By Caitlin Kelly
Never a dull moment, kids!
On day two of our vacation, we decided to visit the final day of the Picton County Fair, in Prince Edward County, about two hours east of Toronto.
It was one of those perfect fall afternoons — hot sunshine with a cool breeze.
– a lawnmower race (Jason plowed into a hay bale)
– a collection of antique tractors, including one from 1926 and this one from 1953
– the entries in the flower and food competitions
– some fantastic quilts, embroidery, crochet and hooked rugs
– a huge red $175,000 tractor
– a very stubborn goat who, when it was time to parade around the ring for the 4H contest, dug in his hooves, bleated and simply refused to budge
– some gorgeous vintage automobiles, including this one
Watching the four young girls posing with their goats was fascinating, as they moved, kneeling in the sawdust, from one side of their animal to the other, rearranged their goat’s legs for the best pose, and awaited the judge’s decision.
It takes a lot of poise and training to wrangle a small stubborn beast, and I admired their dedication. In New York, the girls would have been the ones preening and posing, nervously subject to dismissal.
Here, instead, they were in charge.
And we really liked the judge’s decision to hoist the stubborn one and move him into the ring to get on with it, already. He could have left its owner crying at the entrance, but he didn’t.
I loved seeing all the skills people here are proud of, whether growing a 74 pound pumpkin or hooking a rug…I couldn’t do any of them!
It’s humbling to be reminded how little city-folk generally know about how to care for animals or vegetables or fruit or how to create lovely things for your home. Instead, we buy stuff from enormous corporations, most of it made by low-wage labor in some distant Asian sweatshop.
The inn we chose is simply amazing, a square white building built in 1838 and moved to its current location a few years ago in numbered pieces, then re-constructed by a local historian.
A pair of Toronto lawyers have poured Godknowshowmuchmoney into renovating it, to perfection. It’s a little austere, but serene, all in calm, neutral colors: rust, cream, olive, black.
It has only four guest rooms, but we were the only people here for all three nights.
So we had this exquisite place all to ourselves: wide plank floors, some original glass in the windows casting bubbled and swirling shadows, a formal oil portrait in the hallway. I love looking out at the trees through ancient glass, wondering what others were thinking when they did so a century and a half ago.
The only sound we can hear is wind rustling the crisping leaves, blown from Lake Ontario across the street.
The front door handle is small, round, brass — even opening the door transports you to a different time and way of moving through space.
I imagine being a woman of the period, alighting from our carriage, and sweeping in with a wide, bustled skirt to a home with no electricity, wi-fi or telephone.
And the stars here are glorious, the Milky Way blessedly once more visible.
I even saw a shooting star.