Sunday, June 08, 2008
It is early Sunday morning, looking out across the east fork of the Niagara River from the second story patio of a beautiful house on the riverfront in Grand Island, New York. Here, in fact:
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Showered, with a fresh cup of strong coffee, watching the clouds roll in and the geese fly by, as I listen to Jeff Beck’s classic “Blow by Blow” and write. No one else is up yet, either in the house or in the neighborhood, except for the birds. I take that back...I do now see a couple of small boats in the far distance. The sun has just established itself, peering through the striated overcast cloud cover.
We arrived here on Friday evening, driving in from Indiana, meeting up with my brother and his family who drove up from Charlottesville, VA. My mom and grandma rode with us.
This trip, planned for nearly a year, was supposed to be a celebratory getaway to Niagara Falls, honoring my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Their intention was to avoid the typical public hoopla and make it a more private event, a family vacation. My dad died in January, but my mom decided that it would still be a good thing to do, so here we are. And that demonstrates some of my mom’s great strengths, her vision for joy and beauty, her passion for her family, and a determination to embrace life no matter what comes.
Dad’s absence is as as palpable as his presence would be, but our sadness is tempered by our sure knowledge that he is even happier than we are. The only other person missing who would in most circumstances otherwise be here is my son, JP. We haven’t talked to him for a couple of weeks, but he is immersed in the Cavalier’s intense preseason camp. The drum corps, not the basketball team.
Yesterday we had a wonderful day on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. We went to the observatory deck of the Skylon Tower in the late morning, then had a great meal in the revolving restaurant. After that, all of us kids and grandkids rode the Maid of the Mist, which really exceeded all expectations. A water ride of the first order, wherein a big boat full of tourists in blue ponchos are ferried past the American Falls to the pool at the base of the magnificent Horseshoe Falls. The Maid then slowly turns and motors back, it’s passengers happily drenched and awed by a site of unparalleled natural beauty and astounding power.
It is almost impossible to describe the sights and sounds of this adventure. Go if you can, you will not regret it.
The neighborhood is now beginning to awaken. Not sure what we are doing today. Anything will be fine.
Here are a few more photos: