'Twas a warm Sunday afternoon and I spent two hours at one of my happy places, where three trails meet along the Niagara Parkway recreational trail, near the wee parking lot at the east end of John Street.
I was right by the river, so my cellphone was cutting out. I put it in my pocket. Ah, relax …
Late in the afternoon, about 5 p.m., and the shadows from the trees were getting longer. Cyclists were hustling along the trail, finishing their healthy days in the fresh air.
Every picnic table and barbecue was occupied. Families were loving each other and the peaceful vibes gently encouraged me to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in Niagara.
Like the Niagara River: so much water continuing its flow from the upper lakes to Lake Ontario, then along the St. Lawrence River, almost a thousand kilometres to the Atlantic Ocean.
The visitors, mostly folks from Canada's vibrant South Asian communities, several intergenerational families. Grandparents sitting peacefully in lawn chairs, effulgent clothing, being taken care of by children and grandchildren.
Younger kids playing tag or badminton, volleyball or soccer. Two dads manning the barbecues, open flames, cooking tasty foods with their traditional recipes. The smoky smells treated me to a sensory olfactory trip to India. And they were all so obviously comfortable in their home country, Canada.
This is their culture, taking time for family gatherings. We should learn from them. Love. Slow down. Be gracious and kind. Everyone at peace.
All Canadians are better people because of this melange. Viva our country of immigration. It's been this way for centuries, and it continues.
Every few minutes, the silence was broken by the macho roar of muscle cars along the Parkway past Paradise Grove. Then, the throaty roar of open-pipe motorcycles, at one point more than 30 easy riders in a leathery convoy. Fairly deafening. None of the picnic people seemed to notice the noise.
Later at Simcoe Park, I was drawn to a dad loading two colourful and small bicycles onto the back of his SUV. I chatted with the dad, Ajay Kukreja from Mississauga.
Along with family and friends, they visit NOTL often. They always feel good vibes and “the bike trails and parks are the best.” He was very personable, so I felt comfortable asking him if he had any suggestions to make Niagara-on-the-Lake even more visitor friendly.
He pondered, smiled, and said, “In another week or two, it will be so crowded with tourists.” We looked at each other, laughed, and I said, “Ajay, that is a memorable and honest thought. A tourist saying there will be too many tourists. ”
Ajay and his uncle had noticed the spelling of Mississagua Road coming into town. So had former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion when she came here in January 2018 to watch her friend Betty Disero be sworn in as NOTL's first female lord mayor.
The Kukreja family love Ryerson Park, so we agreed to meet there later for sunset. I drove back to my Parkway trail happy place to look for my forgotten Montreal Expos cap.
Straggling cyclists and walkers were heading home. The park, picnic tables and empty parking lot were all neat and tidy. The Niagara Parks Commission trash bins were full. Soon to be emptied.