An Adirondack chair is just the thing.

Adirondack chair at the Manse

Our new – to us, although in reality vintage – Adirondack chair, in the shade of the ash tree on the south lawn of the Manse. Pretty inviting, non?

As I’ve mentioned before, the Manse’s lawn is fairly expansive. It’s not a rambling estate or anything like that, but when a person has to rake up all the spring debris or fall leaves, that person (who happens to be me) gains a new respect for the size of the property. As I’ve also mentioned before, the lawn is wildly uneven, making it perfect for some challenging croquet or bocce games that have not yet taken place on it, but will, you can be sure.

And when it’s all nicely mowed (which our neighbour John looks after, doing an absolutely excellent job) and there’s been enough rain to keep things green, it is a very handsome lawn indeed, if I do say so myself.

And what does a nice green handsome lawn need? Why, an Adirondack chair, of course!

Not everybody loves Adirondack chairs – or, as they’re sometimes called in Ontario, Muskoka chairs. Some people find it uncomfortable to sink so far down into a wooden chair, and they also find it hard to get out again. But I quite like them. I think they look like the epitome of summer; and I like the fact that their wide arms give you lots of space to park the book you’re reading, your phone and/or camera, and perhaps a refreshing beverage. And I also find them extraordinarily comfortable.

So I was quite chuffed to see a gently used cream-coloured Adirondack chair out on the sidewalk in front of Madoc vintage/antique store Kim’s Kollectibles this past weekend. But there was no price tag on it, so I thought maybe it was just there for the customers (or maybe the patron) to relax in.

But happily for Raymond and me, when I inquired of Kim’s very affable husband, who was minding the store in her absence, it turned out it was indeed for sale. And at a great price! “Five bucks,” he told me. “You can’t beat that.”

You know what? You can’t. And as the photo at the top of this post proves, I didn’t even try. Does that Adirondack chair not look like it totally belongs at the Manse?

You just never know, or: happy surprises (updated)

I don't know about you, but I think this brown-and-white basin/ewer/etc. set that we found at Kim's Kollectibles in Madoc is very pretty indeed; and wouldn't the ewer (pitcher) look beautiful with a cluster of narcissus and/or daffodils in it?

I don’t know about you, but I think this brown-and-white china basin/ewer/etc. set that we found (on sale!) at Kim’s Kollectibles in Madoc over the long weekend is very pretty indeed; and wouldn’t the ewer (pitcher) look beautiful with a cluster of narcissus and/or daffodils in it?

Our blooming narcissus plant in the Manse's garden.

Our blooming narcissus plant in the Manse’s garden.

Good evening, readers! Tonight’s post is coming to you a tiny bit earlier than last night’s, when Raymond and I had been out for an absolutely delightful dinner with some friends from our church here in Montreal, the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. It was late when we got in so I did a quick post featuring little more than a snapshot of a narcissus plant that we practically watched go into bloom over the Victoria Day weekend at the Manse in Queensborough. (Remember those old slo-mo films of flowers bursting into bloom? On OECA – the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, now TVOntario? Yes you do. At least, you do if you are somewhere around my age and grew up in Ontario.)

Anyway.

As I said, that narcissus post was a quick one, just to get my (self-imposed) daily post requirement fulfilled before a late bedtime. But what a nice and surprising response I got to it! Which goes to prove this: you just never know.

The response came in the form of an email from Ernie Pattison, one-half of the Pattison-brother duo/trio (Ernie and Gary Pattison, and Gary’s wife, Lillian) behind the wonderful things (the Old Hastings Mercantile and the Old Omsby Schoolhouse “Educated Dining” and Tearoom ) that are happening in the tiny hamlet of Ormsby, 45 minutes or an hour northwest of Queensborough, in the heart of North Hastings County. I’ve written about all that here, so I won’t go over it again except to say that you must go visit the Old Hastings Mercantile and the Old Omsby Schoolhouse Tearoom (and “Educated Dining”) sometime soon.

What Ernie was writing about was narcissus. Actually, narcissus and closely related daffodils. In North Hastings. Read on (I don’t think Ernie will mind):

“In the early 1960s my neighbour at The Ridge [Katherine here: The Ridge is a small farming community near Coe Hill], Bob McGeachie (who passed away about 13 years ago), planted hundreds of daffodils and narcissus bulbs in a little roadside field across from our house. The narcissus are the last to bloom every May and there are hundreds of blooms on right now. The daffodils, about forty varieties, bloom through April and May every spring and are visited by many people each year. I cut back the sumac every year to allow the hundreds (thousands?) of bright, cheerful blooms to peek through the wild grass. I am sending a photo of a collection of the daffodils that I picked this year. There are some great colours including pink daffodils. We hand out little bouquets to all the moms at the Tea  Room on Mother’s Day.”

Isn’t that fantastic? A field of narcissus and daffodils, of all colours, blooming their heads off way up there in North Hastings County for all to see and admire, and all thanks to a good guy who just went and planted them.

I love that story.

Ernie sent along a lovely photo of some of this year’s crop of daffodils and narcissus in a makeshift vase that was in reality an old (like, really old), pretty china ewer (pitcher), which had been placed inside a matching wide, shallow china bowl that was doubtless the washbasin for a 19th-century family; the ewer was the source of the water poured into the washbasin. Unfortunately the format the photo came in means I can’t reproduce it here, but let me tell you this: it gave me an idea! Happy update: Today Ernie’s brother Gary sent me the photo in a different format, and here it is:

Daffodils picked for a frield at The Ridge, near Coe Hill. Don't they look beautiful in that vintage pitcher? (Photo courtesy of Ernie Pattison)

Daffodils picked from a field at The Ridge, near Coe Hill in North Hastings County. Don’t they look beautiful in that vintage pitcher? (Photo courtesy of Ernie Pattison)

As it happens, on the Victoria Day weekend Raymond and I – okay, I – purchased a really pretty old china basin/ewer/etc. set at half price from an antiques/collectibles store in Madoc that we like a lot (and that I’ve mentioned here before), Kim’s Kollectibles. (I had admired and been tempted by the set at full price a few months before, so when it was on sale at half price, how could I resist?)

And that set is the photo atop this post – which, admittedly, would be much nicer if there were narcissus and daffodil stems in the ewer. But I will leave it to your imagination, and I will feel happy that thanks to our new and not-yet-met-in-person friend Ernie Pattison we have an excellent idea for using that set.

Not to mention a great reason to head north of Queensborough – next spring and every spring after that – and go look at some stark yet beautiful countryside, where daffodils and narcissus bloom. Thanks to the late and thoughtful Bob McGeachie.

Should we have snapped this up?

One thing we didn't buy at Kim's Kollectibles in Madoc, though I was sorely tempted. Do you recognize it? It's a telephone table, and when I was growing up in Queensborough many households had them. Phone (rotary-dial) on little table; attached chair, just for you when you're having your phone conversations; and a lamp so you can see to write down the jellied-salad recipe your fellow housewife is giving you over the phone!

I was sorely tempted to buy this last weekend, but in the end didn’t. Do you recognize it? It’s a telephone table, and when I was growing up in Queensborough many households had them. Phone (rotary-dial) on little table; attached chair, just for you when you’re having your phone conversations; and a lamp so you can see to write down the jellied-salad recipe your fellow housewife is giving you over the phone!

Yesterday I wrote about the wonderful day Raymond and I had this past Saturday, poking around the Queensborough/Madoc/Tweed area under brilliant warm sunshine. One fun part of the day was visiting the little antiques-and-collectibles emporium called Kim’s Kollectibles, on St. Lawrence St. W. in downtown Madoc; owner Kim Deline was having a sale, and we found some good stuff at a good price.

But there was one thing we didn’t buy – and I am wondering if I will be kicking myself for passing it up. It’s the telephone table you see at the top of this post, and if that doesn’t take you back, then you never lived in the Queensborough/Madoc/Tweed area (and many other parts of North America, I am sure) in the mid-1960s. I swear pretty much every household had one of these convenient all-in-one units.

The nostalgia! The design! The patterned vinyl seat covering! And all for only $20 – what a bargain!

What stopped me? Well, nostalgia is all well and good; but I couldn’t quite imagine actually placing that throwback piece of furniture in the Manse. Let alone using it.

A perfect day.

This photo gives you a sense of what a glorious day it was in Queensborough and environs yesterday, but I took it for another reason: these are among the row of maple trees that my father used to tap to make maple syrup way back in the day. We kids helped with the gathering of the sap each evening, and it is a very happy childhood memory. More on that in a future post, but you will understand how driving past these old maples on Queensborough Road west of the village was a great start to a perfect day.

This photo gives you a sense of what a glorious day it was in Queensborough and environs yesterday, but I took it for another reason: these are among the row of maple trees that my father used to tap to make maple syrup way back in the day (the mid-to-late-1960s and early 1970s). My siblings and I (and many other kids from the neighbourhood) used to help gather the sap each evening, and it is a very happy childhood memory. More on that in a future post, but you will understand how driving past these old maples on Queensborough Road west of the village was a great start to a perfect day.

Raymond and I spent a grand total of 36 hours at the Manse in Queensborough this weekend, from our arrival a little after 10 p.m. Friday night to our departure a little after 11 a.m. (which is really 10 a.m., but 11 given the !#@*& imposition of Daylight Saving Time – better not get me started on that – this morning). You might think that such a visit is so brief as not to warrant just under 9 hours of driving there and back again, from and to Montreal. But you would be wrong. Because our one full day there – yesterday, Saturday – was: a perfect day. (And Friday night and Sunday morning were very nice too.)

What constitutes a perfect day for us in Queensborough and environs?

Well, it begins with glorious weather. The forecast the night before had been for a cloudy day Saturday, but we awoke to brilliant sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, and pleasantly warm temperatures (which proceeded to get even more pleasant as the day went on; we spotted guys doing roofing work in T-shirts, and people sitting outdoors enjoying the sun).

After coffee at the Manse, it was on to our errands. In order:

Things were going full-speed at O'Hara Sugar Maples Saturday morning; the warm sunshine was making the sap run like crazy. Note the smoke from the wood-fuelled fire boiling down the sap to make delicious maple syrup.

Things were going full speed at O’Hara Sugar Maples on Hart’s Road Saturday morning; the warm sunshine was making the sap run like crazy. Note the smoke from the wood-fuelled fire boiling down the sap to make delicious maple syrup.

Try to find some new-crop maple syrup. We’d read in the local papers the night before about an event held in late February, bringing together local syrup producers and local politicians and whatnot to officially launch the 2013 season, so we thought some new product might be found. We stopped in at O’Hara Sugar Maples on Hart’s Road, and were enormously fortunate to be able to buy a litre of the first batch – two bottles of which had just been set aside for entry in “The Royal” (that’s the prestigious Royal Winter Fair in Toronto). We were offered a small sample, and it was as light and delicious as any maple syrup you’ve ever tasted. And the syrup inside the bottle we bought was still warm! It doesn’t get any fresher or better than that.

Here’s a little video showing how crazily fast (in the warm sun) the sap was pouring in from the pipelines connected to the tapped trees to the sugar house, where it would be boiled down to make syrup:

Next, do the rounds of Madoc:

  • First stop, Hidden Goldmine Bakery, to try to buy one box each of their awesome cookie selection. (Successful on the cinnamon-sparkle, peanut-butter, and chocolate-chip front; Raymond’s new favourite, cranberry-oatmeal, was sold out, but clearly we had no shortage of cookies when we emerged.)
  • Next: Kelly’s Flowers & Gifts, a delightful shop that doubles as the Sears catalogue outlet – and we needed a Sears catalogue because we need old-fashioned spring-roll window blinds for the Manse, and Sears seems to be the place to get them. And a bonus! It turns out the proprietor, Kelly Declair, was a classmate of mine at Madoc’s Centre Hastings Secondary School back when we both were teenagers (I have got to dig out my old CHSS yearbooks) and now lives in – Queensborough! So Kelly and I compared notes on several things, including how much we love Queensborough.
Our new Mission-style table, purchased at Kim's Kollectibles in Madoc Saturday, in the afternoon sunlight between our two leather-and-wood rocking chairs in the Manse dining room.

In the afternoon sunlight, our new Mission-style table, purchased (on sale!) at Kim’s Kollectibles in Madoc Saturday, between the leather-and-wood rocking chairs in the Manse’s dining room.

  • Then: Kim’s Kollectibles, a fun antiques-and-collectibles place that was having an end-of-winter sale to make space for the new stuff sure to come in once auction season starts, which will be soon. (Antiques-and-collectibles sellers get a lot of their stuff at auction sales. I’ve written here and here – among other places – about how much Raymond and I enjoy going to the auctions in Hastings County.) We bought a nice Mission-style side table for the space between out two vintage leather rockers in the Manse dining room, along with a bunch of books (right; there‘s a surprise), a Bunnykins china cup and bowl (I am a sucker for Bunnykins, since I had some when I was a wee girl and well remember how easy it was to be coerced into eating my supper thanks to my eagerness to find out what the Bunnykin Family was doing in the picture at the bottom of the plate or bowl), and a few other things that you may hear about anon.
  • Last stop in Madoc: the car wash, so Raymond could rinse the mud off the car. And while he was doing that, I opened up my new Sears catalogue and was transported back through the years by the smell of the ink on a newly-opened mail-order catalogue. Try it and see!
The little footbridge leading you to Kelly's Restaurant, a cool little place that's been serving good food (in a pretty setting off Highway 37) for four decades.

The footbridge leading you to Kelly’s Restaurant, a cool little place that’s been serving good food (in a pretty setting off Highway 37) for four decades.

The rustic and cozy interior of Kelly's is filled wirh vinatge advertising signs and whatnot. Yoo have to love the Supertest memorabilia; remember Supertest?

The rustic and cozy interior of Kelly’s is filled with vinatge advertising signs and whatnot. Yoo have to love the Supertest memorabilia; remember Supertest?

Then it was on to Tweed. We’d collected enough recyclables in the past few Manse visits that we had to make a run to the municipal dump at nearby Stoco. But before that we stopped for lunch at the funky and delightful Kelly’s Restaurant on Highway 37 between Tweed and Actinolite. Kelly’s has been around since the early 1970s, and has a cool kind of patina about it. You walk across a little footbridge to get to the slightly hippie-looking frame restaurant located in a pastoral setting. Inside, the walls are covered with vintage signs and photographs. The welcome is friendly, the ambience is great, there are lots of fellow diners, and the food is excellent: I had one of the best Caesar salads of my life (restaurants so often mess up Caesar salad – for one thing, using the unpleasant bitter dark-green outer leaves of the romaine lettuce instead of the hearts, which is the proper way – but Kelly’s gets it right) and Raymond had a splendid burger.

Late Saturday afternoon at the Manse, looking out the window at the back yard: more evidence of visits by the local wildlife.

Late Saturday afternoon at the Manse, looking out the window at the back yard: more evidence of visits by the local wildlife.

We had a few errands to run in Tweed: food shopping, etc., nothing too exciting but perfectly pleasant. Then on to the dump, and then back home – all still under glorious sunshine and amid temperatures that reached 9C. We unloaded the car, installed our nice new (to us) little table, and had a long(ish) refreshing nap. That evening, we enjoyed lamb curry that we’d bought at The Old Cheese Factory in Tweed, a good bottle of wine, and a long session of reading in our rocking chairs. And then bedtime, in a place where one sleeps very soundly because the pretty little village around us is so quiet.

Is that not the perfect day? In Queensborough or, maybe, anywhere else?