Happy trails

Girl at trailhead

Eastern Ontario is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise thanks to the miles of abandoned rail beds that have been converted into trails.

A couple of weeks ago, Clare and I hiked a new portion of the trail. We started in Harrowsmith, which is the junction of the K&P Trail and Cataraqui Trail. It was a windy spring day, and the fur of our great Pyrenees Bella shimmered and rippled in the breeze like the rushes in the neighbouring wetlands. It was a great day to get out, enjoy the spring sunshine, clear our heads and get some exercise.

Dog in breeze

The Kingston and Pembroke trail was an old railway that ran from Kingston Renfrew. It was abandoned by Canadian Pacific Railway between 1962 and 1986 before being taken over by the City of Kingston and Township of South Frontenac. Most of the trail is now complete up to Sharbot Lake, except for a small stretch near Tichborne.

The Cataraqui Trail is 104 kms long and was the rail line operated by Canadian National. The 78.2 km section from Smiths Falls to Harrowsmith is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Harrowsmith is an excellent starting point since the two trails connect there with four different routes to hike.

We watched ducks and geese in the marshes, saw baby cows in the farmer’s fields and ate lunch overlooking a beautiful vista.

I’m always surprised how many people in Kingston don’t venture north of the city. This week’s #HappyAct is to get out and discover the beautiful trails north of the city. And best of all, it’s free!

Signpost on the K&P Trail

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Just don’t call me late for dinner

Family eating at potluckCall it a potluck, call it a smorgasborg, call it what you will, just don’t call me late for dinner.

Last weekend, our Frontenac Fury Girls Hockey Association held our annual hockey banquet and potluck.

It’s always a nice way to mark the end of the hockey season, recognize the girls’ achievements and share some laughs before all the hockey families hang up our sticks for the season.

But just like our girls would have going into any big game, it’s important to have a strategy when the pot drops at a potluck. Here are a few tips from a seasoned veteran in the line-up.

  • Always get in line before the biggest guy in the room
  • Scan the venue and your competition to scope out the best grub
  • Don’t fill your plate with too many salads or bread—save room for the main event
  • Enjoy the small talk during the intermissions between refills
  • Never take the last meatball or you may wind up in the penalty box
  • Unlike hockey, icing is a good thing at a potluck
  • When it comes to dessert, go for a hat trick
  • And make sure you give thanks for the big, warm extended family you’re breaking bread with

This week’s #HappyAct is to plan a potluck or smorgasborg and enjoy! And congratulations and thanks to all the Frontenac Fury teams and families for another fun, successful year. We’ll see you in the fall!Plate full of food

Potluck kitchen

Hockey families at banquet

It’s time to jump in the lake—the Leafs are in the playoffs

We live in great white north eh, where we sip syrup and play hockey. Before we learn to walk we learn to cross check properly.

Hey B.Rich, got a newsflash for you bud, it’s time to break out your swimming trunks. The Leafs are in the playoffs.

For the next eight weeks, it will be all hockey, all the time, and while we’re polite and live in a land where there’s ice six months of the year, eh, we’re not as nice on the ice.

This week’s #HappyAct is to cheer on our Canadian teams during round one. Let’s show the fellers down south a cross check or two. G’day eh.

For inspiration, make sure you watch B.Rich’s TSN Sports Centre video.

Special shout out to Mike Smith on his shutout in game 1 for Calgary. On Coaches’ Corner last night Don Cherry said he was from Kingston, but he’s actually a good ol’ Verona boy. I saw his Mom out for a rip the other night walking the dog. And B.Rich is a good ol’ Tamworth boy. Guess all the best things come from north of Kingston in the great white north.

The most important man in your life

My mechanic

I’ve been keeping a little secret from my husband: he’s not the most important man in my life.

The most important man in my life likes things fast, is good with his hands and is a man of few words.

His name is Jeremy Tinline, and he is the head mechanic and owner of Vic’s Auto in Kingston.

When it comes to your mechanic, you want someone you can rely on, who will see you at a moment’s notice, who will take care of your every need and make you feel safe.

Jeremy and his team at Vic’s Auto do just that. Whenever I’ve had an issue with my car, they take me right away, often will give me a loaner for the day, and always make sure I’m back on the road in no time.

As a small business owner, Jeremy is usually in the shop early in the morning, and can still be there working after 5 when I come in to pick up my car at the end of the day. He is a man of few words, but of much action and integrity.

The day I asked Jeremy if I could take this picture of the two of us, he first looked surprised, then grinned, checked his hair, and posed for several selfies. I got the impression people don’t thank him enough for doing the great job he does every day.

This week’s #HappyAct in honour of Valentine’s Day, is to show your mechanic or a person in your life who helps keep you safe or lightens your load some love.

Don’t miss next week’s blog post for Vaentine’s Day: Ten lessons on love and relationships from The Batchelor.

Me and my mechanic

Visit a Charles Dickens village

Christmas carollers
Carollers at the mill in Delta, Ontario

Our British Heritage runs deep in this region. Kingston was, after all, the first capital of Canada and north of Kingston, in the area once known as Upper Canada, there are dozens of quaint villages that transform into magical towns hearkening back to the days of Charles Dickens at Christmas.

One of my favourites is the tiny village of Delta where thousands of visitors assemble each year to take an evening stroll through Lower Beverly Park to see the 90,000 lights, visit Santa’s workshop and take a wagon ride through the village. The local church hall serves hot meals, and in the centre of the village, the Delta Mill is open for tours.

The Old Stone Mill in Delta is a national historic site and treasure. It was built in 1810 and is still a working gristmill (they grind their own flour in the summer months). In December, antique candles light up the mill as they flicker in the six-foot window sills of each window.

Once inside, you are transported back to the days of Dickens. Caped carollers sing God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman and the smells of hot cider fill the air. Local volunteers share their knowledge and history as they take you for a tour and explain how flour is ground. You almost expect to see the ghost of Christmas past or Ebenezer Scrooge emerge from the mill’s shadows.

This week’s #HappyAct is to transport yourself back in time with a visit to Delta. As Charles Dickens wrote, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

The mill and park are open every Friday and Saturday night until Christmas.

Some other great towns to visit during the holidays include Niagara-on-the-Lake, Merrickville and high on my wish list, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia where they have a Father Christmas Festival and transform their picturesque seaside village into a winter wonderland.

Old Stone Mill in Delta

Get out and vote local

All candidates meeting
My neighbour and councillor incumbent Bruno Albano speaking at our all candidates meeting in Verona

This past week, pop star Taylor Swift urged Americans on her Instagram account and the American Music Awards to get out and vote.

A testament to her power and influence, nearly 65,000 Americans ages 18 to 29 registered to vote within 24 hours, and those numbers are continuing to grow in the US every day.

I’ve never understood why anyone in the United States or Canada wouldn’t exercise their right to vote. It is the single most important freedom and right we have.

Here in Canada, we will go to the polls once again this month to elect municipal officials. I recently attended the all candidates meeting for my district, and one of the incumbents said while municipal elections have traditionally seen some of the lowest voter turnouts, it is actually the most important vote because it is your opportunity to influence and shape what happens in your own community.

I was extremely impressed with the three men running for mayor, and the five men running for the two councillor positions in my area. Every single incumbent was well versed on the issues, passionate about the beautiful area we live in, and had a vision for how to attract young families, business and look after our growing senior population. It’s reassuring to know that after all the votes are tallied, no matter what happens here in South Frontenac, we will be well represented.

I was also extremely impressed with the dedication and commitment of all the candidates to serve. At least four or five of the people running had full-time jobs, young families and served on committees, volunteer organizations and more. Dave and I know three for four of the guys personally, and they are all stand up people. I applaud all of them and their families for running for council. My only wish was to see more women and diversity represented.

This week’s #HappyAct is to get out and vote locally. Most municipalities have online voting so there’s no excuse not to vote!

On a lighter note: If you read last week’s post, A Country Mile, you’ll appreciate this. I’ve seen many of our local candidates this week out and about. Mayor candidate Mark Schjerning waved to me three different mornings this week on my commute into Kingston—he was standing at the side of the road in Sydenham and Harrowsmith waving to cars. My neighbour Bruno Albano, who is running for councillor was putting up signs on highway 38 yesterday. We honked our horn in support, making him jump. Only in the country!

More posts on voting

If I were Prime Minister for the Day

A country mile

country fieldOne of the many things I’m thankful for is living in the country. While I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, I’m forever grateful we made the decision more than 20 years ago to get out of the city and move to rural roads where the air is fresh, the mosaic fields of fall spread before you like a harvest feast, and you can walk or drive for a country mile without seeing another car or person.

What I didn’t count on was how much the simplistic charm of the little hamlets and crossroads, and the people who inhabit them would grow on me.

For instance, I was driving to Tamworth the other night for a 4H meeting. The sign at the church in Croyden said, “Rhonda. Sunday. 6:30.”

It made me wonder who was Rhonda and what was she doing at the Croyden church on Sunday at 6:30? Was she getting married? Or was it an unhappy occasion—a memorial service for Rhonda? Was she young or old?

I did wonder if perhaps my friend Rhonda Nontell who has a cottage nearby was giving a gospel performance at 6:30 in Croyden, but then the sign would say “Rhonda. Sunday. 6:30. $5.” I mean most of us would pay at least $5 to see that performance.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

And then there is the country wave. When I first moved to this area 20 years ago, my best friend’s Mom Audrey educated me on the country wave. The country wave is different if you’re walking or driving.

When walking, the proper way to wave to people is a slight nod of the head or raise of the hand for a half-wave. No full-out wave, or Queen wave, just an acknowledgement you saw them driving by.

If driving, there are two approved country waves. There’s the two finger wave, where you just raise two fingers off the steering wheel or the four finger wave with your four index fingers extended. A slight nod of the head is acceptable.

Over the years, I’ve experienced everything from discovering a newborn fawn at the end of my driveway, to eating my breakfast cereal with an escaped cow staring at me through the kitchen window, to chickens on our hot tub. Yes, country living is definitely better by a country mile.

This week’s #HappyAct is to give thanks for where you live. Here are some pictures I took on my drive and walk on the country roads near Tamworth the other night.

horses

country sign
This is the first sign I’ve seen for turtles and snakes

barn silosunset over a field