Today was a big one in Queensborough, Day 1 of the two-day Marmora Area Canoe and Kayak Festival (Mackfest for short) that sees dozens and dozens of hardy kayakers test their mettle against the fast-flowing Black River and end up in the centre of our hamlet. It’s a fun and colourful annual spectacle for those of us who live here – not to mention for the kayakers, many of whom come from a long way away to take part.
For many of us Queensborough “regulars,” Mackfest means it’s time to help out with Treats on the Black River. Volunteers gather on the spacious lawns of Elaine and Lud Kapusta’s historic house at the heart of town and serve up barbecued burgers and hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee and cold drinks, and slices of pie for as far as the eye can see to those cold and famished kayakers as they emerge from the water. The money made from food sales goes to support the Queensborough Community Centre and its many activities.
Today was my first time taking part as a full-time resident of Queensborough, and it was a fun, if chilly, experience. The best part was the heartfelt thanks the kayakers offered for the great food and the warmth of the fire – a nice welcome for them after their labours. They were so pleasant and appreciative, and their thanks made you feel just great. I want to show you some photos I took of the day’s activity – but first I have to tell you about an important lesson I learned today. Which is: if you live in the country, you have to have long underwear.
I had made a note to self after a brief stay at last year’s Mackfest in Queensborough about the need for long underwear – and then of course had completely forgotten about it. Really, never in my life (before today) had I seriously considered purchasing a pair of what I believe are still called long johns. I am not remotely a winter-sports enthusiast, and do my best to stay indoors where it’s warm throughout the cold months. My father, the minister/farmer/woodlot manager and world’s hardest worker, was a big believer in long underwear – as he had to be, working outside as he did for extraordinarily long hours in all weather. But me? I’m a big softy.
So I felt like a dope today when I showed up where the volunteers were setting up. I was bundled reasonably well (layers, you know) on top, but clad only in a thin pair of trousers on the bottom. “I hope you’ve got your long underwear on!” joked our friend and neighbour John. “Ummm…,” said I – “Don’t own any.” “Well you’d better put on a pair of pyjama bottoms underneath then,” advised John. And you know what? Since I was already getting cold, and I’d just got there, I went straight home and did exactly as he suggested. I pulled out a pair of garish plaid flannel PJ bottoms, put ’em on under my trousers, and felt a thousand times better as soon as I re-emerged into the raw, windy, damp day. And let me tell you, that extra layer served me well. So: note to self (and any other city slickers who may be listening): if you’re going to spend time in the country, do yourself a favour and get yourself some long underwear. My quick online research shows that they sell it at Sears, Mark’s and L.L. Bean, among others – there’s just no excuse!
Okay, with that lesson learned, let’s move on to a little slide show of the day’s activity. And people, keep in mind that Mackfest continues tomorrow (Sunday), with lots more kayakers expected. Come on down, or over, to Queensborough, take in the spectacle under what are expected to be warmer and sunnier skies – and stop in for the best barbecued hamburger you’ll ever taste. Oh, and did I mention the pie?