Yesterday dawned gloomy and rainy, so of course Mr. Finger Candy and I decided it was the perfect day to take a wee country drive, head out to the little town I grew up in and visit its final farmers’ market of the season, purchase an abundance of holy-crap-that’s-good pastries, revisit the place where we were married and then perhaps swing by the site of one of my young life’s greatest embarrassments. So come along, won’t you, friends, as we get out of the city for a bit to admire the leaves and indulge in a bit of a nostalgia tour.
North Gower is the name of the little Eastern Ontario village I grew up in. It lays about half an hour outside of Ottawa, although with suburb-creep, “in town” is now just 15 minutes down the highway. This barn, and its crazy, higgeldy piggeldy attachments, lays on the Seabrook property on Roger Stevens Drive, right down the road from the 150-year-old farmhouse I used to call home (apologies for the lack of pictures, but on that score, the earth appears to be reclaiming my once-beautiful home. It actually hurts my heart to see what has become of it.)
Today the barn acts as the central site of the North Gower Farmers’ Market, a bustling local enterprise that began years after my family moved into the city. Dim lighting and a generally overcast day put a damper on taking any photos indoors, but the interior of the warm barn was stuffed with vendors’ tables, each bearing all sorts of cute and delicious-looking homemade goods like jams and jellies, knits and jewelry, soaps and candles and tons and tons of baked goods. There were also a number of tables outside bearing the veggie farmers’ wares, including tons of pumpkins, squash and gourds, and one pig farmer whose table I purposefully didn’t examine too closely (no judgement, but I just don’t have any particular need for half a pig in my life at the moment, you know?)
But I do apparently have a pressing need for pastries, because I fared quite well on that front, nabbing some absolutely fantastic Norwegian shortbread from one gentleman (as well as half a delicious, crispy pizza, not shown because we ate it!) and a buttermilk pie from Frank’s, which is apparently the home of Ottawa’s best butter tart. Huh, the things you learn in a day!
I also picked up these two beeswax sheep (ram?) candles, which I’ll never be able to melt now that my husband has gone and given them names, which are Baaa-ob and Doug Mackenzie.
But can we go back to talking about the shortbread for a moment? Because it was bloody fabulous and I wish I had bought sacks of the stuff (my waistline is glad I did not.) Buttery and tender and glazed with just the barest wash of vanilla and raspberry jam, they were some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. I kind of wish we had saved them to enjoy with an afternoon cuppa instead of just shoving them directly down our throats (kinda.)
After leaving the farmers’ market (carefully – parking was beginning to get a bit hairy) we drove to my elementary school, North Gower Marlborough Elementary, site of my first marriage in the kindergarten playground (never annulled; does that make me a bigamist?) It was also the place where I once fell over a chainlink fence and had to be rescued by my 5-foot-2 mother and where a very bad boy ripped the leg off my teddy bear (that very bad boy grew into a very bad man, and last I heard, he was a guest of Ontario’s Department of Corrections.) I also once ate too many apricot-flavoured Fruit Roll-Ups on a dare and then went on the tire swing and THEN threw up in the playground sand.
But my greatest, dumbest claim to fame (infamy) might be the time I got my tongue stuck to a dirty old metal well cover while playing Care Bears with my friends at recess and had to be rescued by a teacher bearing a teapot of warm water who probably went home that night and laughed her ass off every single time she thought about the dumbass kid at school that day she had to rescue because she got her tongue stuck to a dirty old metal well cover while playing Care Bears with her friends at recess.
I was only moderately sad to see that my old pal Dirty Old Metal Well Cover had long since been filled in and paved over, but just for old time’s sake, we took some photos of me reenacting the idiot crime, until my husband pointed out that it kind of looked like we were taking crime scene photos.
After that we drove back through town and then up the road a few minutes to Strathmere, which is where we were married 12 years ago this coming Halloween. I have virtually no exterior shots of our wedding, as the sun had already set by the time our ceremony was finished. That and our photographer was grossly incompetent (I also have NO photos of my parents and I (and my new husband) together, but that’s a rage story for another day.) So I was going to take a few photos of the barn yesterday (yes, we were married in a barn, and it was lovely) but when I rounded the corner, I found a very testy couple hurling rolls of tulle and bunting out the back of a pickup in the persistent, sprinkling rain. Gosh, I hope they weren’t the bride and groom – that’s kind of a lousy way to start things off, no?
The rain actually went on to completely clear up by afternoon’s end, but even before then, Mother Nature was putting on a beautiful show at Strathmere, like in this wee little secret garden tucked into the back cottages.
Or this lane between the parking lot and the main inn.
Or this gorgeous stand of trees edging the parking lot (again with the well-appointed parking lots!)
Or the gorgeous, leaf-carpeted lane that runs down from the highway and always reminds me of something out of Sleepy Hollow.
After that the rain began pelting down, so we skedaddled back home, but I had a wonderful morning revisiting some old haunts, checking out the foliage, finding a new pastry thing to obsess over. As Ice Cube would say, it was a good day.