Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 43 - Niagara Falls Rest Day

How would you choose to spend your rest day in Niagara Falls?

I would spend mine getting out of Niagara!

First I go for a soothing Aveda facial.

I ask Mandy, my Canadian facialist, what she thinks about America.

She is cautious - doesn't want to offend the customer - she says our music is better known...

...says she doesn't know much about America, but she's heard about our health care and she's glad she's Canadian.

Then I take a taxi out to Ball's Falls - a nature center.

I ask my taxi driver about today's holiday.

It's a civic holiday, he explains. No special event.

On top of the usual times like Christmas, they have some long weekend holidays.

More than one? I ask. How many civic holidays are there?

Twelve, he says.


Ball's Falls is a quiet place - just what I want.

Hundreds of acres of woods, falls and picnic areas.

They have an education center which is LEED certified.

The water is recycled.

The building materials, locally made.

Solar lighting.

I talk with their activities director, Angela.

She is just back from her one year maternity leave.

This place gives you one year off with your baby? I ask, incredulous.

Oh, everyone in Canada gets a year. she says.

Is this a civilized country or what?

Balls Falls is along the Niagara Escarpment - a cliff between two land masses that extends from New York up into Canada then down west of Lake Michigan towards Chicago.

Does this mean it could earthquake?

This is a lovely place for families.

The kids see all kinds of wildlife here.

I just love the peace and quiet...

So glad to be out of Niagara Falls.

I see my first New England aster.

I love the brilliant purple flowers.

And so do the butterflies.

I go looking for the falls.

The path takes me through their historic village founded by the Ball brothers.

I wonder if they're related to the Ball brothers that founded Ball Glass in Muncie Indiana.

Their family has been a huge supporter of my charity, the Red-tail Conservancy.

Huge old barn.

The beams still show the rough edges where an axe blow chopped a solid tree trunk into straight angles.

Maybe I am sensitive right now to our muscles and how they react to stress, but I can almost feel the steely, sweaty arms of the pioneers axing those logs.

The floor - made of long planks of wood - wood we couldn't even dream of today - from back when the trees had grown slowly so the grain is tight.

Wooden planks broad because the trees were so large before they were cut down - by hand.

Very different from today's tree plantations - we're into fast growth and cut them as soon as usable.

I find a back stairwell into the basement.

It's cool and dark.

I listen to the soft sounds of footsteps over head.

People step slowly here - looking around in awe, respectful.

I think about the contrast with the noise and lights of Niagara Falls.

I'm glad I'm here.

Back on my mission - to find the falls.

I'm not the only one.

I follow a family with two young boys.

Are they twins? I ask.

No, they are cousins visiting the falls for a family picnic.

And yes! they lead me to the falls!

Water crashing 200 feet to the gorge below.

Birds flit in and out of the whooshing waters catching bugs - or just playing.

And look - the German lady with the big camera is on the other side right next to the falls!

I need to get there!

So I circle around up the river...

...careful not to disturb the old man enjoying his moment in the sun.

I find the secret entrance...

Down a narrow path - careful for the poison ivy!

And I find the walkout to the very edge of the falls.

I sit on the flat stone - only a few feet from the plummet.

Alone now... the families and old man have gone home to dinner.

And I have time to reflect...

...on water

....on silence

...on what my spirit needs on a day of rest.

I think about Al's impression of Niagara Falls.

How she stands at the edge and sees the water hesitate - pausing - scared before cascading into the crashing waves below.

I need to go.

Back up the public path to the center I hear a last Dad telling his son - "We're going on a nature adventure.

One last pause of my own...

....before I re-enter the crashing noise of civilization.

Dinner with Al...

We share our days.

Her day - a young one - exciting, energetic - packed with the sights and sounds of a new place.

My day - slow, quiet, reflective.

Do we rest like we bike?

We watch reflections on our walk to the hotel.

Tomorrow we begin the last leg of our adventure across the country...

Post a Comment