Friday, July 12, 2013

waterfalls, herons, and Nanaimo bars

This week both kids are at day camp, so on Wednesday Richard and I made a little half-day trip to Napanee.  We parked at Springside Park and walked along the river to the Coffee Cravings café downtown.

The waterfall at Springside Park is small by some standards -- but waterfalls, no matter their size, are certainly awesome phenomena.  At the top of the falls, the water hardly seemed to be moving; if you didn't hear the roar, you might  never know there were falls just a few steps further down the path.  The water was dark grayish-brown where it poured smoothly over the edge of each layer of rock, then foamy and yellowish below.  It made me think of a plateful of Nanaimo bars with smooth dark tops and soft, creamy yellow middles.  At the bottom of the falls the water funneled into a V shape, and on either side of the V was a huge pad of foam covered with blobs, as if a giant can of whipping cream had been deployed by an enthusiastic cake decorator.

We saw a heron standing on a rock in mid-stream and stopped to observe it.  Watching a heron can be a bit like watching paint dry:  there's not much action.  But it was fascinating to see this bird with its spindly-looking legs, standing firmly and immovably in rushing water that would likely have knocked a grown man off his feet.  Probably it was looking for fish; if the right moment had come, we might have seen it dive swiftly to snatch its prey.  But the whole time we watched, it remained motionless.  An hour later when we came back from our coffee outing, it had moved to a lower rock but was still standing statue-like in the water.

I commented to Richard, "I think there are some life lessons there."  Later I thought more about what those might be:

  • Achieving your goals can take a great deal of both patience and solitude.

  • Staying focused in the midst of chaos is difficult but essential.

  • Sometimes those who look weakest (with the most spindly legs) are actually the strongest and most steadfast.

  • From the outside of a situation, it may look like nothing is happening, but in fact there may be a great deal of attention and watchfulness and purpose, all being harnessed for the right moment to step out and act.

  • "They also serve who only stand and wait."  (from John Milton's "On His Blindness")

  • The definition of a person with a sweet tooth is "someone who can see Nanaimo bars and whipped cream in a waterfall."


(Just for fun, I googled "Springside Park" and found this video on Youtube.  I presume this is a German tourist; I have no idea what he's saying, but if he's using bad words, I apologize in advance to anybody who speaks German and might be offended.  :-)

At 1:50 and 3:00 of the video you'll see the waterfall most clearly. At 3:00 you'll even see the aforementioned heron!

Well, okay, considering the video was made in 2008, it could just be its close friend or relative.  But I like to think it's the same bird we saw:  still standing, still waiting, still patient and steady.)


  1. This is a wonderfully encouraging word, Jeannie. Thank you! The picture of a tranquil and spindly legged heron with a rapidly flowing waterfall as its context says it all. I, for one, find myself "still standing, still waiting" fairly often, but I'm not sure I can claim to always stand "still patient and steady." Are we there yet?

    1. I know what you mean, Judy. Life doesn't seem to be all adventure, achievement, and progress -- there's so much "down time." I wish I could be more like that heron, too.

  2. Your heron-truths are excellent, Jeannie. And who doesn't appreciate a good candy bar analogy?


    1. Do you have Nanaimo bars in the States, Tim? I know they are a Canadian creation. (Another reason to love us Canadians, eh?)

    2. None here, sad to say!

  3. Yes, Candy bar analogies are tops! Love how you think, Jeannie!


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