Monday, March 24, 2008

A Southern Girl Goes North

To celebrate our anniversary, my husband and I recently flew into Buffalo, New York, then spent almost a week visiting Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Stoney Creek, Rockton, St. Jacobs, and just driving around in the beautiful Ontario countryside. Despite there being many feet of snow on the ground (which, Florida native that I am, I absolutely LOVED!), we had no problems at all getting around. Roads and sidewalks were clear and ice-free.

You can't comprehend the sheer power of those waterfalls (and there are two, for those of you who may not realize that) until you are standing directly in front of them. Even half-frozen, the force is phenomenal--although the seagulls seemed completely nonplussed. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were equally impressive--in both their endless expanse and the four-foot layer of ice that covered whole sections of them!


One of the best days of our trip was spent at the Maple Syrup Festival at Rockton's Westfield Heritage Village, where we learned how maple syrup has been made down through the centuries and visited early Ontario homes, churches, and businesses. Unlike most American historic villages, Westfield encourages visitors to touch and taste as well as view what life was like in the good old days. The proprietor of the general store was selling candy as fast as he could wrap it in its brown paper cones, and storyteller Pauline Grondin and costumed interpreter (and elementary school teacher) Norma Bingham shared fresh-from-the-cookstove maple delights as eagerly as tales of the family who once called that kitchen their own.

Also fascinating was learning about ice wine, the specialty dessert wine made from grapes frozen while still on the vine. Southern Ontario is the world's largest producer of this distinctive winter harvest, and wineries abound on the well-marked "Wine Route." Even bare-branched and blanketed with snow, the acres after acres of grapes, peaches, and apricots were stunning.
Even Buffalo, NY, was charming in its white winter coat. We found the downtown architecture fascinating, the residents cordial, and the sidewalk stroll (mere feet from Lake Erie!) pure joy. Not so joyful was Northwest Airlines' failure to notify us--until after we had turned in our rental car and arrived at the airport--that they cancelled our flight home and assigned us to another one--six hours later! Nice as it is, the Buffalo-Niagara Airport is a hard place to stay entertained for that long; I'm just grateful we had good books and no small children!

1 comment:

Susan said...

Jayne,

So glad to find you here on Blogger! I loved this story...not to mention that you all are celebrating an anniversary. Congrats to you both.

Hugs,

Susan