By Bruce Stambaugh
When a friend learned that I was traveling across the border to the Niagara Falls region in Canada, she lightheartedly instructed me not to create any international incidents. She need not have worried.
My wife and I traversed a bridge over the churning Niagara River for peaceful purposes only. We had scheduled a reunion with some Ontario friends. The historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake served as the point of rendezvous.
As it turned out, it was the ideal spot for our gathering, especially given the historical implications of the town and our connections with our acquaintances. We had known one couple, Ken and Ruth, for years. The other friends, neighbors to Ken and Ruth, we had met only last winter in Fernandina Beach, Florida of all places.
Ken and Ruth’s neighbors just happened to winter on Amelia Island, Florida. Knowing that we spent part of the winter there as well, Ruth suggested we meet up with Don and Gail. What a blessed suggestion it was, too.
Neva and I immediately hit it off with them. Just like we did with Ken and Ruth, we shared common interests, and enjoyed each other’s company and conversation.
After touring the historic Niagara town and enjoying a lovely lunch, we sat on two benches, men on one, women on the other, just like three old couples would in a park. That’s probably because we were three old couples, and we were in a park.
Old, of course, is a relative term. We were all grandparents, but to hear us cackling on that glorious day, we more likely resembled teenagers. Life has those golden moments you know. When it does, you want to harvest their nurturing bounty.
Sitting under those giant shade trees, we laughed, inquired, listened, observed, and pondered what life had brought us, and would bring us still. It’s what good friends do no matter what nationality.
The setting, Queen’s Royal Park, seemed more than appropriate. Located along the town’s waterfront where the mouth of the Niagara River opened into Lake Ontario, sailboats, fishing boats and speedboats glided by.
On the opposite shore stood historic Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York. This particular location had been the scene of many battles since the 18th century. We had a clear view of the impressive fort, and heard muskets fired during a battle reenactment.
Multi-nationalities had claimed these lands and waterways over the centuries. Native Americans, French, English, and Americans had all fought for this once strategic military position.
Though our little group represented several countries, our meeting was more than congenial. Among the six of us, one was born in England, one Bermuda, two in Ontario, and my wife and I in Ohio.
Our weapon of choice was sarcasm. I blamed the cool, wet summer weather on imaginary Ontario icebergs. My friends returned volleys of witticisms of their own. No injuries resulted from the friendly bantering.
During any visit to the Niagara Falls region, the global attraction to this magnetic place is obvious. We encountered cultural dress, various native languages, and many ethnicities wherever we went.
When we asked a stranger with a Caribbean accent to take photographs of our group, he gladly obliged. I wasn’t surprised. He and his companions were enjoying the same fair weather, agreeable setting and pleasing vistas as us. It was the perfect recipe for an amicable afternoon reunion of international friends all around.
The only significant shots we fired were with our cameras.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.