Mid-Atlantic Misfit

Mid-Atlantic Misfit

Life between cultures

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Canada days 8, 9 & 10 – Time to be thankful

18 October 2013 , , , , , ,

Monday, October 10th is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, but my friends had the family (including 4 grandchildren) over on the Saturday for a slap up turkey meal with all the trimmings.  I’m thankful on two fronts.  First, I cannot remember the last time I had the big roast meal with company.  Second, to share it with such great friends is very rare for me.  It felt so good to be included.

Chris and I set off from the hotel mid-morning on the Saturday and started making our way north up highway 400.

After the turkey, was pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate cake.  What I wasn’t so thankful for was the feeling that I was going to explode.

On Sunday, we had yet another big greasy breakfast and then in the afternoon went on the hunt for poutine.  For those of you who don’t know, a poutine is a french Canadian dish of chips, covered in cheese curd and gravy.  So so good!  To find it, we drove west about half an hour to the small town of Sturgeon Falls, which is very much a francophone area.  After getting yet more stuffed, we went down to the local marina on the Sturgeon River, beyond the dam and not far from Lake Nipissing.  It was such a gorgeous day… sunny, warm and amazing for October.  We did a short walk and took some photos of each other, before heading back to North Bay for some delicious turkey sandwiches.  Inevitably, there was a lot of turkey leftover… so turkey soup, sandwiches, casserole, etc.  I jest, just the soup and sandwiches, but they were so good!

On the holiday itself, we headed east to the beautiful Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Area.  It’s where the Eau Claire River cuts through a narrow gorge in the pre-Cambrian rock, so there are a series of rapids and waterfalls. It was a great hike, a magical spot and I did it with such great friends.  I took a lot of photos there, including many long exposures to get the ethereal water look.  OK… fair warning… boring photography bit follows…  In order to get that look, you need a long exposure, of between 1 and 5s.  The trouble is in daylight if you leave the aperture open that long, even at say f/22, your shot and especially the water will be totally blown out (white).   To prevent this, you need to use a neutral density (ND) filter.  I first tried an ND8, which reduces the light to 1/8 of normal.  That still didn’t cut the light enough.  So I put on my special 10 stop filter and that did the trick and allowed me to leave the shutter open long-enough to get the effect and still maintain detail.

In Eau Claire Conservation Area, east of North Bay Ontario

In Eau Claire Conservation Area, east of North Bay Ontario

We made the quite uphill hike back to the car and headed a little further east to another French town.  This time Mattawa.  Down by the docks there you can get some amazing photos of the Mattawa River, train bridge and up on the top of the hill three white crosses.  My friend Pete researched these and there’s a fascinating story to them.  They were erected way back in 1686, a whopping 327 years ago to mark the confluence of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers.  The crosses have apparently been replaced numerous times, but there have only been two years, 1953 and 1975 that they weren’t visible.

3 crosses dating back to 1686, over the Mattawa River

3 crosses dating back to 1686, over the Mattawa River

Then we headed off to a local restaurant for lunch, before heading back once more to North Bay.

What I most thankful for, is to have the opportunity to spend so much time, with such great friends.  Friends, which, I just naturally seem to gel with and fit with.  I spend so much time alone in London, because of work and then again when travelling on work.  I also find it tough sometimes to gel with people in the UK.  So I’m very thankful to have this time here.  I’m also thankful to have the financial ability and time to reconnect to this beautiful area and to get away from it all and chill out, while getting some much needed rest.

Life is far from perfect, but I think we’d all do well to remember and be grateful for what we do have.  It’s so easy to look over your shoulder and daydream about how perfect someone else’s life is, but it seldom is.  What would be more constructive (and I’d do well to remember this) is to make each day count and to be thankful for the good fortunes we do have.

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