On our way out to Michigan this December, we stopped for the night in Niagara Falls, Ontario. City of lights, mist, honeymooners, casinos, and steak houses.
It’s not our usual type of haunt, but we discovered by accident four years ago, on a similar trip, when we were in search of a room and found bargain basement rates at these near-empty high-rise hotels in late January, that you can get a room, 25 floors up, with a huge window overlooking the falls.
And from that window, you can watch all night long, as the natural light goes down and the city lights come on, watch the garish colors projected onto the falls themselves, watch the mist rise up in reds, purples, greens, blues, yellows.
If you tire of watching the falls and lights, here’s a game you can play:
Watch the right-hand lane of the road that runs parallel to the river below the falls. Count how many cars are parked illegally along that road, pulled to the railing or sidewalk, hazard lights blinking. How many cars can you collect before the police car arrives, politely pulls up behind the last car in the row, turns on its lights, and waits until the driver notices and leaves? Watch this process repeat until each car is convinced to move along and the roadside is empty. Now, guess how long it will take until a new car decides to stop and be the first to park along the now-clear edge. Use your mental powers to try to convince cars to stop. Can you capture three, ten, nineteen? Keep watching, and giggling about this with your daughter until your eyes get droopy. The game will go on without you.
If you’re sleepless for any reason, you can watch the falls lights turn off at midnight.
Hours later, still awake, watch the sun creep up over the river and illuminate the mist from behind.
All night long, that water has been rushing over the edge. Even when you couldn’t see it. Even when you aren’t there. Even when you’ve checked out of the hotel, gotten into your car, and found the road leading west.
The Niagara River
the river were
a floor, we position
our table and chairs
upon it, eat, and
As it moves along,
calmly as though
dining room paintings
were being replaced—
the changing scenes
along the shore. We
do know, we do
know this is the
Niagara River, but
it is hard to remember
what that means.
–From The Niagara River by Kay Ryan, published by Grove Press. Copyright © 2005 by Kay Ryan