Saturdays in Sudbury: Exploration as the cure to all that ails

Last Saturday I was throwing a little pity party for myself. Slumped over my laptop with the darkness of my bedroom clinging to my pyjamas, I was looking at all the tweets coming from Ottawa’s infamous Great Glebe Garage Sale. Each 140-character message summoned a fond memory from the past two years that I attended. I was brewing the finest of sadness serums.

And then I made the following decisions: I needed to get out of the house. I needed to put normal clothes on. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself.

So, adventuring I did go.

If there is one thing I can say about myself, it’s that I’m one lucky explorer. I am drawn to fun city happenings whether I mean to be or not. And that’s quite super.

I parked my bike in one of the cute, vegetable-inspired bike racks outside of Market Square and started my morning by strolling around the gardening festival.

I smelled petunias and mint, ran my fingers along the zig-zagged edge of ridged leaves, and got a tiny red pine seedling to plant in my backyard.

What came next was a pleasant surprise.

There was a flurry of activity on a street block downtown – the section where Larch Street meets Durham at Elgin, for those of you who know Sudbury. This mystery event was the perfect remedy to my earlier sadness. It was a yard sale.

I walked up and down the one block stretch of tables at least half a dozen times, closing my eyes and pretending that it was something bigger. There was a barbeque and a kettle corn stand, a man selling a plethora of over-priced vintage do-dads at his two tables. I would have sold my soul for this old globe.

My favourite table belonged to Hannah, a grade eight student at Churchill Public School. Her table was a message in a bottle station – a display leftover from an entrepreneur fair that was held in her school’s gym. She proudly told me that she made $75 that day. I couldn’t help but buy a message in a bottle. When I was her age I had a potpourri “shop” in my neighbours shed. I used to collect wildflowers and grasses from the nearby ravine, stuff them down the neck of leftover wine bottles, and force my parents to buy them for $5 to put on display near our whirlpool. Hannah appealed the sense of whimsy and determination that I had when I was her age, and have continued to foster today. Just take my $1.50, already. (Side note: the best part of standing by Hannah’s table was watching a grown man purchase a book about dragons. Looks like someone has been watching a little too many Game of Thrones episodes..)

Hannah + my message in a bottle

Then came time for me to scribble my message. I carefully selected my writing utensil from a collection of gel pens (also a former love of mine). I chose a glimmering purple ink and outlined my message in neon pink. That’s right. You want to be serious about your message? You sure as hell better write it in unicorn-themed colours.

Hannah rolled up my message around an orange pen and held it together with an elastic band she snapped off a rubber ball. In my message went. I’ll cast this one off at the end of the summer. As for my message, it wasn’t so much a note to some love of my life, but rather a personal wish involving person and place. I’ll just leave it at that.

In the end, this yard sale appealed to my every weakness. Or, more specifically, my weakness for old things that you can re-furbish in creative ways to make something new and unique.

There were gilded gold frames (four for $1)

A collection of Mason jars ($1 each)

A cute floral saucer that now holds my collection of earrings, volcanic rocks and sea shells.

And several more things that I couldn’t get. Including this teal-coloured sewing machine that was being given away for free (!!!!!!).

Okay, so I added a yellow tint in Photoshop to make it look a little more rad. But still.

While I have carried many a cake on my bicycle, I thought this 20-pound machine was probably my limit. I walked away. One day I will have a beautiful collection of vintage sewing machines, though. This I promise you.

My downtown adventure ended at the Boulangerie du la Village, where I sat at the makeshift outdoor patio. I sipped my apple lavender broth and contently dunked my fresh, doughy bun into the bowl like a baby being baptized. In my ears, a schizophrenic symphony, a meshing of melodies. Across the street, two girls strummed and sang Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, with just enough twang to please the crowd. Behind me, jazzy brass runs, making me feel as though I just got lost in Woody Allen’s latest flick.

This really was the perfect morning. Moral of the blog post? Happiness comes when you least expect it – you just have to get off your chair and find it.


111 thoughts on “Saturdays in Sudbury: Exploration as the cure to all that ails

  1. That sounds like a truly perfect day! It’s so true that simply by making up your mind to have an exciting day that you can make it happen. Lovely idea about sending a wish for yourself into the world:) Beautiful photos too!

  2. Hi Hilary! We missed you at the GGGS this year. Why are you feeling sorry for yourself again? You’d never know it from this post. The yard sale is definitely a cure all.

  3. Is there a more perfect moment than stumbling on a trove of other people’s colorful jumbles? I hit the yard sale circuit every Saturday and post pics of my finds (oh, the possibility of a bargain and what you could do with those trinkets), but I think next time, you must buy a trailer for your bike so you can get that rad sewing machine home! I’m sure you could find one at a yard sale . . . : )

  4. This was fun to read, because recently I’ve been in a “slump” (I think, strangely, because I just need a big, cathartic, thunderstorm to roll in), so it was nice to see how far your adventures got you!


  5. I lived in Ottawa for several years and I remember the Great Glebe Garage Sale! I’m sorry you had to miss out on it this year, but look at all of the things you found! Who knew Sudbury was so awesome?? :)

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  6. I saw this in FP and thought it was Sudbury in Suffolk UK. Lol. Your Sudbury sounds like it’s a very nice place. Lovely photos and sounds as though you had a great time. Now, I wonder if OUR Sudbury is as nice. :)

  7. What a great post!! You’re so right: exploring, just getting out and seeing new things (reminding yourself there’s a big world out there, I guess) so often does “cure what ails you”! You just never know what you’ll find (I love being reminded of that!)

    I love that message in a bottle idea, too!

  8. I love your last line! That’s definitely one of my persistent bad habits – not getting off my chair and wallowing in boredom/sadness/self-pity. I’ve been wanting to visit a garage sale/thrift store for some time now, and you’ve given me the inspiration to get off that chair :)

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  9. congratulations for being featured in Freshly Pressed !
    Love ur post, beautiful pictures and by the way the idea of writing the message in the bottle was super awesome ! must be really fun ! ;) keep on posting Hilary ;)

  10. A perfect sentence… “I sipped my apple lavender broth and contently dunked my fresh, doughy bun into the bowl like a baby being baptized” Great writing… thanks for sharing you day!

  11. Very fun! Sometimes being brave enough to sit completely alone and enjoys the sights and sound of the world bustling around is just too perfect for anything but a blissful smile. :D

  12. Loved this post. As a former Torontonian (now living north of NYC) it’s easy to think “Sudbury? Really?” (Which is why everyone hates people from Toronto.) Your sense of joy is charming and infectious and I bet will inspire a bunch of people out into the day to explore. I love the message-in-bottle girl…when I was 12 I made bead bracelets and sold them on the street. Good to know that creative young girls are everywhere!

  13. What a beautifully put-together post Hilary. I enjoyed it…made me think of my many trips to Sudbury. Enjoy the Freshly Pressed ride!

  14. …and just to add to that, I owned several newspapers in Barrie for 20 some years, and now work free lance as a boating journalist, traveling the US east coast, Bahamas and Cuba. Do we none of us have nothing better to do today than sit and blog away? Hilary, go down to Bell Park and give us an on the spot report please!!! I’m sure there’s something happening there…

  15. Wonderful day and adventure I’d say but just so you know, you can never watch too many episodes of “Game of Thrones.” My family is from Timmins and I know the wonderful city of Sudbury well. Lucky you again…

  16. Your pictures are as evocative as your words. I particularly loved Hilary and her “Message in a bottle” venture. The Sidney Summer Market has just started out here on the western edge of Canada, and I’d love to see a similar venture here! Thanks for this lovely celebration of your neighbourhood!

  17. “Happiness comes when you least expect it – you just have to get off your chair and find it.” –Amen! And the great thing is, you don’t even have to look far to find it. :)

  18. I too have a lot of those pitty parties on my own. If only my city had more to be seen and done, I would’ve definitely gotten off that chair!

  19. Funny how people get a certain idea of a city, and nice to be able to show a different side because you know it, and have had happy moments there, first hand. And you are very right about finding the moments of happiness, in the least expected time or place. I’ve learned, too, that it’s essential to recognize and appreciate those moments, right then and there. They are like soap bubbles, and can’t be hung on to. But they’re enchanting while there. Congrats on fresh press — that has to be a happy moment.

  20. Love Hannah’s photo holding your message in a bottle. Great little metaphor for what you didn’t know would lure you from pj day doldrums! Great post and blog! – Renee

  21. I wish it were this easy to find yard sales in Asia! I suspect my mother made a deal with the city mayor to never hold one; else, everybody else’s junk might end up in our garage (for my want of old sentiments)..

  22. I was feeling sorry for myself yesterday and also went out in search of adventure. I ended up with a parking fine:(

  23. I really loved reading this – you’re very fortunate to be a lucky explorer, and I love the charm of flea markets, art bazaars, street performances etc. They’re much more appealing than departmental stores and fancy boutiques, and you usually meet nicer, more interesting people there with a story to tell. Good luck with the vintage sewing machine collection and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  24. Congrats on the award! Love your post and pics and your personality. One thing – the floral dish – that would drive me nuts! It’d be like my earings playing hide & go seek with me every day :)

  25. Hey! I loved your post.. It is really motivating. The next time I am feeling gloomy, the first thing I am going to do is go out and find out whats waiting for me. After reading your post, I am feeling really happy!

  26. “I chose a glimmering purple ink and outlined my message in neon pink. That’s right. You want to be serious about your message? You sure as hell better write it in unicorn-themed colours.”

    Thank you for this! It made my day. And I love that you spell colour correctly even if the computer says you’re wrong.

    Don’t lose that desire to get off your chair and wander, you find such wonderful things!

  27. I would kill for that turquoise sewing machine. Just used my ’60s avocado green mixer to bake a cake – some things just never go out of style or break :-)) Great blog btw and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  28. How fun! I wish I had the lucky explorer in me too, but it seems to be taking more effort than just leaving the house ;) thanks for sharing, these are great!

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