By MAGGIE M, Editor, http://thewedge.LIVE
At times everyone feels the tug of tranquility, an escape from mobile ringtones, tedious routines and gnawing responsibility. We forget to breathe deeply, to commune with the earth from whence we came.
Our region is covered in secret places that heal, places of solace.
This writer frequents a few spots during warmer months, not for inspiration, but for escape. My focus turns to nature, every sound, every view suffices.
In my escapades, I had a tete-a-tete with a red fox, I discovered squirrel nests, I quacked with ducks. I closed my eyes and listened to birds cackling, “human incoming!” The rippling roar of rivers drown the voices within; I call this a, ‘brain massage‘.
Our land does not solve problems, nor seek to create new things. It gives of itself freely and if your senses are fully engaged, you will receive.
CARLETON PLACE ESCAPES
The Mississippi River which runs East-West through Carleton Place is fully accessible to the public from one end to the other.
The river offers miles of foot trekking along its shores, from docks on the West, paths in the large, beautiful Riverside Park, ending on a suspended walkway in the East. It crosses a forest and opens on the raging river’s edge. The walkway is a spectacle of squirrels and birds migrating overhead, in chorus.
In Carleton Place, you can also fish near the bridge which connects two old mills, trek along the white waters on its high embankments or climb down the rocky edges and paddle your feet in the water. There are many spots to settle-in and watch ‘the show.’
The key is to get a front seat, alone. You are eavesdropping on nature. You cannot hear its lyrics, its music, or witness its complex choreography accompanied by anyone.
In the core, behind City Hall, an historic beauty, you can sit at a canopied table while you listen to the water break beneath your feet. Dusk is especially beautiful; the water is a sea of reflective glass and high tide for solace.
It is all so much more peaceful in late afternoons and early evenings as all of creation slows down.
Almonte is a precious jewel in the middle of nowhere, fifteen minutes north of Carleton Place. A first-time visitor will gasp at its beauty, natural and man-made. World-class shopkeepers and restaurants are inches from the waterfall shown above. The experience is almost as peculiar at the Ponte Vecchio in Florence where shops are located on the bridge.
You can find many spots to sit and gaze at this wonder while sipping on a soda from Baker Bob’s. Then you can climb the steep hill and admire, ‘storefront artisanery’. If it seems like a Southern Belle will erupt from a doorway, it is merely an allusion.
SMITHS FALLS ESCAPES
Smiths Falls offers many soulful views; but, this tiny island accessible from hanging walkways offers locals a getaway in the centre of town, in the middle of the Rideau. You can sit on the rocks at its centre, sit back and hear the water gushing on all sides. You may be lucky and have the place to yourself.
There is a little parking lot opposite Old Slys Locks, often empty, where you can put your feet up and watch the boats waiting their turn to enter the locks. Different strokes for different folks. It’s one my secret places.
MURPHY’S POINT ESCAPE
This canoe launch is quiet and filled with the sounds of tiny creatures. Embankments all around feel, ‘in-utero’. Water occasionally ripples from distant craft. This place is the heart of tranquility.
You will need to splurge for a day pass; but, it is a few zillion quids less than jetting off to foreign soil. Murphy’s Point, half-way between Perth and Westport, will deliver solace in spades. Reward yourself with Kawartha Ice Cream in the lodge on your way out–or in.
CHAFFEYS LOCK ESCAPE
Chaffeys Locks features many tourist high points, museums, and the Opinicon Resort; but, its edifices seem to fit into nature and not the reverse. You can sit in myriad places, take-in the colours and the slow pace. An artist would struggle to keep paints in the box. It is a beautiful place to gaze, in every direction.
The Opinicon is a throw-back to a place I loved: my grandparents cottage. The hunter green and butter yellow palette of the buildings fits into coniferous trees nicely. You can pass through the diner and take your fare to the point or umpteen spots where you can soak in the view. It is perfect for an extended escape; sometimes an hour is just not enough.
If you find respite in the sound of masts clinking in the breeze and crafts sauntering in and out of a port, Portland delivers. This village has an exceptional marina that sits in a spectacular inlet. It is a beautiful spot to park your soul.
The tiniest beach in North America may be Portland Beach; but, this is its draw. Bring a towel and soak in the view. It’s a five minute walk to the grocer for a soda or an ice cream.
If you don’t want sand creeping into your nether regions, sit in the gazebo a hundred yards south. The view is the same: Beautiful, Big Rideau Lake.
Westport is the ultimate beach town in the wedge. Inflatable toys, colourful towels, beach wraps, collectibles, dangle from shop entrances. It is a hotspot for tourists; but, there is a bench, on a little island in the marina beckoning me. I can only utter, “I’ll be there soon!”
You can sit there quietly under tree shade admiring Upper Rideau Lake for hours. The picture above is worth a thousand solaces. Again, ice cream, floats, and fresh-baked goods are around the corner, accessible by flip-flops.
Most people don’t think of Fort Henry as an escape; but, in late afternoons, when the fort is closing you can sit on its hills and admire history, Wolfe Island, passing sailboats, in absolute peace. I sat here and attest to its high escape value.
We do not always need entertainment, distractions. Sometimes we just need to get away. And it could be within walking distance.
Hopefully you have your own secret places–not the backyard. If not, you can now get in the car and go!
STAY-TUNED FOR MORE SECRET SOLACES : Perth, Prescott and many more.