The first time I ... experienced autumn.
Autumn has always been my favourite season, with its warm hues from the tree leaves that have changed colour, the (imagined) smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spice in baked goods, and the opportunity to celebrate Halloween.
However, because of my hectic schedule and circumstances, my travels to countries with four seasons always seemed to be during other seasons such as spring or winter.
So, I was thrilled when I finally had the opportunity to travel to Canada for a holiday with my husband during autumn. It was the year 2013 and we were going to attend my cousin’s wedding.
I was really excited because this trip was going to be a first of many firsts for me.
It would be my first time enjoying the autumn (or “fall” in Canada) season. Without a doubt, this is the perfect time to be outdoors there because of the natural beauty and cool weather after the heat of summer (it can get hotter than Malaysia!). Canada is also the perfect place to experience autumn because of its many outdoor tourist attractions.
We got to visit several of them, including recreational parks such as Cootes Paradise and Princess Point in Hamilton, and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.
My relatives were extremely amused as I ooohed and aaahed at the red, orange and yellow hues along the many trails when they brought us hiking.
Then, I discovered that the beauty of the Canadian fall colours also enhanced other tourist attractions like the Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, which comprised over 30 restored historical buildings. These magnificent buildings took us back in time to the days of the early settlers and pioneers. They looked like they had been plucked right out of the pages of a history book and they were surrounded by scenic forest trails and meadows, all ablaze with autumn colours.
I was in seventh heaven. Everywhere I turned, a picture-perfect sight greeted my eyes.
It was also a first time for me to visit the waterfront park Bayfront Park in Hamilton, Port Dover, the Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum in Mount Hope, and a North American Indian reserve known as Six Nations of the Grand River.
Besides that, we also went horseback riding across the colourful Canadian countryside at The Ranch in Oakville.
The other memorable firsts during this trip were the festivals that I got to be a part of. It was my first time celebrating a true Canadian Thanksgiving with my cousin’s family, and enjoying a homecooked Thanksgiving dinner with turkey. It came complete with cranberry sauce, stuffing and sides ... and I had the opportunity to help prepare the traditional meal.
The other festival was Halloween. Although I didn’t dress up in a costume, we had gone to Myers Apple Farm in Hamilton, and Bennett’s Apples & Cider Market in Ancaster, where we got to pick out not just apples, but also pumpkins to carve into Jack-o-Lanterns. After my cousin demonstrated how to do it, I gingerly picked up the knife and started carving.
“Not bad, for a first timer!” my cousin laughingly remarked, pretending to scrutinise my handiwork.
The climax of all firsts was the reason for the trip – to attend my cousin’s wedding. It was a beautiful traditional church wedding followed by a Western-style wedding dinner and dance.
Although I’ve travelled to many places, I must admit that this was one of my favourite trips – partly because it was during my favourite season, but also because we got to spend time with loved ones who are far away.