Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Gratitude Journal: Fredericton....."These are a Few of my Favorite Things..."

Today's Featured Mittens

Grape Expectations

I have been reading a lot of magazines lately.  Somehow this winter has zapped my usual energy and concentration for reading books and I have been very slow to complete novels.  Thus the indulgence in the less demanding magazine genre.  Certain themes keep cropping up including that of "gratitude" ...the gratitude journal, the gratitude list, etc.  The question is, "What are you grateful for?"   That's not a bad exercise in thinking positive.  In a circuitous fashion, this led me to think about what I love about Fredericton.   And I do love living in Fredericton so I set about compiling a list of the top ten things I love about this little city of 55,000 people.  Here goes. The list is sort of in chronological order, that is how I experience the item/place in my day and week and season.

1. The Daily Gleaner
The first thing I do every morning, is rush to the back door to fetch The Daily Gleaner, our local newspaper.  Snuggled on my couch, sipping freshly brewed coffee, I read it in the following order:
  • obituaries
  • front page
  • first section
  • living section
I do not even open the sports section.  By the time I have skimmed the headlines and read some articles, Tom has arrived and we do the Jumble together.  I hold the paper and the pen and call out the letters to him.  Somehow he is able to unscramble the anagrams without looking at them.    If he has time before going to work, he likes to hear what helpful hints Heloise has to share.  If possible, he will stick around and help me with the easy crossword puzzle.  Once he is off to work, I do the crypto-quote and at least start the hard crossword puzzle.  Ah, the Gleaner....what a way to start the day....

2.  The YMCA
After a hearty breakfast, most days I head to the YMCA which is a mere 10 minute walk from our home.  I have been a Y member for about 30 years.  I love it and it is a very important part of my life.  I am quite inconsistent as to what I do at the Y.  I choose my activity based on which part of my body is hurting or not hurting.  Currently, I am frequenting the pool for aqua-fit, aqua-stretch and some lap swimming.  I will go through a spell when I go to fitness classes, and another spell where I use weights and machines.  The beauty of the Y is that it fits my inconsistency.  I love the variety to do whatever I feel like.  I would never join a gym that did not have a pool just as I would never live in a town that did not have an indoor pool.  The staff at the Y---from the receptionists to the janitor to the fitness instructors---is friendly and welcoming and that makes it a very inviting place for me to spend an hour or two each day.  I should add that I frequent the Y mostly in the winter months. 

3.  CBC Evening News
Five o'clock in the evening finds me in front of the TV with some of my best friends, Harry, Kalin, Jacques, Rachel, Katherine, Sonya, Robert, Bobby Jean etc.  I do not like to miss the news and these people have become an important part of my daily life.  I have come very close to embarrassing myself by assuming that if they are such an important part of my life, then I must be an important part of their lives.  So if I see Harry at the market or Katherine at the Superstore, I naturally begin to say hi and start a conversation with them.  After all, I spend a fair percentage of my day with them.  I have to catch myself and remember my relationship with them is rather one-sided.

4.  The Victory Meat Market
In the heart of downtown, this long-established grocery store has everything you need.  Covering a small floor space, you can be in and out of this store in 10 minutes with 4 bags of groceries and a most  satisfying sales slip.  You are sure to find the best deals in town, especially on produce!  Again, a 10 minute walk from our house this has become a perfect after supper outing  for us.  Tom stays outside with Nugget while I go in for the grocery items.  No muss.  No fuss.  And did I mention the discount rack?  (RFR) Always a bargain to be found.  And the staff---salt of the earth.  Although they do not know me by name, I am sure they say, "Oh, here comes that poor old lady who buys everything off the discount rack.  You know, the one with the dog....and the husband who waits outside.  Do you think she should get the senior discount?"

Literary Aside:
In 2003, Lynn Coady, winner of the 2013 Giller Prize for her book Hellgoing, edited a collection of short stories written by Atlantic Canadians entitled Victory Meat.  The cover of that book features the distinctive sign which hangs outside the Victory Meat Market.  In her introduction to the book, Coady describes The Victory as having a "gritty sort of toughness that has yet to be buffed over by the well-meaning architects of nostalgia and sentiment...It's there to sell meat, dammit, not postcards....At the same time there's a post-war, can-do sort of pugnacity about the place.  We're gonna sell the hell out of this meat and who's to say otherwise?...The Victory Meat Market is both out of, and in keeping with, the character of Fredericton----and, by extension, the Atlantic provinces---all at once.  Which in some ways makes it typical---if that makes any sense."  Lynn Coady

5.  Aura Foods
Although I do not frequent this establishment as often as The Victory, it is a constant in my life.  Here I buy my bulk food items like oatmeal, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, quinoa, rice, spices etc.  Besides the quality of the products, one thing I love about my Aura experience is the scooping of the products into the bags.  I like the tactile, physical activity of doing that!  The other thing that keeps me going back is that the people who work there know my name.  They do say, "Hi Barb,"  and sort of pass the time of day with me while I am scooping and bagging in my Zen-like state.  There is something special about that.  Good marketing.  For those of you who have never visited Aura, it is worth going there if only for the feta cheese and black olives.  And cinnamon from Aura is outstanding.  You may find it hard to believe that one source of cinnamon might be better than another, but, trust me, it is.  I've done comparative tasting.  An 8 minute walk from our house. 

6.  Dimitri's
My first choice of an eating establishment in Fredericton is Dimitris.  In the heart of downtown, this Greek restaurant delivers great taste and substantial portions for a very reasonable price.  A great bang for the buck!  The setting is cozy and the staff is friendly and efficient.  I must admit, however, that over the many years I have been patronizing this restaurant, I almost always get the same thing....chicken souvlaki platter.  Chicken skewers, Greek salad, 1/2 rice, 1/2 Greek potatoes, pita bread, tzatziki.  Friggin' delicious!  The feta, the pita bread, the Greek potatoes---outstanding!!  Good coffee and good desserts too.  Dimitris is just across from The Victory---10 minute walk from our house. 

7.  Boyce Farmers' Market
And, on Saturday mornings, the great Fredericton tradition, The Boyce Farmers' Market.  This market was rated one of the top ten in Canada recently for good reason.  Fresh and local produce is abundant and of superior quality particularly in late summer and early fall.  In addition to supporting our local economy, shopping at the market is a significant social activity in Fredericton---you will always see somebody you know.  This time of year I leave the market with the following items in my shopping bag:  smelt, Armadale yogurt and quark, Montreal bagels, maple syrup, eggs, samosas, and Villeneuve carrots if available.  Fifteen minute walk from our house. 

8.  The Trails
Fredericton has 85 kilometres of beautiful trails within the city limits.  From our house, I can head out on the trails in 4 different directions for at least an hour bike ride.  Built on the old rail bed, the trails are flat and easy biking for all.  Several kilometres of the trails are paved which makes them accessible not only to bikes, but also to skateboards, strollers and wheelchairs.  Trails follow the St.John and Nashwaak Rivers, through the city, through the woods, providing a variety of scenery along the way.  While I do not bike from November to March, I do use the trails for walking during those months as they provide a quieter option for walking than the city streets. 

9.  Odell Park
A beautiful setting for a hike through the woods.  What a treasure to have 175 hectares of woods in the middle of a city.  It takes about an hour and 15 minutes for me to circumnavigate the periphery of Odell Park with Nugget.  This is an all-season activity.  Again, a mere 10 minute walk from my house takes me to a quiet and peaceful environment where one soon forgets they are in a city.

10.  Sunset U-Pick
On the north side of Fredericton, but still within the city limits, is Sunset U-Pick where you can gather your annual supply of strawberries, raspberries and high-bush blueberries in a most idyllic setting.  The berry fields, off the beaten path, are surrounded by woods which buffers any city noise that might filter in.  Of course, you only pick berries when the sun is shining so being alone in a berry patch on a sunny afternoon where the loudest noise is birdsong is a bit like being in the Garden of Eden, I think.  Although I love engaging in this peaceful and productive activity on my own, it is also pleasant to share this activity with friends.  I try to go a few times in the "season" to get enough berries to fill the freezer so I can eat local in the winter months.   This Fredericton treasure is about a 10 minute car trip from our house.  Although the bike trail passes by the "Gates to Sunset", I have not yet fashioned a way to transport my bevy of berries on my bike.  

So that's my Gratitude Journal about Fredericton.  As you have probably noticed, one of the great advantages of living in downtown Fredericton is the close proximity to all the things I love about this little city.  Indeed, with the exception of the u-pick, we are able to access all my favorite Fredericton sites without using our car.  In fact, I find it easier to walk or bike than find a parking spot.

I draw your attention to The Wordhouse which is a book exchange site in our neighborhood where you can pick up a book for free and leave one for someone else.  This whimsical neighborhood artifact represents the warm fuzzy feelings I have for Fredericton.     

Until Next Time....



  1. I loved Fredericton when we lived down east. It has changed so much in some ways and not at all in others. Good to know about the Greek restaurant, we will have to check it out when we come down. Last time I was at the Market, I found it rather overwhelming compared to when we lived there. In my second year at UNB, I actually lived right across from the parking lot, at the corner of Regent and George St. I would love to live downtown again. Thanks for such a lovely reminder.

    1. Thanks, Hayley. Fredericton is just right for me now. I look forward to our lunch on the Danforth next week. Maybe that will make it my Favorite Toronto List.

  2. I just finished reading Lynn Coady's Hellgoing and who knew she knew about Victory?? Also thanks for the reminder about Dimitri's --love their food and forget they are there sometimes!