Sunday, December 13, 2009

anywhere but here

It's not often I can say during these last few years, that I like the cold or the snow. Call it getting older, I'm not sure really, but there are moments in this cold climate of ours on Canada's East Coast when I think I can't stand it for one winter longer, and fewer moments still each year when I can't imagine living anywhere else. Unlike the days of when I was a kid, and my mom letting my little brother and I dress in snowsuits and lie outside on the snowbank in our front yard to catch snowflakes on our tongues, I no longer relish the snow. Being the romantic that I am, that surprises me. I used to get butterflies in my tummy at first snowfall and make my husband drop everything he was doing, to have us take a walk in our first snowfall of the year together. But I have to say, today was a day, in the bitter cold, when I couldn't possibly fathom a Christmas spent in balmy temperatures surrounded by palm trees (and trust me when I say, prior to today, there have been many!).

Today, we had the privilege of experiencing a Norman Rockwell Christmas moment if ever there was one. We have this wonderful lady, Sue is her name, who cares for our Golden Retriever, Murphy, when we are away. Sue and her family own a gorgeous property about a 15 minute drive from us. There they have their home on a huge lot of land, a brook running through the property some distance from the house where she takes daily walks with her dogs and the others she so lovingly cares for, and the kennels as well as her dog grooming business. What I didn't know was that Sue also owns a horse, and he/she is kept at a stable yet another 5 minute drive from her home in an area called Glenlevit. Sue called a couple of weeks ago to invite us to an afternoon at the stables, for horse drawn sleigh rides and an appearance from Santa. Joe and I had been set to Christmas shop away this weekend, but couldn't imagine missing out on this for Lizzy, so we stuck around the weekend and attended the much awaited event. And we were not disappointed.

"Boudreau Lane, Boudreau Lane...was that what she had said"? We followed the jeep in front of us as it looked familiar, and sure enough, he led us straight to our destination. What I saw as we turned the bend in the road, were white covered fields of glistening diamonds as the sun shone brightly, a huge barn in the background, a beautiful newer home situated at an angle on sprawling fenced property and tons of vehicles. This must be it!

We park our car and shuffle up the long lane in our snow boots and insulated pants to find a team of horses harnessed up to a long red wagon and a load of people climbing out, young and old...Christmas music playing, a bonfire on to the left where some were warming their toes, others roasting marshmallows (and not the reverse altho I later was tempted in my falsely labelled -25 cold protected boots). Just as those were unloading from the horses, along came a tractor with another load for drop off, while another line had formed for those wanting to be on the next run. Hot apple cider was being circulated on trays, a grill was running with hot dogs for anyone with a hunger, complete with condiments. A huge inflatable snowman stood proudly in the open upper part of the barn, the fence boards outlining the fields were decorated with green garland swags and red bows, and the front doors of the barn were open to more obvious activity...a table covered in festive tablecloths with thermal dispensers of fresh brewed coffee and hot chocolate, and beside them, trays of home baked holiday sweets which never seemed to run completely empty. The horses in the stables were being fed by little hands holding feeders of carrots and apples, and one, Ladie, was even in her festive coif of braided mane with pretty bright red bows. After several waits to get on the horse drawn ride, it was announced the horses would be returning following a short break...and did they!! With a full-fledged roley poley Santa onboard carrying a huge red toy bag stuffed with treatbags for every child there. Once we calmed Lizzy down after having been traumatized by the thoughts of sitting on Santa's knee, we boarded for our turn on the horse drawn ride making our own tracks through the diamonds.  

Now you may be thinking..."What's the big deal? You live in Canada, you do that kind of thing all the time, don't you?". Perhaps, for some yes...for me, it was a first, for my husband from Germany a first, and for my 3 year old daughter a first. What was so heartwarming about this event tho, was that not one person attending, was charged for anything! This event was hosted by a group of friends who shared stable care for their horses, and who just thought it would be a great idea to host such an event for the young and old alike at Christmas time. Yes, the rides, the fire, the music and the food all held outdoors on a chilly winters day just days before Christmas was big enough, but what touched me, was that it was all done purely out of the goodness of their hearts...without profits, or even covering their own expenses. What an incredible and heartwarming gift...donating their time, and talents as well as absorbing all costs involved, only to give to others, and expecting nothing in return!

Well, all I can say to that is WOW and Thanks! Thank you for your generosity, but mostly for setting such a remarkeable example and reminding us all what Christmas is truly all about. Any warm feeling I had lost in my toes, was more than made up for in my heart, for it truly was a Norman Rockwell Christmas moment I'm not likely to forget. And I'm thinking it's left me with the feeling that I can't imagine a Christmas, anywhere but here.    

Many thanks to Greg Dion, owner of Cedar Creek Farms, and to all who gave in hosting the wonderful event.


jeff700 said...

You captured my feelings of the afternoon exactly as I was thinking them....and I to, forgot how much I dislike Winter the whole time I was there, just to see the children all excited and running around enjoying themselves. You forgot to mention that each anad everyone there, had a huge smile on their faces...adults seems to have awakened what was missing in our hearts....I enjoyed myself, my 2 boys also and only hope we are invited back next year...

Anonymous said...

oh my lord Leslie

you are making me cry. Not only do you have a gift of photography, but you also have a real gift with words. I bet your english teacher would be proud of you.

French Vanilla said...

Looking at these pictures reminds me of my many Christmas's spent while growing up in Edmonton! I forgot how beautiful the snow looks on a bright and crisp day! Here on the West Coast all we get is rain....rain and more rain! Great pictures, thanks for posting!

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and prosperous New Year! Ü