The sun was already shining when I threw my things in the car to head to work. For 7 years, I’ve toiled as a kayaking guide out of Prince Edward Island’s Brudenell Provincial Park. It has continuously been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Not only do I get to spend the day in the sun, on the water, wrapped in pristine nature, but I get to bring along my camera.
On this particular day, I drove across the small bridge connecting my family home to our town and immediately threw it in reverse. I backed on to the bridge, grabbed my camera and hopped out to stare out at the seamlessly still water reflecting the world above, while dark shadows revealed slivers of the secrets beneath the surface.
Niagara Falls is one of the most iconic tourist destinations in Canada. No matter what time of year you visit the Falls, people from around the world can be found. Each night, fireworks light up the sky and mingle with the mists spewed from the falls as tourists lap up haunted houses, casinos and restaurants. The shore front is littered with cheap gimmicks and gambling, profiting on the natural beauty that draws in the crowds. But the true magic of Niagara Falls is not hidden in a shop or a store, it’s in plain sight, for all to see.
Acclimatizing to a Canadian winter should be easy, for a Canadian. I like to tell myself that natural selection has made us Canadians heartier, immune to the bite of a bitter wind and indifferent to piercing cold. But, as I mutter my Darwinian mantra, my escaping breath turns to ice. I’m not fooling anyone.
Picking apples is a great way to spend a brisk fall day. I was in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, for the Thanksgiving weekend and going to an orchard was penciled in to the weekend plans.
Saturday morning came and we loaded into the car and drove off in search of an apple picking place. About an hour later we ended up at Mountain Orchards. They had almost everything. There were tractor rides, hot apple cider, and even a sausage stand. However, they were lacking in one department. Apples. Apparently, the weekend before the trees had been picked dry. What remained to us were large crates from which we could pick out apples. Not quite the same experience.
We decided to change our plan. We grabbed a few apples and stowed them in our pockets then headed off into the woods. Munching on apples and kicking up leaves in a technicolor forest proved to be more fun.
After a day of beach baseball, frisbee, football, swimming and fishing, it was time to crowd around a fire and relax. We wrapped fresh fish in tin foil seasoned with olive oil, cracked pepper and fresh lemon, then placed the wrapped fillets on the grill over the crackling coals. The sun dipped down and the stars came into the night sky as we munched on the tender mackerel.
We were warm in our sleeping bags as we fell asleep beside the retracting heat of a dying fire. It wasn’t long before the heat came back, albeit from a different source burning 150 million kilometres away, rising into the morning sky.
Rain came falling out of the sky. The underside of a bridge became my refuge. A man plodded by with a cigarette clutched in his hand.
After living in Cairo, I’m used to blue skies being the norm. Waking up in Toronto, I sometimes have the impression that I’m floating on a mining colony in a Star Wars universe. I sit and watch as the clouds roll in and the city disappears and I’m okay with that.
It was an early morning when I drove to work. I was driving across the bridge that connects the land my family home is on to the main town, when I looked out the window and decided I had to stop. I parked the car on the side of the road, walked back to the bridge and did a double take.
Watching a storm move over Toronto is a formidable sight. Having lived in Cairo for the last couple of years, you start to forget the power of a rainstorm. Sure you get lots of sandstorms but they don’t have the same majesty as heavy rain accented with thunder and lightning. And then there is that moment, when the rain abates and the sun peeks through.
Over the last four years, I have spent one winter in France, which compared to Canada is quite warm, one winter in Australia and two winters in Egypt. Needless to say when the temperature dipped down to the single digits here in Toronto, I felt like an icicle. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I remember a time when fall was my favourite season. Here’s hoping I can get back there.