I set out early the other morning with a plan. This meant up and out the door by 6:15am, bundled up for the cold. I gave up trying to drive the vehicles available to me last winter due to a cast on my left wrist. (It extended up to the crook of my elbow, my fingers just would not cooperate, and I am left handed!) Although unencumbered this year I am still reluctant to drive when the weather is nasty. Therefore I head to town when someone else needs to go.
A crisp, pre-dawn walk from the parking lot took me along a street with beautiful, large, old homes. A few of them have been turned into B&Bs; draperies were pulled open to display twinkling Christmas tree lights. The snow crunched below my feet, all was still quiet, a peaceful walk before the hustle and bustle of shoppers on Princess Avenue, the main shopping street.
My first stop had to be breakfast, and more coffee. Rather than seek a new place that might not even be open that early, I headed for Crave – fast becoming a favourite. I was their customer. Thank goodness the cinnamon buns would not be ready for another hour – I am attempting to avoid such decandence! I established myself in a seat by the fireplace, Americano, breakfast, book and iPad all at hand. I managed to just enjoy the vibe – students must all be in bed now exams are done – of pre-coffee break, early shoppers, staff banter and regulars.
My next stop, on the way, was through an alleyway, between Princess St. and Wellington Ave. with a rather gory history. According to my daughter, who conducted Haunted Walking Tours, this has a few ghost stories. The one I looked up is that the alley is haunted by a woman named Theresa Ignace Beam.
“She is supposed to have been murdered back in 1868 and her bones are supposed to be buried in the basement of an adjacent store,” Anderson says. “But we don’t actually know if her bones are there because nobody has found them yet, so it remains a bit of a mystery.” (Kingston Heritage Au 13/15) I must ask my daughter to give me a personal tour of Kingston!
Across from City Hall I cam across a Nativity scene with a Martello Tower, built 1846 as a defence against a marine attack, (Lake Ontario) in the background and the Confederation Arch, (1967) built to symbolize Canada as one nation, hovering above. Too good an opportunity to pass up, especially when the ferry heading to Wolfe Island was also in view. Of course I could not overlook the mixed message of war and peace.
Then off to do some church visits. I like the architecture, inside and out, the trappings (or lack of) and any decorations for the holiday that may have been added. I have never belonged to any Christian denomination so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. This was purely, I thought, a chance to see churches at their best during the most important celebration for their existence.
The first church I encountered seemed promising, there was the laughter of children ringing out in the air, dressed up in colourful snowsuits they certainly appeared happy in the snow. I did wonder if their classroom was regelated to a dark, nasty basement space. (Is my prejudice for such spaces seeping out?) as I continued on to find an open door I also searched for which church this was. All I found was a sign with the name of the Early Childhood Centre. I thought how delightful, they appeared to have the whole space! Unfortunately, I could not go inside. I would have loved to see if they were using the, I assume, now pew less nave that once invited parishioners to sit. The refraction of sun on stain glass windows must be wonderful opportunities for exploring the wonders of colour, discussions of science, allowing imagination to soar. I think this is a great way to use a deconsecrated church.
Onward, to three more churches. Seems none of them believe in inviting people to come in out of the cold. They were all closed! Locked up tight. How disappointing. I finally came across the Sydenham Street United Church, build 1851-1852 that, upon first approach also seemed locked. However, walking around it I found a side door that led into offices, then, lo and behold! – a short corridor with a partially open door into the nave. Very simply decorated for the season, a tree and very simple, iron candlabras. Not at all austere, perhaps that had something g to do with the seating design.
My last stop was a Catholic Church I visited a year ago but after the holiday. Only the doors had any adornment – pine branches tied with purple ribbon. Perhaps any other de oration would have appeared garish with the stain glass windows, icons and paintings. Not knowing the protocol I did not venture too far inside for fear of disturbing those who appeared to know what they were doing.
If nothing else I managed to get in a good walk that day!
Lots of fluffy snow the next day gave me ample opportunity to play in the snow. I built a snow bunny. My travelling companions, the pandas, refused to come out to play.