Hamilton is home to waterfalls and gorgeous trails. Check out the various trails the city has to offer from more serious hikes to casual and leisurely strolls. Many of the trails can be accessed for free or with just the fee of on-site parking.
By Emily-Jane Hills Orford
Cluck. Cluck. Bok. Bok.
“Those blasted chickens are so noisy,” Mother grumbled. She sniffed and tried to position her nose so that it caught the breeze that blew through the open car windows. She scrunched her face in disgust. “They smell, too. Why do we have to cart them to the lodge every summer and then back again in the fall?”
“They make a good source for fresh eggs,” Father replied as he carefully maneuvered the old Ford up the slight incline in the road.
The family-run summer lodge, Oroby Lodge, near the town and train station of Oro on Lake Simcoe, required all family members to participate and help out. Even the chickens. So every spring, Father would cut holes into large corrugated boxes, place the chickens carefully inside the boxes and seal them tight for transport. The holes allowed the chickens to peck their beaks outside, so they wouldn’t suffocate. However, there were only air-holes on the outer side of each box, as one side would be firmly fastened against the side of the car and one or both ends would be in close contact with another box. This resulted in considerable commentary amongst the chickens who squawked as they pushed their way to ensure a position by one of the openings. It was always a noisy ride with the chickens in boxes on the running boards.
These boxes, as well as specific pieces of luggage, all deliberately a specific size and shape, fit on the running boards of the car, which Father would fasten into place once the family was loaded and ready to go, Mother in the front seat, Norman nestled in between his sisters, Dorothea and Isabel, in the back. Task completed, Father always climbed in through the window to take up his position at the steering wheel, another embarrassment for poor Mother. She was every inch the fine lady and expected those around her, the family especially, to be nothing but on their best and most dignified behavior at all times.
Mother always sat up straight, glued her eyes to the road ahead, and pretended to ignore the racket and the smell from the chickens just outside her door. It was a long drive from Toronto to Oro, and the road was mostly a two-lane, windy road with little or no shoulder. Father maintained a steady speed for the entire trip and was always annoyed with those who preferred speed to safety.
One particular trip home from the lodge, after closing it up for the season, brought considerable amusement for young Norman and more embarrassment for poor Mother. Norman was careful to hide his amusement. As Father was cresting a hill, some hotshot from the opposite direction who had taken the risk of passing while going uphill (something not legally astute nowadays), came barreling over the hill, charging towards the oncoming traffic. Father refused to budge. The perpetrator refused to budge and refused to move back into his lane. It was a dangerous game of road chicken, Father maintaining command of his side of the road until the very last minute, when, in order to avoid the inevitable head-on collision, both vehicles veered off the side of the road. Both cars toppled precariously to the side, hood facing downwards. The chickens squawked with more fervor to announce their displeasure, and, as Father climbed out through the window to yell at the offending driver, Mother’s face remained as placid as ever, anger barely hidden behind her stoic posture as she stared, still, straight ahead.
“What do you think you are trying to do?” Father called out to the offending driver, who was able to disembark his vehicle with a little more style than Father. “You could have killed us all!”
“You would not yield,” the offending driver yelled back as he straightened his tall figure so that he could stand a good four inches taller than Father.
“You were in the wrong!” Father argued, pointing his finger accusingly in the air before him. “You should never try to pass a car while driving uphill. You cannot see the oncoming traffic from over the hill.”
The man just shrugged and proceeded to survey his car for damage. Finding none, he climbed back into the car and drummed the engine to drag it out of the ditch. He merrily waved to Father and toot-tooted his horn as he drove off, now downhill, but still in the lane of oncoming traffic.
Father shook his head in disgust as he did a walk around the car, checking the straps that held the chicken boxes and luggage in place. Satisfied that all was well, he climbed back through the window on the driver’s side, started the engine and slowly pulled off the side of the road.
While all this was going on, even Norman and his two sisters in the back seat were struggling to maintain their composure and to pretend that they didn’t know Father, the man who climbed in and out of the car through the window because his door was blocked by chicken boxes. They had no choice but to remain in the car, as their doors were also blocked. The remainder of the trip was long and silent as Father and Mother both fumed for their own reasons and the young people in the back decided that silence was the best course of action given the circumstances.
Cluck. Cluck. Bok. Bok.
Emily-Jane Hills Orford has published several books, creative nonfiction stories mostly about her family. Growing up in Toronto, then Hamilton and finally London, Emily-Jane has lots of family stories to warm the heart. For more information about the author, check out her webpage at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca