Dunnville, Ontario

Famous for the spectacular Elora Gorge and its 80 foot limestone cliffs descending into the Grand and Irvine Rivers. Adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers regularly flock to Elora, Ontario to enjoy some fun and take in the natural beauty.

Many original stone buildings from the 1800′s still make up the downtown village centre. Over the decades, Elora has maintained its old world charm and the century-old buildings have been transformed into unique galleries, gift shops, artists studios and charming restaurants creating the perfect four-season shopping and dining destination.

Elora is a cultural haven with so much to offer. Rich in live music, visual arts, crafts, up-scale boutiques, natural beauty, architecture, culinary flavours, and diverse in culture; Elora provides an alternative lifestyle not typically found in small, rural communities in this day and age. Discover for yourself what makes Elora so unique and you will fall in love too!

Valentine Gift - Overboard or Just Right?
by Shelley Norman

ron wilkin jewellers fergus eloraAs if on cue, just as the timer on the stove dinged, my kitchen door flew open letting in a stream of cold wintry air that over rode the ginger infused heat emanating from the now open oven door. I turned with the sheet of hot cookies still in my oven mitt donned hands to find my friend, Jackie, stomping snow off her boots in the doorway.
“Help!” she said as she shrugged out of her winter coat and tossed it on the nearest kitchen chair.
Setting the cookies onto the stove top I closed the oven and hurried over to her, ‘what’s the matter?”
“I can’t figure out what to get Doug for Valentine’s Day!” she said said running her hands through noticeably dishevelled hair. “I’ve been wracking my brain all day and I can’t come up with anything that gives the right message.”
“Oh is that all,” I said relaxing, knowing this wasn’t another case of burst water pipes, or Fluffy the cat stuck up the old oak tree.
“Is that all???? This is our first Valentines together. I want to show that I care, that I’m so glad he’s part of my life, but I don’t want to go overboard, if you know what I mean,” she said settling on a stool at my kitchen island. And yes, I knew exactly what she meant by ‘not go overboard’. Three years ago, she gave her then boyfriend a very expensive watch for Valentine’s Day, he took this to mean commitment and ended the relationship. Two years before that she’d arranged a romantic get-a-way at a bed & breakfast in ‘wine country’ not realizing it was for engaged couples and her then boyfriend panicked when he saw the sign at the reception desk and all of a sudden had a very last minute business meeting he had to get to and she never heard from him again. And that’s just to name a couple instances of ‘overboard’.

I placed a cup of herbal tea in front of her and got back to my project of the evening; heart shaped gingerbread cookies for my son’s Valentine’s party at school the next day. “What about candy or chocolate?” I said smearing pink icing across a cookie. “Or a heart shaped take-out pizza. You know what they say ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’.”
“Can you seriously picture Doug and one of those frilly heart shaped boxes of candy?” she said over the rim of her cup of tea. “And he said he’s taking me out for dinner so pizza is out.”
I couldn’t help laughing at the thought of big Doug with a lacy box of chocolates, “men will eat almost anything but ok. What about flowers?”
“Seriously?” she rolled her eyes at me. “That’s worse than the candy.”
“Ummm...a stuffed animal, balloons, Valentine socks?” I thought aloud as I continued to decorate the cookies.
“He’s 37 not 4,” Jackie said reaching for a freshly iced cookie.
“Hey!” I said swatting at her hand.
“What? You owe me, those were terrible ideas,” she nibbled on the cookie, “but these are really good cookies.”
“Thanks,” I replied putting a replacement heart into the spot left vacant by the pilfered one.
“What did Phil give you last year,” she asked.
“We’ve been married 17 years,” I said hand on hip, “guess.”
“Oh, that’s right,” she said around another bite of cookie, “his undying love and a kiss on the forehead.”
“Correct, give the lady another cookie,” I handed her another heart. “And speak of the devil and look who walks in.”

“What?” my husband stopped halfway across the kitchen hands up. “What did I do? I just smelled cookies and hoped I might be able to taste test a couple.”
“Here, I saved the broken ones for you,” I pushed a plate across the countertop towards him. He picked one up and with a sad pitiful voice said, “you broke my heart!” before popping the whole thing in his mouth with a big smile. “Later ladies, the 2nd period is about to begin.”
“What did you give him last Valentine’s Day,” Jackie said getting back to the problem at hand.
“I agreed to let him stay home and watch the game instead of taking me out for dinner,” I said sprinkling coloured sugar over a cookie. “We ordered that heart shaped pizza I mentioned before, and I got some jelly filled, heart shaped donuts with pink glaze from the bakery for dessert.”
“That’s it!” Jackie hopped off her stool.

“But you said pizza wouldn’t work because you’re going out?” I asked eyebrows raised.
“Donuts! Why didn’t I think of that! Doug loves donuts with his morning coffee. I’ll just swing by the bakery in the morning, grab some of those romantic ones and drop them off at his office on my way to work,” Jackie grabbed her coat off the chair where she’d tossed it. “It’s thoughtful, but not over the top, and something he’ll enjoy without being totally uncomfortable. It’s perfect!” She zipped around the island smushing me into a big bear hug, before disappearing out the door from which she’d came.
Placing the last iced cookie onto the tray, I gave myself a mental pat on the back then picked up the remaining broken hearts to see if there was time to go catch the last period of the game with my Valentine!

Shelley Norman is a child care provider, freelance writer and farmer. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, journals and anthologies throughout Canada and the U.S. She has one published children’s book, ‘Bruce County Counts‘. Visit her webpage at www.facebook.com/ShelleyNorman.Writer