Rick and I have just returned from an extended holiday at Niagara-on-the-Lake in Wonderful Canada. We thought we'd be escaping from the searing heatwave here in NEO, but The Canadians, who are everso polite at all times, kindly provided identical climatalogical conditions there so that we would not miss it.
But why should I bitch? Our car has airconditioning and so did all of the wineries. Suffering was minimal.
(Allow me for a moment, however, to digress here and Be A Stereotypical Woman and say this: My hair looked like crap and gave me fits the entire six days of this vacation as well as the preceding one in Virginia. So much so that, in Virginia, I called my stylist from the resort in order to book an appointment for the day I returned, and my hair still looked like hell during my Canadian vacation. Honestly, I've just had it. I've switched shampoos four times, styling gel three times, tried something called a "root volumizer", and used a round brush while I blow dry. I've spent more time with my hair in the past month than I did with my kids during most of their babyhoods. At the age of fifty-three, I want to let go of My Hair as an Issue. I know my Vanity is an enormous Part Of My Pathology--I KNOW THAT. But every single woman in the world knows that, even if you have a mustard stain on your shirt, if your Hair Looks Great, nothing else matters. Even your mascara and do not get me started on that.)
Heavy Sigh. Anyway.
On one of the days when it was not terribly torrid, we went to The Niagara Horticultural College grounds and walked all over for hours, looking at all the various plants and trees and gorgeous vegetable and herb plantings. It took all my restraint not to raid some incredible onions, ruffly lettuces, perfectly chubby and charming cabbages, and grab some other interesting things I knew would be much happier in my yard. They have so many lovely trees there, too, and I am fascinated by the variety and placement of some of them, and the striking black squirrels they attract.
Near a large pond area was a Dawn Redwood, one of my favorite trees. As we approached it, we noticed these little...figures assembling all around its base. Here, look:
Can you see them? I took the photo with my iPhone as I walked nearer and nearer. I thought that perhaps they were a student project because they look like little carvings--like little Druids or something, and they were all converging to the right, like they were headed to worship or something. We moved closer to get a better look and another shot:
I soon discovered that these are, in fact, the upraised roots of this Dawn Redwood tree. They are very sturdy and some are covered in bark. There were other Dawn Redwoods on the grounds, and none but this had the little Druid Root People. This tree, though, was the only one near the water.
The Wild Trees, the terrific book that inspired my love of redwoods. But it was a long time ago that I read it; I think it's time to visit it again.
Once we were done wandering, we sat on a bench near the entrance to have a cold drink and do a little people-watching. The Niagara area is always great for that because it draws so many international visitors. We sat near a very lovely, very patient horse hitched to a carriage-for-hire. Nearby, its companion also waited, just as beautiful, but not nearly as patient, for it stamped its rear hoof whenever a child came near. Soon, we heard a lot of screaming. Not pained or frightened, just some kid who felt like screaming. It was a black-haired boy of about four with obviously a lot of energy. His parents were completely indifferent. He approached the cranky horse, who stamped his rear hoof several times. The driver skillfully intercepted the boy and stood at the horse's head. The patient horse was not so lucky. At least the boy settled somewhat for the following scene:
Boy approaches horse. Mother and father rush over. Father bends to speak to boy and then encourages him to pet the horse. Mother is obviously fretting, but holds up camera for photo.
Nance: That poor, long-suffering horse. Now that kid is going to badger it. You know darn well that instead of petting it, he'll clobber it.
Rick: The parents are oblivious.
Nance: I would think the best way to approach that horse would be to--
Rick: (interrupting)--get in there as quick as you can and just go for it! Before the horse even knows what hit it!
Nance: (looks at him in shock and disbelief)...What I was going to say is "hold the kid's hand and pet it very slowly so that he doesn't go crazy". What in the hell...?
Rick: Or, you could try that. Yeah. That.