Tag Archives: Royal Botanical Gardens

Taking It Outside

As a restless writer, I don’t like to stick to my home office. I like to move around, and see if there’s some other chair, or view, or ambiance, that will get my literary mojo flowing. The same is true for my restless colleagues, who mine the creative potential of the local hair salon and the edge of suburbia.

I like to experiment with new places to write. They don’t always work out. Early last Saturday morning, for instance, I drove out to my favourite spot at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Hendrie Valley Nature Sanctuary. The well maintained trails and boardwalk draw nature-seekers, amateur photographers and amblers like me.

I settled onto a sturdy bench perfectly situated beneath some leafy trees, and overlooking lush wetlands. A few ducks paddled about and the crickets were singing. Some chickadees peeped charmingly at me from the branches. It all felt very Thoreau-like.

It was wonderful for the first few minutes. My notebook and pen were at the ready. I breathed in the cool, damp air, closed my eyes and grabbed onto a snippet of dialogue that was rambling around in my head. I opened my eyes…just in time to see a beady-eyed grey squirrel creeping along the handrail.Beady-eyed squirrel

I leapt from the bench with a lady-like squeal and looked around. I was surrounded. Three chickadees were peering hungrily at me from the trees—not so charming any more. A cardinal, normally the shyest of birds, was perched smack-dab in the middle of the boardwalk. Some rustling just off the trail signaled the arrival of one of those cute terrors: a chipmunk.

Turns out this lovely boardwalk that had seemed so promising as a writing spot is also a feeding ground for spoiled rodents and cheeky birds. These little beasties had grown accustomed to being hand-fed by visitors. Without any birdseed to fling in my defence, I was liable to be swarmed.

The squirrel advances!That squirrel was pretty damned bold. I thought he was going to scramble up my leg. He advanced. I retreated, all the way back to the parking lot. Back in the safety of my car, I realized that I had lost my good pen. I hoped that squirrel choked on it. A gaggle of Canada geese squawked at me as I drove away, probably reminding me to bring food next time.

Sheesh. Nature and I don’t always get along. Next stop on my places-for-restless-writers tour? My local pub. I think I’ll be safe from the outside in there.



Filed under Life and stuff

Living on the edge

Imagine a place that is close to everything yet away from it all. A place bordered by the Niagara Escarpment, the Royal Botanical Gardens and acres of lush farmland. This is where we live. We are situated just close enough to blow kisses to city folk from our front porch—yet far enough away to wish upon a star.

We are a neighbourhood of thirty-or-so homes with our very own distinctive sense of place in the urban collective memory. We shop at the farm across the street, even if Tim Hortons is only a hiccup away. We roam the Bruce Trail and enjoy the picturesque waterfalls that spill from the Escarpment edge into the valley town below. Our children enjoy wagon rides, tire swings, and mini golf. The sun rises on our radicchio and sets on our solar lights. We share this setting sun with wild turkeys and coyotes; birds of prey and bunnies.

Our homes are simple, yet they hold the imprint of more than one generation. Our neighbourhood is blessed with character and characters—and we know the footpath to each other’s castles. We are a modest and conserving group of neighbours, complete with weeds and well water.

As neighbours, we ‘catch up’ over the fence while sharing a cornucopia of tomatoes, pears, apples and pumpkins. We recount drought stories, war stories…and love stories. We are writers, rock stars, farmers, teachers, veterinarians, and skygazers; we are all kinds, all cultures and all ages. Garage sales, corn roasts and outdoor movie nights keep us connected and preserve a sense of belonging. The place we live contributes to our wellbeing as individuals as well as to the vitality of our little community.

We live in the simple and in the sublime. We’re a little bit country, and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. In the words of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith: we’re livin’ on the edge; you can’t help yourself from fallin’—in love with this place we call home.

B Jas 

Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

Note: This post is a recent submission to the Royal LePage “My Great Neighbourhood” Contest. Please vote for my submission here! P.S. Great places make for great writing. Do you have a place you are fond of?

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Filed under Awards and contests, Life and stuff