It’s a beautifully sunny and warm fall day in Niagara, the leaves have turned magnificent colours and it’s inspired me to get out and be among it all. I put on a good pair of walking shoes and headed up the damp, silent escarpment accompanied only by acorn gathering squirrels. I came out at Queenston Heights Park at the top of the escarpment. Brock’s Monument towered over the stone gates and the flowers in between reminded me of a scene in Europe – perhaps Paris.
I continued past the roundabout and headed for the river. The Niagara River is 500-feet below ground level here, the violent rapids swirling far below the dramatic rock cliffs. I stop to look at the hypnotizing water far below. The sight is somehow peaceful and I pause to marvel at the humbling power of it all.
I keep going under the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, through the Queenston Power Station, past the Lilac Gardens to the Floral Clock. On this beautiful day, there is only one car in the parking lot and 3 people admiring the massive floral creation that keeps time so beautifully. Why is no one here?
I keep going and lament that there are no café’s to rest, sip a glass of sparkling wine and enjoy a delicious pastry. Walking riverside, the natural beauty combined with the brilliant colours of fall are simply stunning. Just sitting on a park bench here would make anyone feel better about life.
I arrive at the Niagara Botanical Gardens and still no café offering any kind of civil, thirst quenching rest. No one is here except a few horticultural students turning the earth in a flowerbed. I walk around the grounds, the flowers are full and bursting, like they’re giving their last hurrah before they rest for the winter – it’s so magically beautiful – I wish I had a good book to sit in these surroundings, warmed by the sun and surrounded by the peace and solitude. I wonder why no one is here. In Europe, the parks are always full of people out to feel good in them.
As I walk along I can’t imagine an English garden looking so beautiful and giving more pleasure than these grounds. I pass the vegetable gardens and the buildings to the right remind me of an English cottage. To my left are perfectly manicured hedge gardens with strategically placed fountains, artwork and flowers – I’m thinking this is very much a modern day Versailles.
To the far right, on the other side of the vegetable gardens there is a high wall of hedges. I remember the magnificent peacocks that once lived here but they were taken away a few years ago – pity. It always reminded me of Italy to walk the vegetable gardens and go behind the hedge and talk to the peacocks.
I continue along to the rose garden and the magnificent fountain and trellises come into view. I’m once again thrown into a European scene. This time is could be Spain with the detail of it all, yet amazingly no one is here. I stand perfectly still to take it all in.
I do a loop around the park and head back home along the parkway. I pick up the pace to cassoulet speed for some good exercise. Just imagine you have a reservation at the most famous restaurant in Toulouse for cassoulet. You can hardly stand the anticipation and you look down at your watch – OMG, you’re going to be late! But there’s still hope so you do your best – this is cassoulet speed.
I get home and pull cork on a bottle of sparkling wine – finally a respite of civility! It’s noon and time for lunch. I don’t have any escargot, French onion soup or Croque Madame in the fridge but I do have some cold turkey. It’s good to be back in Niagara after being in Europe for a month and a half, but there’s so much of Europe that’s become a huge part of me. Life can be unfair at times, but it’s days like today I’m reminded of how good it can be.