Lament as summer comes to an end…

“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.” Harper Lee, author – To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.

My blog is, at times, a record of the different activities we enjoy in this area as the seasons change. Rereading posts such as this one, reminds me that we cannot take anything for granted.  Since this post was published in 2015, Mariposa Farm has closed. So many businesses decided to call it quits during Covid. Who would have thought we would have come to such a standstill for several years of our lives as we did during the pandemic? Back in 2015, that possibility never crossed my mind!

The Ottawa River remains as attractive as ever. We still enjoy biking along its shores. For so many years we have brought our kids and then our grandchildren biking and walking along its pathways. New features have improved this route for us: chairs and benches have been placed in strategic areas to be able to take advantage of the peaceful scenery or have a picnic. And the NCC Riverhouse is not to be missed! There is always something interesting to see along the mighty river. (September 2023)

Harper Lee’s words have just the right touch of nostalgia for the long lost summers of childhood.

Who wouldn’t want to revisit the innocence of youth and the ignorance of the dangers lurking just beyond our own little yard? Looking back to the summers of long ago, we, like Harper Lee, might think of all the summer pleasures of a time gone by with a bit of sadness.

For some of us, there is still time for camping and outdoor adventures, sightseeing and visiting new places. For others, the fall routine has begun.

Children have returned to school and I celebrated the event with friends over several nights this week. Each September marks another year I am free from worrying about grading papers, problem students, course preps, and administrative duties associated with teaching. Of course, each September reminds me that I am a year older too as I count the number of years I have been retired!

August nights quietly but surely slip into the cooler September evenings. Glorious, sunny September still has remnants of summer to entice us outdoors: breezy days, pools of sunlight in yards with fading flowers, warm waters for one last swim…People gather around fire pits in back yards as the days shorten and we move into October.

A few Canada geese are heard before they are seen heading south.

Their distinctive call in the sky will only intensify as the gaggles get bigger and fly to warmer destinations in the weeks ahead. They too know that summer has come to an end, and the recent heat wave is only a last gasp before fall sets in.

The present time must be enjoyed and there are summer rituals and festivities still to be observed.

One of them is the Labour Day weekend Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival.

This is the view across the Ottawa River at dawn (yes, I was there at 6:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning) from the lookout point in Rockliffe Park.

A few crazy people gather with their lawn chairs to watch events on the other side  (Quebec) of the river,  waiting for the first morning lift off of the hot air balloons. Some of us needed blankets and coffee…it was a very cool morning and my toes were frozen.

I had not dressed appropriately and a warm-up walk down to the river where there is a marina and a restaurant was just what I needed to feel my toes again.

Customers had gathered at the outdoor restaurant and were being served their cup of java by the time the first balloons started to lift silently into the sky.

I was surprised at the activity on the river even at this early hour. People were canoeing, kayaking, or sculling. Ottawa is a beautiful place for all kinds of water sports.

summer lament

This old abandoned boat would be a good subject for a watercolour painting at some time in the future. I am always looking for potential inspiration for my art.

The end of “Sunday Bike Days” also occurs Labour Day weekend.

We have often taken advantage of the closed parkways to exercise without worrying about traffic. Our preferred route follows the Ottawa River, but we have also cycled along the Rideau Canal downtown to Carleton University, and have ridden on bike paths through wooded areas on the Quebec side all the way to the Aylmer Marina.

biking on Sunday Bike Days on Ottawa River Parkway.

The final and best tradition for us this long weekend is our end of summer brunch at Mariposa Farm, a wooded 200 acre property, 45 minutes east of the city.

Although by all means not our only or last visit of the year, a summer brunch is always a pleasure for the senses at Mariposa. The minute we enter the property, we know we are in for a treat.

Owners Ian Walker and Suzanne Lavoie raise ducks, geese, poultry, for restaurants in the Ottawa area and for their own restaurant as well as grow their produce and promote local food.

Each Sunday, Suzanne and Ian greet guests as they enter the restaurant and Suzanne presents the menu for the day which always features a choice of three entrees, three main courses, and two desserts and a cheese plate. Regional products such as cheese are always on the menu.

We have been going to Mariposa for the last ten years, at least three times a year, and have never been disappointed. The food is always delicious and fresh, and the owners are very friendly and often know their guests by name as so many of us keep returning time after time.

Below: Chef Matthew and Suzanne Lavoie

The Mariposa duck which the farm supplies to high end restaurants in Ottawa was cooked to perfection. Mouth watering! Everything was simply scrumptious.

Guests at this charming, rustic dining room have a view of the countryside in the distance and the vegetable gardens nearby. The farm animals are quite used to all the comings and goings.

Each season offers its own beauty to patrons at Mariposa.

So, with reluctance, we say goodbye to summer, a soon to be forgotten memory, and hope that fall and winter will be kind to us.

3 Responses

  • This post made me think of a novel I read by Mary Jane Maffini. I can’t remember the title but the action was set during the hot air balloon festival. Although I do not live in Ottawa, I have enjoyed an excellent brunch at Mariposa and I look forward to returning soon.

  • What a lovely story relating to Summer and it’s close. As you know we are just getting over a very cold Australian Winter, go on laugh ????????. Our days are slowly starting to warm up, but the evenings are still quite cool. A bit of a teaser this coming weekend when the temperature will rise to 20 c , but we know it will be short lived. With the El Niño we are expecting Spring to be cool and wet, but the beautiful flowering trees are all starting to burst into flower making it all worth while. Am missing our garden, what we have here in the new residence is very barren at the moment. Can’t wait to get our landscaper in and make everything look like we would like it to be.

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