Bored? Try Your Local Flea Market

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Junk gypsy

I was bored on Sunday. What could I do with my time? I just didn’t feel like doing any writing, crafts or (shudder) housework, I just wasn’t in the mood and I have to be in the mood. So what to do with my poor, bored self? Well I decided to take a few hours at the local flea market. We have one just fifteen minutes away, an easy little day trip. I’ve recently rekindled an interest in antiques and collectibles so the market seemed like a logical place to explore. I haven’t been there for over a year, it lost it’s appeal, but this seemed a good time to revisit and see if anything new had come along or if my interest was piqued by something else. People visit the flea market to find deals or a unique item. The overhead is lower for the vendors so goods, whether new or used should really be cheaper and this savings should be passed on to the customers. It helps if you know your prices and what to expect from a flea market vendor. Make sure the items actually work before you leave the stall, avoid that type of rip off. But usually the vendors are pretty good about making sure something works the way it’s supposed to.

I dragged the hubby out with me, we parked and started out exploring the first building closest to us. It’s called the Junk Gypsy. Aptly named, there is a whole lot of stuff jumbled on tables and shelves. None of it has ever been dusted let alone cleaned. I couldn’t go near the books, I’m sure they were full of silverfish and the musty smell would have followed me home. What a shame to treat books that way. There may have been treasures hidden away but I couldn’t bring myself to dig into any of it.

The next two buildings held antiques and collectibles. These had some good stuff that had been cleaned and cared for. We aren’t in the market to buy but really enjoyed examining the items and talking to the owners. They are always interested in talking abut their wares and have a ton of information. there was a lot of furniture, some old and some newer in the last outdoor space. Most of it was in good shape and reasonably priced. We came across some very unique items to

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It was time for a break so we joined the queue at the chip truck for an order of poutine and cold drinks. Poutine is a uniquely Canadian dish made with French fries topped with cheese curds, usually mild white cheddar or mozzarella cheese curds, and lovely brown gravy poured over them. The hot gravy and the hot fries melt the cheese between them. These were made with grated orange cheddar that was a little sharp in flavour, not as good as it should be but tasty in a different way.

Refreshed we entered the main building. There are all sorts of really great booths with a wide variety of goods for sale. Some hand crafted items, fresh deli food and a little fresh baked goods booth where I bought absolutely delicious sunflower seed and light rye bread. The owner threw in a loaf of wonderful seven grain bread too because it was getting late and he didn’t want to have to throw anything out. He tempted us with samples of truly wonderful streudel but we were able to avoid the temptation to buy one. Next time though I’ll be getting a blueberry streudel and damn the calories! Another booth I loved was the one that sells rocks. I love rocks and had a big collection of rocks and fossils when I was a child. It sounds odd to have a booth devoted to the sale of rocks but these are mostly crystals and raw stones like amethyst and agate. He gives out printed sheets describing each stone, its physical, healing and mystical properties. I found it so interesting that I may go back, purchase a few stones and begin blogging about their properties.

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Finally we visited with a friend who has a booth. He is a realtor and uses the booth to promote that part of his business, but he also has a sideline of metal detector sales and is very knowledgeable. He also sells little odds and ends at prices as low as five cents. Back outside, we strolled around tables filled with locally grown fruit and vegetables, homemade jams and honey. We saved that one til the end so we didn’t have to drag our veggies through the rest of the market. You just can’t beat locally grown!

So on a boring Sunday afternoon, might I suggest a visit to your local flea market and a stroll through the booths. It’s a great little daytrip even if it’s only fifteen minutes from home.

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Oshawa’s Hidden Gem

 

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Here in my city, Oshawa, Ontario, we have a hidden gem, a wonderful place to get away for a few hours. I wonder if very many people, aside from the local population, know about Oshawa’s Second Marsh, a beautiful urban wetland. It’s bordered to the north by highway 401, to the south by Lake Ontario, to the east by industry and to the west by the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. There is  sandy beach separating it from the lake, a lovely spot for turtles to nest. Three hundred four acres of marsh, swamp, meadow and thicket, it is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals and reptiles. It is a provincially significant wetland protected under law, home to four species at risk, owned by the city and helped out by groups such as Friends of the Second Marsh and Ducks Unlimited.

Paved walking trail
Paved walking trail

There are a series of hiking trails and viewing platforms that offer an opportunity to explore this unique environment without harming the fragile ecosystem or disturbing the wildlife. It is one of the largest coastal marshes on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Along the trails are interpretive and direction signs that have been installed to guide visitors through the habitat areas. The primary trail is asphalt so it is wheelchair accessible. The adjacent area, McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, is not paved, has lovely paths with woodchip coverings, is also well marked, and has interpretive signage. Originally the trails surrounding the marsh were used as portage areas by the First Nations people to connect the interior of the province to Lake Ontario, later by European settlers to open up the area to trade and exploration, and now for our enjoyment of all things nature.

North part of marsh
North part of marsh

A former premier of Ontario, Davis Crombie, called Second Marsh an “environmental gem in an urban setting”. Right now I call it an emerald. The greenery is stunning with spots of colourful wildflowers and birds winging through the trees and across the marshes and ponds. In winter it would be a diamond, with a beautiful, bright snow cover; spring is an opal with its soft colours coming to life and autumn is a combination as the fall colours are spectacular. I spent time on the viewing decks overlooking various ponds and the marshes just soaking in the quiet and peace before I roused myself to take some photos. Most of the waterways bear the names of families important to the development of the city; Wilkinson’s Pond, Scott’s Pond, and Scattergood’s Pond to name a few. The creeks running through the marsh are important to breeding fish species, birds, and even some flowers that are spread via the water. The creeks are occupied by rainbow and brown trout, white suckers and even Chinook and Coho salmon. All these can be spotted, if you’re lucky, travelling upstream to breed at specific times of the season. There are muskrats, minks, at one time river otters populated the area and hopefully will again, along with the usual fauna, racoons, rabbits and deer. Of course there are busy insects as well and the always hungry mosquito so don’t forget to use an insect repellant before you venture into the area.

 

Encroaching industry
Encroaching industry

It is a great spot to “cure your nature deficit disorder” say the members of Friends of the Second Marsh. There is always a need to protect this area against pressure for future industrialization of the area east of the marsh and citizens are ever vigilant to prevent this happening. the peacefulness is broken by the sound of machinery at work. Many hundreds of Oshawa citizens remain alert, hoping their efforts will prevent attempts at future industrialization. Anyone can visit Oshawa’s Second Marsh. It’s free! There is a bus service and some on street parking on Colonel Sam Drive. It’s a lovely bike ride from anywhere in the city or like we do, carry your bike down in the car and ride along from the General Motors Headquarters.

Does your city have a unique preserve like Oshawa’s, a hidden gem?