friday, 28 November 2014

Cheeseplate? I don't think so!!!

Cheese plate?  I don't think so!!

Since we first moved to Barrie, back in 2004, we were drawn to participate in the annual 'Homes for the Holidays' event, exquisitely organized by the May Court Club of Barrie. This weekend-long event usually occurs towards the end of November and features 6 homes which have been staged by local sponsors, home owners, florists, and decorators. 

Each year, the 'Homes for the Holidays' tour raises thousands of dollars for local charities, families, and individuals. The homes selected each year vary in size, style, and location. Patrons get to visit each home in any order, and are treated to a lovely scone baked on site, together with butter, strawberry jam, and tea or coffee. This year, the venue for the 'Tea Room' was the Lion's Gate Banquet Hall on Blake Street. 

Normally, we leave the tea room experience to the end. This year, however, as we were heading back to Elliot Lake, after visiting friends and family in Southern Ontario, we went straight to the tea room, and visited the two homes in town before viewing the ones just outside of Barrie, and a little further north in Oro-Medonte.

The homes ranged from being over 100 years old, to recently built, and the decorations served well in planting the Christmas spirit firmly in our hearts as we start off our annual season of movie-watching, CD listening, and card-writing etc. We had missed last year's event, but timed our visit to coincide with this year's occasion. 

Beauty - in town!

Near Snow Valley

Near Snow Valley

Beautiful Farmhouse in Oro-Medonte

Terrific view of Kempenfelt Bay

Eco-friendly home

So..... what's this got to do with cheese plates?  

Well, as some of you may know, I have a slight hearing issue which results, not so much in being unable to hear, but in mis-hearing what is said - something to which some of my recent students may attest!! 

When I went into the May Court Club store to purchase the booklets (which act as tickets), I asked if the routine was the same - that it had to be presented at the first venue. When the wonderful woman at the desk replied, I could have sworn that she said, 'You have to present a cheese plate!' 

My first reaction was to think, 'That's new!'.... and I thought that maybe they were encouraging contributions so that visitors could have a nibble as well as view the interior of these beautiful homes. 

In astonishment, I asked if this was just at the first venue, or whether it was for every venue, thinking that 6 cheese plates would add considerably to the cost of the event! When she repeated that it was to be presented at every venue where they would check off the box for every home, I realized my mistake. She had really said, 'You have to present (the ticket) at EACH PLACE!' Now, maybe you can't hear the similarity between 'each place' and 'cheese plate', but when you have a hearing issue where the consonants can be confused, you can see clearly how the misunderstanding could have occurred!!

It was with relish that I shared my error with the two women in the store and we all saw the funny side of it and enjoyed the moment of humour. You can imagine my joy when I realized that I had a new funny story to share!! 

I can thoroughly recommend this annual house tour. It is extremely well-organized, and the volunteers are exceptional in their desire to furnish information about the homes, as well as outstanding in making each person feel important and looked after. 

If you have never been to this event, watch out for it next year. We will, for sure - with or without cheese plates!

Courtesy of:  
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Thursday, 6 November 2014

The End of the Road....

The End of the Road
November 6th, 2014

I have always been the kind of person who wonders...  who wants to know and experience new things. Nothing makes this more obvious when presented with a trail, a track, or a road that I haven't been on. I have this burning desire to KNOW what is at the end of that road.

Within the first few years of my arrival in Canada, this quest led me to discover Airport Road, just N.E. of Toronto. I remember driving on my own as far north as Hwy 9 and thinking, I'd better turn back as I felt I'd ventured into the far north!  Little did I know!!   On another adventure on this road, I discovered Wasaga Beach was at the end of the road - but there were some beautiful vistas to be encountered on the way - Hockley Valley among them. The thirst to know where roads lead to has not left me. In fact, it has been enhanced since I've hooked up with Mark, who also has this unquenchable thirst for exploring.

Yesterday, we headed out for a drive and a short hike. I wasn't feeling 100%, so didn't feel like going too far. Little Lake Bog, just off Hwy 17, gave us some excellent shots of some interesting fungi. After a quick bite for lunch in Blind River, we headed north along Hwy 557 towards Cataract River and Falls - one of our favourite places. Before we arrived there, the question had been presented - where does this road lead to? Mark remembered going to the very end of it last year,
but I couldn't remember, so we decided to 'do the falls' on the way back.

Along the way, we saw several roads, leading off from the left and the right, that intrigued us. We decided that they should be investigated after on the return drive.

One such road took us to Lower Cranberry Lake and Lake Duborne - connected with each other by a river with rapids and two small waterfalls. 

Another road - Hope Lake Road - led us to the southern end of Chiblow Lake, where we discovered some great trails along the shoreline. Both the rapids and falls of the earlier lakes, and the vistas afforded by Lake Chiblow  added to the experience and provided reason for pics to be taken.

Interesting Ridge alongside Lower Cranberry Lake

Different colours in the water

Hunting Platform on the trail

Negotiating the trail wasn't without its challenges

What had started out as a plan to stay local and keep it short, ended up with exploration which took over 3 hours of hiking. Not only that, but being in nature restored my spirits and gave me back my energy. As a friend told me earlier that day - just being out in the fresh air and getting the muscles moving works wonders!

It certainly did!

We never did make it back to Cataract Falls yesterday, but I'm looking forward to future trips to find out what is at the end of the road!


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Friday, 24 October 2014

Community Spirit - The Beauty of Brechin!

Community Spirit - The Beauty of Brechin!

I've always been impressed with the small town of Brechin, just 20 minutes (23 km) south east of Orillia, Ontario. 

Last year, during my final month of teaching before I retired, I had the pleasure of staying in a friend's cottage in Bolsover. Several times during that June, I traveled through Brechin on my way up north and was charmed by the town's display of old bicycles that had been painted in vivid colours and decorated with floral arrangements. There must be 20 or more of these bikes that pepper both sides of the road as you journey through the town. Each one was unique, and added a great dimension to this picturesque place. 

Earlier this week, we returned home from an overnight stay at Bolsover and were treated to the latest demonstration of community spirit. All of the bikes were decorated and ready for Halloween. Again, each one was unique in its creativity. 

Such was the appeal, that we turned around and drove back and forth along Highway 12 to make sure we captured each individual display. 

It warms the heart to see that the Small Town Spirit is still alive and well in Brechin!

(We sure will!)

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