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The Fragrance of Water

Can you imagine that light can be poured from a light bulb or that, when the tap is turned on, light flows
out like water? As I was reading Gabriel García Márquez’s essay, Light is Like Water, I started thinking
alternatively about water and pondered its qualities and attributes: fluidity, clarity, depth,
colorfulness…. Two ingenious siblings magically turned light into water in their sweltering Madrid
apartment. From there, they sailed from island to island, scuba-dived beneath the furniture and floated
in the “water” they created from the overflow of light. Light is like water, water is like light. There is so
much about the essence of water to consider that is more than the traditional and the obvious-like, the
fragrance of water.


Contemplating, I headed to Niagara-on-the Lake, Ontario, just a five hour road trip from home. Motown
tunes were playing on the car radio, the sun roof was open and the breeze was coming through. Tap
tap, tap tap tap, tap tap
…The age old thinking that water has no scent has gone by the wayside and I
determined to inhale the waters in this small Canadian town, nestled between Lake Ontario and the
Niagara River.


The experience of being around water, including the spirit arising from it, and the ability to take in the
pleasantries derived from water are the scent of water. And, there was a lot to absorb in Niagara-on-
the-Lake. Let’s start with the town itself. It’s quaint, intimate, and a little retro, with beloved bed and
breakfast spots, charming Canadian goods shops, ice cream parlors, fresh seafood, classic cars and an
easily navigable main promenade through town. The renowned Shaw Festival Theatre, known as one of
two premier repertory theatres in North America, draws annually audiences comprised of people from
around the world. From Brigadoon, Ladykillers, Rope, and The Russian Play, I chose Alfred Hitchcock’s
Rope, performed masterfully and expressively by the theatre’s incredibly talented and energetic cast.
Quiet exposure was derived from this peaceful lakeside hamlet. Experience is like water. Water is like
experience.


Vineyards and wineries hug the Niagara River and Route 55, Niagara Stone Road- Inniskillin, Peller
Estates, Jackson-Triggs, Trius, Wayne Gretzky Estates and more. If they can make it, bikers pedal from
one to another on the continuous route. Even more, the entire Niagara area is, in fact, Canada’s most
progressive wine territory, in which over ninety wineries are established. With water flowing from all
around Niagara-on-the-Lake, the perfectly fertile ground readily produces notable harvests for
established winemakers and encourages novices to create hobby and newly established estate wineries.
At some estates, formal wine tastings have given way to informal and relaxed approaches to introducing
and selling wines to Niagara customers while, at the same time, employing “time-honoured and labour-
intensive” production techniques. Icewine has become a sensation; craft beer and whisky add choice
alternatives; and sparkling rosé wine is now a rave. “Everyone loves rosé,” says Linda Ridgway, Retail
Manager at Trius, where Ontario’s largest sparkling wine cellar is maintained at the level of about half
million bottles. From Niagara-on the-Lake, also, comes Ontario’s top sommelier, Columbian immigrant
José Luis Fernández, who is well-situated within a closed society of sommeliers who are content to fully
appreciate and skillfully recommend and pour your wine. Ah, the heavenly bouquet emanating from
the water.

Onward, within walking distance, Lake Ontario thoroughly enticed with its breathtaking expansiveness
and luminosity, sparkling under the intensity of the afternoon sun. However, sadly, with its heavily
populated shores, this body of water is much more polluted than the other Great Lakes, being open to
the chemical run-off from businesses and farms and the pollution pouring in from the other four. Never
mind for the moment, the agreeable activities along the shore, like families relaxing together, picnicking,
boating, recreational fishing, and strolling along the beachside walking path make time here enviable.
For myself, a well-known reference point, “The Gazebo,” placed me perfectly for people watching,
feeling leisurely and taking in a sweet whiff.


The Niagara River is an extraordinary body of water. It sends its water directly or indirectly through
various passageways- rivers, streams, and other conduits- to flow into the reservoirs of each of the
Great Lakes barring one. Characterized by tumultuous rapids, a spinning whirlpool, splendid waterfalls,
and plenty of bona fide wonder, this river captivates. For adventure seekers, the Niagara River environs
excite with the Wild Play Whirlpool Adventure Course- 40 foot zip lines and “2,200 feet of OMG;” the
White Water Walk extending across Class 6 white water and providing the most spectacular outlooks
onto the fierce rapids; and, the Hornblower Cruises adeptly navigating the rebellious waters straight
past the American and Bridal Veil Falls and onto the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.


The astounding thing is the sheer power of the spirited Niagara River. Not only does it rush and roar, but
it forms one of the most significant natural marvels in the world- Niagara Falls, comprised of the
Canadian Horseshoe Falls (187 ft. drop), American Falls (90-120 ft. drop), and Bridal Veil Falls (American
side- 181 ft. drop). What’s more, the omnipotent Niagara sources hydroelectric power at a level that
makes it one of the most remarkable generators worldwide. The diversion of its water for
hydroelectricity, regulated by the Niagara Treaty of 1950 between the US and Canada, limits the flow to
approximately one-third of its natural capacity, still at a depth of about three feet and 3,160 tons every
second when tumbling over the edge. Surely, one must gasp at this aquatic power.


For the dynamic, 99 acres of nature preserve nuzzle the river and offer Carolinian Forest exploration
activities, hiking and cycling challenges, and awesome views of the Niagara. However, drawn to the
Niagara Park Botanical Gardens and its choice selection of more than 2,400 roses and complimentary
azaleas, rhododendron and herbs, I ambled through the garden paths designed by Canadian Sculptor
Gordon Reese and wound up at The Butterfly Conservatory. Instinctively, my enthusiasm was peaked to
witness over 2,000 vivid and multicolored butterflies emerging, feeding and flying within the lush
sanctuary, complete with its own waterfall. Though overcome by their delicate nature, elegance and
mystique, my parting sentiment was that considering their short lifespan, butterflies should be free!


In reality, water is a potpourri assembled from across the globe. The Niagara and the town bearing its
name, Niagara-on the-Lake, contribute their own unique aromatic sachet, just like other aquatic
experiences: Inhaling the icy steel blue Atlantic feeding the Galicia Rías Baixas; catching a breath of the
sapphire Caribbean Sea vehemently rocking a dashing speedboat; drawing in the insignificance of my
being before the majestic Iguazu Falls; scenting the life of conflict and toil along the Rio de la Plata;
savoring the crystalline and expansive Mediterranean that embodies the culture of many ethnicities-

Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, African, Croatian… Mellow, sweet, lovely and spicy is the fragrance
of water
.

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