I recently had the chance to attend the provincial Agricultural Service Board tour hosted by the Municipal District of Bonnyville. Roy was there as a delegate; I, as a partner.
I could ill afford to leave my work for the two and a half days of programming, but decided work be damned; I needed the mental and physical break from my desk.
Never in my life have I packed the morning of departure, but in this case it worked. I always feel a tingle of anticipation and adventure when Roy and I embark on a road trip, and this was no exception?even though Bonnyville is only an hour and a half away.
There is something both relaxing and exciting about hitting the open road. It’s a world apart from the harried trips with a mile-long to-do list and a finite time to accomplish it all. There was time to stop along the way and put up Festival posters and to check out an old-fashioned two-storey general store that carries everything from produce to men’s work boots.
For me there were several highlights of the companion program. Making a spring wreath at the Hamilton House B&B took me back to my days in the flower shop business. Organizers who only allowed an hour for shopping in Cold Lake should have been strung up. I spent the entire time at a consignment store, Ritzy Rags, and came home with a unique reversible jacket. Now I just need an appropriately snazzy place to wear it!
A trip to CFB Cold Lake’s 4 Wing greenhouses was a hot and humid time. Tuesday was rounded out by an outdoor concert featuring George Canyon (a.k.a. Fred Lane), the Municipal District of Bonnyville’s first by-law enforcement officer before he became rich and famous. He’s a funny, talented, down-to-earth performer.
Wednesday’s itinerary included a stop at Rocky Meadows. Who doesn’t love pie and ice cream at 9:30 in the morning? Their mini-golf course holes include a seed drill, a combine, a grain auger, a collection of rubber boots, and more. Sea buckthorn jelly is my reminder of the stop.
I loved, loved, loved the next two stops: Ilchuk Gardens and the Ozero gardens. The places are just a mile or two apart, yet are distinctly different slices of paradise. The first is often a destination spot for weddings and wedding photo shoots. Three Model As become props; amazing hybrid peonies had the crowd agog. The Ozero garden is bright and beautiful and was featured in Gardens West magazine. I asked the owner if the furniture in the screened-in gazebo had ever been sat on. I couldn’t imagine there was ever time. Hydrangeas with melon-sized blossoms and potted tropicals were just some of the showstoppers.
A wine tasting lesson and tour of the nursery that provides hundreds of thousands of seedlings for reforestation and reclamation rounded out the afternoon. A banquet and entertainment by pianist extraordinaire Martin Janovsky brought the event to a close. Am I glad I played hooky? No brainer, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.