Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two for the Price of One

Getting ready to carve this year’s pumpkin reminds me of an unusual one we had the year before last. We were fortunate to find a Siamese pumpkin. What were the odds? You can clearly see that while they are joined, they each have their own set of pumpkin guts and seeds.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brightening a Winter Day

Was lucky to come across this beautiful yarn at a local thrift shop. One bag was marked $1.99 the other was $2.99. So for $4.98 I was able to launch my latest knitting project, a winter scarf with a lovely nubbly texture. It's sure to brighten up a winter day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fragile Beauty #3

Another example of the fragile beauty of autumn leaves... that point where a leaf has crossed its blazing prime, the beginning of its decline. Such fragile beauty.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fragile Beauty #2

Think of autumn foliage and chances are the first leaf that comes to mind is the maple... in a gold, orange, red palette. But there are all sorts of other trees that contribute their own brush strokes of colour to fall's masterpiece.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fragile Beauty

At this time of year the evidence of decay is all around us. There is a type of beauty in such decay. The changing pigments eventually give way, the colours gradually fading out. The leaves show blemishes and tears. It has a fragile beauty. Wrinkled parchment, with a luminosity. Many leaves are still on the trees, but at any moment the last of the life force will drain away and one leaf or another will detach itself from its branch and float silently to the ground.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Piece of My Heart

The word for memories in French is souvenir. So it was apt that I would want to bring home a small souvenir of my beloved mountain on a trip back to my childhood hometown.

At the base of the mountain, along the path in the car park I noticed this heart-shaped rock. I brought it home with me, a small memento of Mont St. Hilaire. But there’s a tiny notch at the bottom missing… the little piece of my heart I left behind.

La Cabosse d'or

After a hike up Mont St. Hilaire, having worked up a little appetite, a great place to stop at the base of the mountain, is the chocolatier La Cabosse d'or, just down the street from Auclair's barn. Unfortunately for me, this wonderful chocolate wasn't around when I was young and living just a short distance away. Among the assortment of chocolates we purchased is a postcard of Mont St. Hilaire.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Along the Trail

Here are some more views along the walking trails of Mont St. Hilaire. Isn't it glorious? I spent many a morning or afternoon walking up the mountain as a child. Back then it was an easy thing. Now there's a charge to park your car and a further charge to gain access.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Different View

While walking on Mont St. Hilaire, I took this photograph along one of the trails. Not the ususal view of ferns certainly, those luscious green graceful arcs we're used to seeing, but still stunning in these new golden hues. I like the way the ferns seem to be spiraling, kind of like a vortex. Even the fallen leaves appear to be getting sucked in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apples Every Day

When I was a teenager, I read a junior fiction novel called Apples Every Day. The title was alluding to the fact that the school children in the story were served apples every day in the months that followed the October apple harvest. Something our family, with three apple trees in our garden, knew about first-hand. Those trees produced more apples than we could possibly use despite daily offerings of apple sauce, apple betty, apples in our school lunches... and despite my father giving box after box away to his city colleagues. Author Grace Richardson set the novel in St. Hilaire, where I grew up, and the action taking place in a private progressive school was modeled after an abandoned manor that we thought was haunted. Fast forward thirty-something years and the haunted manor house has been turned into a four-star hotel. Just look at it. Charming, and the gardens are scrumptious! I definitely want to stay there sometime!

The Manoir Rouville-Campbell, as it is now called, was built in 1832 by René-Hertel de Rouville. The house was remodeled in 1850 by Major Thomas Edmund Campbell, having purchased it from the bankrupt Rouville in 1844.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mont Saint-Hilaire

With 600 species of “higher” (or seed) plants and an unknown quantity of other “lower” plants, 12 kinds of reptiles, 17 species of amphibians and 187 species of winged creatures, Mont Saint-Hilaire has been a sanctuary for migrating birds since 1960.
Because of special biological and geological conditions it was declared a world-class preserve in 1978, the first of its kind in Canada.

Note: The first photo (Lac Hertel from above) and the second photo (Lac Hertel at ground view) were taken by my son, M.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Apple of My Eye

Did you know that all of today’s McIntosh apples can be traced back to a single tree that was discovered by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, near Morrisburg, Ontario in 1811? It’s true.

This bowl of glorious McIntosh apples, also known affectionately as Macs, came from my childhood hometown. All these years later you can still go back to the same white barn with a giant red apple painted on its side and buy apples from the same orchards, the same trees. It wasn’t until I returned home and snapped this photo that I noticed the one on the top that carried an imprint, the distinct shape of an apple! No matter how many years go by, hometowns still hold magic.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Candy Apples

These candy apples were for sale at Auclair's barn in St. Hilaire. Look at that smooth finish and shine, like the paint job on an expensive sports car!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Auclair's Barn

Sometimes it’s just so comforting to find that something hasn’t changed, especially when it’s a warm cherished memory that’s at stake. So it's always with some trepidation that one returns to such places. Auclair's barn is such a place, a local landmark for the last 50 years or more. We stopped by on Sunday during our visit to Saint-Hilaire. What a relief to find it unchanged. McIntosh apples by the bushel basket, local cheddar cheese — both mild and old, as well as a Canadian swiss, fresh-pressed apple juice and pumpkins.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving! These lovely pumpkins were photographed yesterday in Saint-Hilaire. I'll be telling you more about the trip in the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shadow Maple

A lovely October day with the sun coming out from behind the clouds to grace the day, even though the wind made it quite chilly! But when the sun shines, the colours of the foliage come to life and provide the chance for a perfectly shaped shadow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clothesline Art

The mention of a clothesline yesterday brought to mind my own clothesline. I was so happy that we finally put one up in our garden this spring. And as the summer wore on I became aware that my husband's method of sorting by colour when he does the laundry results in some very pleasing arrangements. Have a look...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sumac Magic #3

I'm rather gone on all these photos of sumac leaves I've been posting. Just the tip of the iceberg for what's to come in the next weeks I suspect. How could I not post photos of gorgeous autumn leaves in the month of October? Look how obediently they line up along their branch. Like clothes on a clothesline. Or are they little gold fish caught and hung? And is it my imagination, or does the sky always look bluer this month than at any other time?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sumac Magic #2

Resembling sharp points of flame, sumac leaves astonish with their variety of colours. And they are the most willing of photographic subjects, with their leaves growing at eye-level.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sumac Magic

The sumac leaves are changing. I have to admit that I don't notice them much during the summer, but once fall arrives they are impossible to ignore. Their colours absolutely blaze!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


In my post of September 21, 2009 I wrote about the giant bar of chocolate my sister sent from Italy. On holiday for two weeks, her first Tuscan mission was to find Amedei's chocolate factory in Pontedera, Pisa.

In her own words, "It wasn’t very far away, although it was hard to find. We did find it however and of course, like many places in Italy, it was closed. Everything shuts down for lunch from 1:30 to 4:00 pm. Anyway, we arrived at the factory and I peeked over the fence and pressed the buzzer. No answer. I don’t think they are really open to the public.

Not long after, a delivery truck came and they opened the gate. So in I went, determined to get chocolate for my big sister. A man came out and I explained that I was from Canada and was looking for chocolate for my sister. She says it is the best chocolate in the world. He didn’t speak English, but told me in Italian that they didn’t sell chocolate. I asked where I could buy it and he went in to get a business card."

After such a declaration what else could he possibly do? Not to be defeated, my sister asked if she could come in to take a couple of photos. And guess what? She could!

Several snaps later, with free samples to boot, my sister and her husband left to find La Bottega del Caffé ... and my chocolate. And what a charming shop it is. Just look at the shop's exterior. The chocolate purchased, the next stop was the post office to mail it to me. And it was on its way.

Note: Photos were taken by my sister.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In the Pink

It's been raining on an off for several days now. And the temperature has taken a decided nose dive. Not something to rejoice in. But without the rain I wouldn't have seen the droplets of water on these beautiful pink hydrangeas. Aren't they lovely?