There has been no air conditioning in my home since July 20, when high winds drove a tree branch into the compressor and ended its long life.
“Not a problem,” I thought. “It’ll soon be August … how bad can it get?”
End of summer, Southern Ontario, high humidity … you get the picture.
We didn’t do too badly, with ceiling fans and open windows keeping the air flowing, but I have never been so thankful to see the end of the hot season as I am this year.
I am actually excited to see autumn arrive, with its cooler temperatures and vibrant colours. A change to the trees signifies, to me, a change to a simpler lifestyle, with more home-oriented activities and fewer complications.
Putting by preserves, saving summer’s bounty … tomato sauce, salsa, Concord grape jelly … and a return to winter kitchen habits that include cooking for comfort in the form of soups, stews, fresh breads and simple baked goods – for me, this is the most exciting time of year.
Just looking out my back window at the changing foliage gives me a thrill. The spicy scent of the poplars lining my neighbourhood streets carries through the air, like the finish from the first sip of a Niagara cabernet.
Taking in Ontario’s autumn wardrobe has long been a favourite activity. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, if colour is your thing, now is the perfect time to start planning a camping or day trip.
If it’s a provincial park you are interested in visiting, the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report shows you when colours are at their peak across the province.
Updated regularly, the website gives details like percentage of colour change and percentage of leaf fall, plus a detailed, colour-coded map.
If you’re planning to stay overnight at a provincial park, campsites can be reserved online 24 hours a day or by calling the park reservation line at 1-888-ONT-PARK between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.
If you don’t want to go further afield than Niagara, a trip to wine country can satisfy your craving for fall colour.
From Stoney Creek all the way to Niagara Falls, autumn scenery will delight the senses, with routes suitable for driving or for navigating on bicycles.
Throughout Southern Ontario, the bounty of the harvest is everywhere to be enjoyed. Culinary adventures can be as simple as a visit to roadside stands for fresh fruits and vegetables, to savouring the exceptional vintages and regional cuisine offered up by winery restaurants.
Once an early 19th-century hamlet, Ball’s Falls features an operational mill, two waterfalls, numerous historic buildings and lovely nature trails.
Coming up soon is the area’s Thanksgiving Festival, which brings together more than 140 artisans, living history demonstrations, musicians and children’s entertainers for four days in this setting aglow with fall colours.
Don’t neglect the nearby Woodend Conservation Area. Part of the Bruce Trail, this 45-hectare site encompasses a scenic lookout and War of 1812 battery point atop the Niagara Escarpment, and marked hiking trails through a Carolinian forest.
Likewise, Shorthills Provincial Park, a 660-hectare natural area has hiking trails for humans and horses and interesting geological formations. Its hilly landscape was defined by glaciers about 12,800 years ago, when the retreating ice mass caused Lake Warren to flood its expanse. Lake Warren eventually became Lake Erie.
The website Exploring Niagara has plenty of details about other areas in the region, from the shores of Lake Ontario to the shores of Lake Erie, and plenty of sites in between.
View attractions in categories like forgotten places, historic destinations, parks and beaches, recreational trails and towns and cities – surely, something for every taste.
There are far too many gorgeous areas in Niagara to mention them all. And the point isn’t to force people to get out and about. The point is that out there is beautiful and this is a perfect time of year to take it all in.
So what if I have no air conditioning? The weather is perfect – low humidity, no bugs – it’s sweater weather.
I have sweaters, and I love Niagara.
I’m going outside.
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