Friday, February 6, 2009

Take a Hike

Most of my favourite Kingston sights and sounds involve walking. No one could be more surprised than me, because I'm the lady who takes the car to go to the corner store. If I can do it, almost anyone can, so do come with me as I describe another wonderful experience- and try it for yourself if you get the opportunity. But if you're really opposed, you can always take the Tour Trolley!

As previously mentioned, I'm sold on Kingston's downtown district. Part of the allure of going downtown is actually the sights I see on my way there. I have mapped out three different routes, all about 20 minutes in length. Twenty minutes is a good little hike (for me, anyway), but there is so much to see that I'm at city centre before I know it. Since all the routes I take are the close to the core, I am walking through the oldest residential districts. So much of what I see reflects an historical record- one quite different from my home town. The residences put me in mind of pictures I have seen of "olde" England, Ireland and Scotland. Some of the streets are quite narrow, and the houses close together. As in most older neighbourhoods, the front yards are tiny- in fact there is so little room from front door to the street in some places, telephone poles are actually on the road. There is no room for a boulevard. Even a lot of the downtown Inns are like this.

Many houses are "row houses", 4 or more identical adjoined units. This is quite common in Britain- but seen here more often in newer neighbourhoods. I love the older versions. The owners sometimes opt to keep each unit identical to its neighbour- same coloured trim, same coloured roof, similar landscaping. Other owners seemingly compete with their neighbours- which unit boasts the brightest colour scheme, or the most eye-catching front garden. Many of the homes I see have landscaped the entire front "lawn" as a garden. No grass to cut, whatsoever, and what a pretty picture it makes. Again- it gives the feel of an old-style English country garden. How absolutely delightful! Another source of interest on these older houses is the prevalence of wooden trim- some extremely ornate and intricate. It is obvious that some owners love and value this special trim work. They often paint all the wood in bright, unusual colours- vibrant yellows, apple greens, bright fuscias and deep purples. The result, especially when combined with a full front flower garden can't help but draw the eye and lift the spirit. So much more fun than the neatly trimmed lawns and bushes so prevalent back home.

I have another subject to add to my list of what makes Kinston number one in my books. Almost every other home I pass, or person, for that matter has a dog, or at least a fat puss cat lolling on the sidewalk. This pleases me no end- I make a lot of four-legged friends on my journeys. I never see a dog-walker without a plastic clean-up bag- and I have never seen a pooch" deposit" that has been left for someone to step in. (this goes for the parks I visit as well). Now I KNOW no city has this problem licked- and I am sure I have just been lucky in my travels- but all-in-all, I think most Kingston dog owners do what is expected of them. I'm certainly impressed. Even the buskers on main street bring their pets to work. I met a gorgeous pooch who wears sun-glasses, and a cat who sits on "Mom's" lap while she plays the violin. Now the dog was a total "ham", obviously loving "playing to the crowd"- but the CAT??? Again- I was pretty impressed!

So much to see, so much to enjoy. Before I know it, I'm downtown. Even I am amazed that I not only walk in Kingston- I look forward to it. I guess two advertisements sum it up:
1. getting there is half the fun, and
2. sometimes you just have to do walk-about.

Either is high praise coming from me, and once more I encourage you to give it a try. The limestone churches, which I haven't even mentioned, are spectacular.

Linda (Smith)

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