Falling for Fall in Bancroft

Photo by Gail Burstyn, Lylis Designs

Photo by Gail Burstyn, Lylis Designs

By Guest Blogger Michelle Annette Tremblay

It’s really not surprising that each year more and more people come from far and wide to enjoy summer in Bancroft. It’s the perfect place to beat the heat – the lakes are cool, the air is clean, and there’s oodles to do – but my favourite season in Bancroft is the fall, and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, of course, the colours. Oh. My. God. The. Colours. Every drive I take, whether to the office, or the grocery store, feels like I’m in a film. Not just any film. A film with a genius cinematographer. The back roads, especially, are a revelation. Beneath a symphony of red, orange and gold, dirt roads wind and weave, illuminated by dapples of sunshine dribbling through the foliage like honey; a few well choreographed leaves lazily pirouette as they fall; and then, when you think it can’t get any more beautiful, there’s a clearing, with a view of rolling hills on fire with colour. It’s breathtaking. People that have lived here for decades can’t drive home without stopping to pull over and pull out their smartphones to take a photo, because even after all this time, they still can’t quite believe their eyes when the fall colours are at their peak.

But fall in Bancroft is about more than the colours. Now that summer is over, the pace slows down. Yes, while tourists come to our area to escape the hustle bustle of the cities, to us locals, summer is wonderful but a bit stressful. Everyone I speak to throughout the summer months mentions how busy they are. Don’t get me wrong, they’re happy to be busy. But at the end of a full summer, we’re all a bit relived to let our hair down, take a deep breath, catch up on our to do lists, and finally, to enjoy this incredible season. Things have slowed down, the black flies and mosquitos are long gone, the weather though a bit chillier is still lovely, apples are ripe for picking, and there’s still plenty to do. So much to do in fact that I have a hard time remembering the last time I spent a quiet evening at home.

As I write this, the annual studio tour has just passed. We spent a weekend exploring scenic routes throughout North Hastings. The drive alone would be worth writing about, but each stop promised ‘ooh’s and ahh’s, not just inspired by the incredible art created by citizens of Ontario’s Most Talented Town, but also by the studios themselves. What a gift to be able to lift the veil and meet artists in their private spaces. At Ketha Newman‘s studio, I lingered long, taking in her view of the Madawaska Valley stretching out as far as I could see (not a neighbour in sight), listening to the wind, watching a lone bird glide on it effortlessly, and quietly wishing I could step into her existence for a day. If there was ever a place to be an artist this is it.

Now that the studio tour has passed though, there’s still plenty to do. This weekend the Bancroft and District Chamber of Commerce is hosting a tour of ‘elk country,’ that provides an opportunity to learn about the growing elk population in North Hastings, and over the next few weeks there are various fall hikes, marathons and tours of the great outdoors. There are also several community events, including the popular open-mic Anything Goes Cafe at the Arlington in Maynooth, Thanksgiving and Octoberfest dinners, the annual Village Playhouse gala (featuring the Sultans of String), movies at the Playhouse, and more.

When the leaves are at their peak, deep down we know, though we may be in denial, that our days of running about in Birkenstocks and evenings spent listening to the crickets are numbered. It won’t be that long before winter descends. And so, even though we’ve only just caught our breath after the hurried cha-cha of summer, we fill up our rusty-coloured afternoons with hikes and explorations, we overfill our nights with music and friends. We delight in what William Cullen Bryant called “the year’s last, loveliest smile.” I’ve fallen head over heels for Fall in Bancroft. Have you?