Category Archives: nature

trails

We love trails of all types. There are the outdoor ones that involve hiking and reading maps. And then there are the other types of trails – the ones that have you following a theme. Like butter tarts or gin. They all require map reading, with the payoff of a great vista, a great pastry or a great cocktail.

Between us, we’ve hiked the Bruce Trail, Cinque Terre, Mt Kuchumaa, Mt Wachusett and countless other trails.

 

We’ve made and eaten our share of homemade butter tarts.

 

And now, we’re eyeing up a Gin Trail trip to Scotland. After all, I only have two Scottish gins in my gin collection – The Botanist and Hendrick’s – so it must be time to spread my taste buds to some new botanical combinations. Doesn’t hurt at all that there’s a stop on Shetland.

CJR

 

perma-spring

It’s happening again…spring! I know, it comes around every time, like clockwork. I was reading some of the spring blogs we posted last year – and here I go again with how much I love the spring season.

I was walking the dog on the weekend at a local conservation area (and my sister was hiking here) and I was thinking about how great it would be if spring lasted a little longer. When you still need a light jacket, maybe rubber boots even. And all around everything is waking up (including the walker and her dog) after the cold, dark winter.

Wild leeks and tiger lilies are the first greenery that’s up in the bush. Streams and creeks are flowing with clear, cool water. Tree swallow pairs are filling up the nesting boxes. And red-wing blackbirds are chortling in last year’s cattails.

And when I get home, I opened all the doors and windows wide to push all the dog hair to one side of the room – and flush out the stale air for some fresh, new, still-bug-free springtime oxygen.

What’s your favourite season?

CJR

maple trees

Nature seems to know just what we need about the middle of February. A general grumpiness is evident in many people you meet and there’s really no point in talking about the cold, dark winter weather any longer.

And suddenly. Magically. The sun shines again, warming up the snow, awakening the mud and sap starts to flow through the veins of the sugar maple. Ahhh…maple syrup season is here.

It started this past weekend in my area. And as I stepped outside I could just imagine the smell of the steam billowing from the evaporator in our maple bush to signal the start of the short, sweet season of syrup.

In the heyday of our small hobby farm, we had 1,000 maple taps and a pioneering farm market retail business during the hectic six weeks that made up our every spring season. It was the best job I ever had – making pancakes, selling (and consuming equal amounts of) maple sugar, slathering homemade tea biscuits with maple butter, and bringing consumers to the farm to learn about how one of the best agricultural products I know of is made.

Our maple operation started small – and here I am (not yet enjoying my best job ever) selling coffee, syrup and maple sugar out of our drive shed. It got better and bigger from there…and I started to smile as I greeted customers!

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If you are looking for ideas on how to use maple syrup – check out these recipes from the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association.

CJR

 

a real winter

Okay, I might just be speaking for myself – after all, my blogging sidekick sister is in the Caribbean – but I love a real winter. The whole deal. Snow banks, down coats, handknit socks, beef stew, fireplaces.

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This winter started off with promise. I shoveled my new driveway several times (probably cursing the whole time but I’ve forgotten that part). Then it rained. Then there was freezing rain. Then it just got stupid with spring-like mud everywhere.

I am sure winter isn’t done with us yet. I just need more of the white stuff to lighten up the still-dark mornings and make way for slip-free walking. Maybe even cross-country skiing if the stars align.

Anybody out there with me on this?!

CJR

rancho la puerta – hiking

Every morning at Rancho la Puerta begins with a mountain hike.

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There are several options for distance and difficulty, but they all start just as the sun is coming up over mystical Mt. Kuchumaa.image

It’s a wonderful way to start the day. They are timed perfectly so that just as you are finishing stretching, it’s time for breakfast!

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HAR & CJR

falling for it

One of my favourite sappy movies is You’ve Got Mail. There’s a line in it that I think of this time of year – “Don’t you just love New York in the fall?”

Well it’s not New York, and I don’t see Tom Hanks anywhere in the neighbourhood…but I love fall in southern Ontario. The sweet scent of ripening apples. Morning dew on the grass. The extra weight of the duvet on the bed. Yes, even long pants and socks.

I don’t think I could live in a climate without four distinct seasons. Each one is just long enough.

Fall for me means hauling out all my knitting projects that were cast aside during the summer humidity, cooking soups and stews and meatloaf, making apple crisp (for breakfast!), rediscovering all my winter sweaters, switching from white wine back to red, and hiking through the autumn colours.

What’s on your list for fall?

CJR

 

take a hike

We are heading to Italy this week for a walking/hiking vacation around Lake Como. The upcoming trip provided a good excuse to go for a hike over Labour Day weekend to make sure our hiking boots didn’t rub somewhere unexpected. My boots were fine, just lacking in some cushioning so I bought some new HOKA boots. (check out our friday favourite from last week to learn more.)

Ten years ago for some birthday one of us had, I bought a book of 50 Hikes in Massachusetts. We cracked it open and chose the very first hike, Alander Mountain, 2,239 feet and a prominent peak of the south Taconic Mountains.

It was a challenging hike with gorgeous views of the Hudson Valley in NY, NW Connecticut and Massachusetts. We enjoyed it so much we hiked Mt Wachusett in central Massachusetts this past weekend. We are fortunate to live only 1/2 hour from Wachusett mountain.

Fall is a perfect time of year to dig out your hiking boots (or buy some new ones!) and go take a hike!

HAR

an hour on the water

Every day on my route to work, I drive over the river and pass by a “canoe and kayak” rental sign. It calls my name, every time I see it. And I’m always wishing I could just stop there for a little paddle, instead of wherever I am headed.

I finally just did it. Last week, I keenly showed up before they even opened. Brought my own life jacket and rented a kayak for an hour. I have done big canoe trips full of adventure. But what I have realized I really love, is to just paddle around for a little while sitting right on top of the water.

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I don’t crave white water. I love getting a closer, quieter look at nature from the seat of a kayak or canoe. On my last paddle, I glided past a turtle sunning on a partially submerged park bench, and a female mallard with two little ducklings just hanging out on a sand bar.

I think I’m going to make that my summer plan. Find more places to take a little rented paddle around.

CJR