Christmas magic. That may be the best way to describe our beautiful afternoon at Odd Corners Farms. The snow was lightly falling, the air had a slight bite to it, a slight bite, but not bitter cold. We snuggled under blankets and enjoyed the soothing sway of the sleigh, mixed with the excitement of the hills. The world was a blanket of white, and the only sound was the baying of hounds in the distance and the beautiful jingling of the sleigh bells. Christmas magic.
Odd Corners Farm is owned by Lion and Raquilda Van Zoeren. I say "owned" but really it feels like they are stewards of that land. As we rode through their beautiful piece of paradise, Lion told us about the land, what it had been, the shape that they found it in, and what it was now. You could hear the love in his voice and see it in his eyes as he spoke about their land. His beautiful big horses obeyed his every command all the while he spoke. It was almost as if they knew what he wanted them to do without ever being told. It was a thing of beauty to see him handle those gentle giants. He spoke to them with a firm loving voice, I was in awe.
The land was beautiful, layered with a white blanket. We rode through big open fields and then through a stunning path with trees guarding it on either side. At one point we rode through the forrest, flanked on either side by rock giants. It was almost like a mythical land. At one point Lion stopped the team to show us his rock labyrinth. We climbed out of the sleigh to explore the amazing rocks. I half expected to see mythical creatures peeking out from the rocks and graceful fairies hiding in the trees. There really are not words to adequately express the beauty of their property.
The whole ride the three dogs ran along behind the sleigh. Two of the dogs were pugs and one was a big white fluffy dog. We loved to watch them chase along. Elly was in love. She was more in love with the dogs than she was with the sleigh ride itself. She would squeal with delight as she saw the little pugs running along beside us, she even went so far as to rename the pugs "Puggy and Loyd"( I sure hope that Lion and Raquilda will remember to call their pets by their new names). At one point Lion stopped the sleigh to allow the fat little male pug jump into the sleigh. This just threw Elly over the edge, she could barely contain her joy. Her little face just beamed as she would report where "Puggy" was. All of the kids loved to watch him run back and forth under the trailing blankets.
I was sad to see their beautiful house, because it meant the end of our ride. As we approached the house we could see the flicker of a bright orange fire just by the house. Reluctantly we climbed out of the sleigh and made our way over to the fire. The fire warmed our bones. It was so nice to have the bite of the cold and the soothing warmth of the fire. Soon after Raquilda came out of the house with a tray full of hot chocolate, gorgeous homemade chocolate chip cookies, hot dogs and marshmallows. She invited us to dig in. The hot chocolate was smooth and warm, it sank right into my bones, warming me up on the inside, while the fire warmed the outside. In other words it was bliss!
At one point we were standing around the fire, thoroughly enjoying ourselves, when we heard the flapping of wings. Suddenly this lovely white pigeon landed on my Mom's shoulder. It just sat there passively enjoying the comfort of the fire. Raquilda told us that an animal had gotten in and killed the pigeons parents and that she had felt such sympathy for the poor little thing that she raised it. It was now the family pet. Shortly after that the pigeon flew off of Mom's shoulder to find a new roost upon Grace's hat.
As I said in a past blog about our sleigh rides, Raquilda's son Wesley is in Grace's class. Wesley is one of the cutest most friendly kids and I was looking forward to meeting his parents. I can now tell you that Lion and Raquilda are two of the loveliest, friendliest people that I have had the pleasure of meeting. They love their land, and the life that they have created for themselves, it shows. They are just lovely people. It was such a lovely afternoon that will become an annual family tradition.
A sleigh ride does not just have to be confined to Christmas. The kids will have two weeks of holidays for Christmas break, and will become bored about a minute after they have opened their gifts. Instead of taking them to the movies, why not bundle them up and take them over to Odd Corners Farm for a sleigh ride? Movies are great, but so passive. In the sleigh I was surrounded by the amazing beauty in which I am blessed to live. I was with my family, we were enjoying each other and the ride. We were making life long memories. You may remember the movie that you have seen, but did it create a life long memory? Lion and Raquilda can fit 10 - 12 people in the sleigh, and the cost is a small $85.00 (less than it would cost by far to take 10 - 12 people to the movies). If you would like to experience some winter magic call Lion and Raquilda to book your sleigh ride 613-478-2604, trust me on this one, your kids and you will thank me for suggesting it!
Thank you Lion and Raquilda for sharing your little piece of paradise with us.