Archive for the ‘Outside’ Category

Feather Fest


Just a month ago we were wandering Berlin’s Trodelmarkt, examining stacks of old plates, baskets of doorknobs, stringless violins and rusted typewriters at a gigantic public flea market.

After all, goes the adage, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.


It’s all about what street you take to get there, I guess.

In our case, we woke at 5.33 in the dark and quiet morning, caffeinated our travel mugs and set out on a lengthy and northerly drive into what my brother calls “Harrowsmith Country.”

We passed through a number of beautiful century-old towns, main streets lined with orange brick Victorian-era buildings, dotted between corn fields, dairy operations, Amish communities and wind farms.

Our destination: Mount Forest, home to the bi-annual Fur & Feather Fanciers Swap and Sale.


First and foremost, it’s a place where you will find Exactly What You Were (or were not *can we have a puppy? pleeeease? can we have a bunny? how about a kitten? pleeeeeease? oh! oh! look! a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig! can we have one? pleeeease?*) Looking For.


But mostly, it’s a farmer’s free-for-all and it’s fantastic!

Farmers show up very early in the morning to have their tables, cages and livestock assembled for the 7 a.m. start.

Seven o’clock in the morning these folks are selling their wares.

The best stuff is gone by 9 a.m. although officially it carries on until noon.

These farmers have to get back to their own barns and fields by a reasonable hour after all.


So let’s just say that you had some chickens pigeons. And that you went away on a trip. To, say, Germany Saskatchewan. And while you were away all your chickens pigeons were gobbled up by a coyote fox weasel you’re not exactly sure.

You’d need to re-supply your flock. Right?


Or maybe your parakeet flew away and you recently moved to a bigger condo and just now remembered your Grade 7 project on “Cute Australian Animals I Luv.”


You simply never know what you’ll suddenly need in your suddenly dull and very ordinary life.


Signs for the conflicted home-owner.


Lawn-management systems.


Cost-saving transportation for your commute.


Puppies. (*oh! oh! oh! pleeeease?*)


A piglet. (*oh! oh! pleeeease?*)


Well now, hello there. How about me? I’m cute too, right?
Will you take me with you?

Will you?



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The entertainment

A sunny afternoon outdoors.

Any chance for improvement?


Some resounding syncopation sounds like a good place to start.


Goatskin stretched across wooden cylinders — bam batta bam b-bam bam b-bam bam …


The Butterfly Drummers. They just makes you smile.

And then out comes the next wave of motion, moving, undulating, expressive arms, wrists, waists…


Completely absorbed in the moment, echoing the movement of the drum beats…


Swaying, jumping, cascading over the sound…


Taking us somewhere very long ago from here…

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Sticky Wicket: Intro


The bags.


The bats.


The media, with populist politician.


The wicket-keeper.


The bowler.


The batsman.

Tomorrow: The game

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The Trans-Canada Trail runs a path across our country over the course of more than 20,000 kilometres.

It winds through every province and every territory, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Oceans.


When completed it will link up to 1000 communities. Right now it’s about 70 per cent developed and can be used to walk, hike, cycle, ski, horseback ride, canoe and snowmobile.


The trail is easy for a few hours of cycling as a lot it has been developed on old railway lines and thus has a very modestgrade, never more than 4 per cent incline. Trains don’t do uphill very well.


When this rider was about three years old we cycled to a small town called Alton. We had a contraption called a trail-a-bike — a one-wheeled half-bike with pedals and a seat that attached to the seat stem of the adult bike. Then-five-year-old Nicholas managed that one while La Princessa rode with books and snacks in a trailer behind her papa’s bike.


This time, however, we were travelling on eight wheels.

No towing!


Sometimes the journey felt like a long one …


… but the roadside attractions along the way were many and varied  …


… and the treats at the end re-energized even the weariest traveller.

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More places to hide

The wild and wily geo-cache crowd wants you to work for your treasure.

Seeking the stash is all about the challenge of  getting there.


This cache, disguised as a former peanut butter jar resided on the edge of a cemetery, through the woods, off the path, near a stream, high up in a tree.


And in the clues, this plastic tub was described as “wearing the same camouflage as the surrounding cedar trees.”


It’s the outside-the-box thinking that makes this activity appealing.


One particular cache we sought was described as for girls who were out hunting with their parents and needed a fix of pink. Or something girlie.


Our chum is neither girlie nor pink but she was all over the rocks and trees to hunt down a treasure specially designed for her.


Found it!

And took out the pink pen.

Couldn’t help herself.


And then this rather treacherous hike.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of darkness…

Not well-suited for those in Crocs.


It’s a very pretty part of Ontario country side — reminds me of some of hiking experiences in B.C.

With a backpack and sans enfants.


We didn’t actually head all the way to the terminus of the hike. We weren’t prepared foot-wear wise and we’d already hunted down several caches. And the day was getting on and Lori’s dogs needed to be fed and there were still a few more kilometres to go and and and…


And so while we did not go all the way to the end, the cache would have been hidden in one of the tiny crevices in the wall of rock.


There will be a next time.

Not to worry.

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Treasure hunt

There’s a different kind of hide-and-seek being played in the fields and backyards of your community. It’s a high-tech version of  hunting for hidden treasure, involving a computer (to download precise latitudes and longitudes) and a hand-held GPS (to locate said precise locations).


The activity is called Geo-Caching. Hiders place a cleverly concealed container in a secret spot, from tricky to scary to walk in the park. Seekers attempt to locate the container based on clues left on-line (after one has joined up, etc.) by the hider.

It’s tricky, challenging and an adventuresome way to discover some surprise locales in and around one’s comunity.


In this case, our friend Lori and her son took us on a dynamic excursion to a cemetery near Orangeville, about 40 minutes north-west of our place. A huge cemetery with stones dating back to the early 1800s.


After some circling and cruising and discussion about the shapes and challenges of headstones and family plots, we found this four-inch plastic pipe tucked in between the multiple trunks of a young cedar.


The clues Lori had printed out from her computer indicated we would need to fill the four-inch pipe with water from a nearby tap.


But first we would have to plug the hole in the bottom of the big pipe.


My lad reached inside the big pipe, pulled out a smaller pipe. Inside that second pipe was a wrench and — aha! — a plug for the bottom of the first pipe.


It really was all a matter of following directions and thinking creatively.

We filled up the newly plugged big pipe and — aha again! — up floated another pipe. What a clever concealment!


And inside of that was all the usual congratulations, notebooks for signing in and little prizes (take one and then leave another for the next seeker).


When the finder returns home, she can log in on-line that the geo-cache has been located. And the hider can keep track of how many people have visited the site.


At the terminus of the adventure all containers must be returned to their hidden locales, in anticipation of the next seeker.

In this case we needed to let all the water out of that big pipe.


A great afternoon. Thanks, Lori!

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Shadows and Light

Keep your face to the sunshine
And you cannot see the shadows.
It’s what sunflowers do.
—  Helen Keller

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