Monday, 10 June 2013

An unconventional tourist in Leamington 1

Leamington tourist information booth; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Years of living in cities have shaped me. As a child, Leamington was the place to be born, buy groceries, go to church, go to (the secular) high school, buy clothes and shoes, eat out, visit the doctor, etc. It was a happening place. Now that I've lived in cities, Leamington is boring. A Walmart has basically killed the downtown, and Walmart itself is boring, so what is there to do? On a recent visit, my hubby and I played tourist. We visited the Big Tomato, the Leamington Arts Centre, a few downtown stores, and had a picnic in Seacliff Park. We looked at the town with fresh eyes and took pictures.
Heinz display; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
The Leamington Arts Centre is located in the former Customs building and has been beautifully restored. It's a gorgeous space, not what you would expect a town to have. One room houses Dennis Jackson's private collection of H.J. Heinz memorabilia. I grew up picking tomatoes and peppers for Heinz. I was surprised that at one point they also made apple butter and peanut butter.
Leamington monarch butterfly "mural"; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
The monarch butterfly "mural" is a nice touch on a drab building. Leamington is on the migration route of monarch butterflies. 
Evergreen cemetery mausoleum; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
A few family members are buried in Evergreen Cemetery and I like to visit at least once a year. The cemetery has been part of my life since I was a young child. It's always looked like a sleepy, sedate park with all the stones flush with the grass. A few years ago one mausoleum was built, and then another came along. Still, the graves were all horizontal. When we visited recently, first I noticed how incredibly colourful the mausoleum in the back corner was adorned. 
Evergreen cemetery new corner; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Then I noticed the back corner behind the colourful mausoleum. Hey, when did all those upright stones pop up? I had never seen such colour at Evergreen. The Mennonite section is plain, somber, sedate. Leamington is home to a large Lebanese, Italian, and Portuguese community. Clearly this is their section. This corner is fun, festive, over-the-top, and visited regularly. I'm sure these folks have the best parties, with lots of music, too much food, and plenty of alcohol. I'll bet they even dance at their parties. These folks truly honour their dead with flowers, rosaries, statuary, and mementos. After all this colour, I visited my family in the sedate section and my sweet husband cleared the grass partially obscuring two graves. It was good to experience both the colour and the calm.

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