Tattoo.

Today is new tattoo day.

This tattoo honours my late father, my family, and my unique identity within it. My family’s surname is Dutch: Groenenboom, which translates to ‘green tree’.

I am thankful to be starting the new year by doing something to deeply meaningful. It is a positive way of acknowledging those who have passed, including my own father six months ago, those who are still flourishing, and my connection to them all.

I spent ages choosing the tree design, as there are myriad options available and many are gorgeous. I chose this one because it symbolises strength, beauty and grace. The maple leaf represents me, obviously, unique among the other leaves, but strongly connected and coming from the same source.

I am so proud that this symbolic tree is now part of me.

Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is nothing short of amazing. Powerful, inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful, this is one place that stole a piece of my heart the moment I set foot here eighteen months ago. 

Then, it was at the tail end of winter. There was snow on the ground and parts of the cascades were frozen. There were icebergs in the river. The purity of the glistening whiteness only added to the majesty of the falls. 

  
This time, it’s early autumn and the trees are just beginning to try on the fashionable shades of the season, although the leaves are still mostly green. A blue sky, cheerful sunshine and 24C made for a magnificent day for visiting the falls. 

  
It’s not easy to even get close to describing the falls in words. There is a constant rumble of water tumbling over the cliffs, while a plume of mist rises into the sky from the base of the Horseshoe Falls, the name given to the Canadian side of the falls. 

There are cruises which depart from either side of the falls. The American one is named Maid of the Mist, while the Canadian is named Hornblower. The cruises don’t run in the winter, so it wasn’t an option to experience one last time I was here. This time, though, I was very keen to experience the falls up close and personal, so to speak. 

I donned my complimentary rain poncho and boarded the boat with my friends Sean and Jenn. In the interests of looking all mature and sensible. I said I was excited; internally, though, I was squealing like a six year old on a roller coaster. We set off, and I have a vague suspicion that some of those excited squeals may have escaped as we got nearer to the falls. 

  
What a mind-blowing experience. The power of the water, the tingling coolness of the mist, the overwhelming humility of realising how big those falls are and how small I am, and the joy of being so close to something so magnificent all combined to be almost overwhelming in the most incredibly pleasant of ways.  

 
Later in the day, as we stood on a balcony just above the top of the Horseshoe Falls, I reflected on my love for this place and the exhilaration of the sheer joy that I feel here. I can’t explain it, but both emotions are very real. 

  
This is truly an experience and a day I will never forget.  Niagara Falls, I love you.