Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter in Prince Edward County

I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of Ontario where tourists flock in the thousands come summer.  This is rather like a 'good news, bad news' joke.  The good news is that they fuel our economy.  The bad news is...well, there are rather a lot of them and those of us who live here have learned to avoid the masses. We know that the beaches will be crowded. We know the back routes to avoid Picton Main Street at noon in summer.  We know that the two proudly Canadian stop lights (one at Tim Horton's and the other at the liquor store) will contribute to traffic congestion rather than easing it. We know that the Wellington LCBO sells beer by the 24, and that the Foodland there will be faster and just as friendly as the Picton Sobey's.

And then they leave.

And we are left with the beauty to savour; poorer in pocket as winter settles, but richer in spirit as we explore our County quietly, in silence, at one with nature.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I recently had dinner with a group of Prince Edward County women. There were ten of us in total including a visual artist, a wine maker, a teacher, a fibre artist, a restaurant entrepreneur, a writer and a photographer.  We ranged in age from mid-thirties to mid-sixties; married, single and divorced; of varied economic status.

Everyone knew at least two others at the table, but no one knew everyone. So there was generalized chatting in a 'getting to know you' way as we sorted each other out. What emerged was that of the ten of us, only one is a County native: the rest, like me, are imports who made a conscious and considered choice to move to Prince Edward County in adulthood.  While that statistic would probably be abnormal in Kingston or Ottawa, here it is not too surprising, as the County has an exponentially-growing population of disaffected denizens of 'The City' (County-speak for Toronto) and other more urban places.

What was more interesting though, was that eight of us were actually four pairs: an explorer and a follower. Just as I followed my friend Sabina McLuhan to the County, so too did three other women in this group follow their close friends to a new life here.

It seems that this is a place where people lead by example...literally leading their friends and family to embrace the beauty, vibrance, and rural renaissance of Prince Edward County. And once here, we have a canvas on which to draw an antique shop in my case, or a restaurant, a winery, an art studio, or whatever our head and heart desire.

Which makes me think...it's my turn. Will my life here influence friends and family members to make Prince Edward County their home? Will I too have followers? All interested please apply.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose!

One of the reasons I love vintage treasures is that in so many cases they beg to be repurposed. I so often find myself asking not, "What is this?" but rather, "What could this be?"

For example, I couldn't bear to part with these crystal glasses.  Although each has a tiny chip, rendering it unsafe for drinking, each is still beautiful.  By grouping them on a tray and inserting tea lights, I created a lovely centrepiece.  I change the oddments on the tray with each season or holiday.

Another example is the Hoosier cupboard that I had for sale recently at Dead People's Stuff. For six months I told potential customers who looked at it not to think kitchen, but to think craft room, computer desk (demonstrating the pull-out enamel table top), games cupboard, laundry room storage, etc.  I finally realized that it was the perfect piece for our stereo system, CDs, DVDs and games, and moved it into my own family room!

Similarly, the old dresser mirror below had seen better days: its glazing was shabby and its joints decrepit.  Not worth fixing, but charming nonetheless.  So I thought I'd give it one more life by spraying it a funky lime green and hanging it on my front yard fence.  There it has resided for two years, reflecting pretty foliage in the summer and twinkling Christmas lights over the holidays.

And as you can see in the foreground above, no dilapidated wicker chair here goes to the dump without spending a season on the lawn or in the garden as a plant stand!