About 45 kilometres northwest of Nanaimo is a small town (pop. 1,600) that has gained a reputation as a must-visit spot for tourists and islanders alike. How did Coombs manage to earn such status? Well, the goats are a big draw, as is the jam-packed country store stocked with everything you need—and a whole bunch of cool stuff you probably don’t. And of course there’s the food, from farm-fresh, healthy fare to tasty treats.
If you cruise into town from the south end, however, your first encounter with Coombs might get you wondering if you’ve just time warped back to the early 1970s. Kumbaya indeed.
We’re now in late January, and the Christmas holidays are well behind us. Ornaments, wreaths, and bells have all been packed up and stored away till next season. But out this way, Nanaimo continues to “jingle”; in fact, the city jingles year-round. For as I’ve learned in my local travels, the delightfully named Jingle Pot Road appears here, there, and (it seems) almost everywhere. Drive along the Nanaimo Parkway and you’ll cross Jingle Pot Road not once, but twice. The road loops around. It morphs from other roads. And at one corner of town, it even meets itself.
I grew up in the suburbs north of Montreal, and my concept of Christmas was set at an early age. Snow was a given. We never had to dream of a white Christmas when I was a kid—we just looked out the window. The season meant chilly temperatures and bundling up with a scarf, a knitted toque—with a pom-pom, of course—and woolen mittens. (Gloves? You josh.) Christmas also meant brightly colored lights strung around fir trees, windows, and eaves. And…well, there were a lot of things that made Christmas Christmas when I was growing up. Continue reading