No Woman Left Be­hind

In­jury may have side­lined Tif­fany Leigh in Que­bec’s Eastern Town­ships, but it also ex­posed her to kind­ness she might not have oth­er­wise seen.

Fashion (Canada) - - Moments -

As I waited at the hos­pi­tal to get a gash on my leg stitched up, two thoughts crept into my head: “Tim Hor­tons’s grilled chicken wrap for din­ner isn’t half bad” and “These Lu­l­ule­mon pants are in­cred­i­ble: no punc­tures to the leg­gings, and the blood eas­ily washed out!” Truly odd thoughts—I was deliri­ous and fraught with anx­ious­ness by this time. As a free­lance jour­nal­ist, I’d been trav­el­ling for work for over two years, so this ad­ven­ture wasn’t my first rodeo. But this was cer­tainly the first ma­jor in­jury I’d ever sus­tained, and be­cause I felt men­tally and phys­i­cally drained, the flood­gates of fren­zied chaos were un­leashed. But life hap­pens. And I learned that there’s al­ways a sil­ver lin­ing—even if it’s dif­fi­cult to find, at first. De­spite what hap­pened, I would re­turn to the Eastern Town­ships in a heart­beat.

To set the scene, the Eastern Town­ships is a pic­turesque area rem­i­nis­cent of New Eng­land but with a dis­tinct Cana­dian flair and sen­ti­ment. Lo­cated about 90 min­utes east of Mon­treal, the re­gion is com­posed of 125 quaint lit­tle towns with the pop­u­la­tion hover­ing at around 400,000. Hugged by the nat­u­ral beauty of moun­tains, lakes and forests, the res­i­dents are clearly of “the cold never both­ers me” camp. Even in frozen tun­dra con­di­tions, you’ll see lo­cals mer­rily jog­ging, fat bik­ing and kick­sled­ding through snow-blan­keted re­treats. I’m also no stranger to sports; on the day be­fore my ac­ci­dent, I was over­joyed to be hik­ing through the stun­ningly serene Parc Na­tional du Mont-Or­ford, with azure skies over­head and the warm sun beam­ing down on my face. Un­for­tu­nately, Mother Na­ture was not as pleas­ant the next day. It was an over­cast morn­ing as we be­gan our fat-bik­ing (es­sen­tially a moun­tain bike with thick tires) jour­ney, when very abruptly a snow­storm de­scended upon us. Our guide asked about our com­fort lev­els. “We’re great!” we shouted back with ner­vous but de­ter­mined an­tic­i­pa­tion.

As the wind picked up and snowflakes be­gan to feel like dag­gers pierc­ing my face, I hit a patch of black ice and smacked my head on the ground. Round two: Don­ning snow gog­gles, we were shown how to kick­sled. This seem­ingly in­nocu­ous sport is true to its name: You stand on a sled that has two long, flat blades and pro­pel your­self by kick­ing off with your feet, build­ing enough mo­men­tum to then jump on the blades and ca­reen across ice- and snow-cov­ered paths with ease—or so the the­ory goes. But then that small hill hap­pened. I was glid­ing down, and for a split sec­ond I thought, “Hmm, if I end up hit­ting that tree trunk and fall, it’s gonna be A-okay.” But it was too late. I went crash­ing down; I hit my tail­bone so hard, I thought I had crushed it. And then came that blind­ing, sear­ing pain—I’d split my right leg wide open.

Hours later, I was stitched up and at­tempt­ing to rest at Au­berge West Brome. The staff were kind enough to give me a floor-level suite. At this point, I re­al­ized that I was wal­low­ing in mis­ery. It’s easy to suc­cumb to self-pity when you’re in­jured; I could feel the frog in my throat and at­tempts to choke back tears when I talked to my hus­band over the phone. But blub­ber­ing like a baby would ac­com­plish noth­ing, and then I re­mem­bered all the un­be­liev­able kind­ness that had been shown to me: the pa­tients at the hos­pi­tal who over­heard my story and of­fered to give up their spots so I could jump ahead; the tourism man­ager, who acted as my stand-in mother the EN­TIRE time; and her hus­band, who brought us lunch and din­ner and then drove us to the ho­tel (an hour away from the hos­pi­tal) in the dead of night. It made my heart swell with grate­ful­ness and hap­pi­ness. De­spite my in­ept state, I was de­ter­mined to see and ex­pe­ri­ence more beauty. The next morn­ing, we set out on a blitz over­view. From sip­ping sweet hot co­coa elixir at Musée du Choco­lat in Bromont to soak­ing up Do­maine Les Brome’s 142 hectares of lush vine­yards, this was heav­enly bliss com­pared to yes­ter­day’s hell. As I downed a glass of Réserve XP Ver­sion 6, whose grapes reap the ben­e­fits of this ro­bust and com­plex ter­roir, I toasted the Eastern Town­ships for help­ing me build a strength­ened re­solve and de­velop a new-found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the kind­ness of strangers.

I was glid­ing down, and for a split sec­ond I thought, “Hmm, if I end up hit­ting that tree trunk and fall, it’s gonna be A-okay.” But it was too late.

TRY THE HOT CO­COA AT MUSéE DU CHOCO­LAT IN BROMONT.

STAY Estri­mont Suites and Spa. Sit­u­ated in the Ma­gog-Or­ford re­gion, Estri­mont Suites and Spa fea­tures suites with a fire­place and a large bal­cony that of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views of Mont Or­ford. Bring a bathing suit to take ad­van­tage of its Hy­drother­apy Cen­tre, which in­cludes a Nordic shower, whirlpool baths, a salt­wa­ter pool and an out­door ter­race with a heated pool and re­lax­ation yurt.

EAT Bistro West Brome. Lo­cated in Au­berge West Brome, this bistro puts a spot­light on lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing those from the prop­erty’s own potager gar­den, and fea­tures such sump­tu­ous dishes as slow-cooked veni­son medal­lion with pan-seared foie gras fin­ished with shi­itake and red wine sauce.

DRINK Mi­cro­brasserie La Mem­phré. Over­look­ing Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog, this spot is con­sid­ered a sec­ond home by many; lo­cals fre­quent this wel­com­ing mi­cro­brew­ery and res­tau­rant for its fine lo­cally pro­duced beers. Opt for a flight of its finest, in­clud­ing La Col­lec­tive Red Ale, La Grande Dame Wit­bier and its creamy milk stout.

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