AlexVerbeek
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Coffee Chronicles 1/100: Cafe Les Saison ...

Coffee Chronicles 1/100: Cafe Les Saisons, Chelsea, Canada

Oct 08, 2023


Ottawa has a way of just skipping the shoulder seasons. It felt like summer, with sunny days and nearly 30 degrees Celsius all last week. But the other night, it felt like someone up there opened a tap, and an unstoppable shower poured all night. That night felt like the abrupt end of a long, hot summer that was record-breaking worldwide. 

It is likely that where you live, you may have experienced increased extremes as well, both in frequency and severity. It's good to note that experiencing more extremes means they are less exclusive, but that shouldn't be confused with the popular phrase of entering a "new normal." Rapidly developing climate change and its impacts are not normal. You can't mobilize people into action for anything that is called normal. For that, you need to be alarmed, know what is at stake that you may lose, and know that taking action will lead to a better situation.

That is why I keep writing about those three things.

  • In my newsletters, you will find articles about climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution because I want you to know how we are ruining this planet.

  • But I also write about what is at stake; I share with you articles and photos about the beauty of our world. Often in the form of my personal experiences, walks in nature, or other forms of beauty that I experience, like cities I visited or art I have admired.

  • And that leads me to the third step: after raising the alarm and sharing the beauty at stake, I want you to know that there are solutions and hope.

The Planet newsletter on Substack and my photos & short stories on Patreon

I make use of many forms of social media. Still, I believe that most of you who support me on this Buy Me a Coffee platform will read most of my writing via the Substack newsletter, The Planet, that I started during the pandemic two and a half years ago. 

This year, I added another publication on Patreon. It is for those who want to receive more news in the second of the three categories I mentioned. It is hardly about climate change but mostly about personal experiences, hiking, and visiting places. In short, the beauty that is all around us. It is in a more concise form, more frequent, informal, and more personal and direct. If you are interested, you can have a look at https://www.patreon.com/AlexVerbeek.


As I write, I am in Ottawa, Canada, where autumn is beautiful, colorful, and short-lived. It will quickly be followed by winter, which, in stark contrast, is very long and cold. Winter is so long that it makes springtime too short, which is a pity as it is my favorite season. It is soon pushed away by summer, which is too long, hot, and humid for me.

Two seasons

Like the two main seasons of Ottawa, in the past few years, my life also consisted of two seasons. There is the winter season of staying at home, writing and working behind my desk, and enjoying local walks in nature, and there is the summer season, which is packed with travel and new impressions.

Most of you will have followed some of my journeys between April and September through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Northern Spain, Portugal, Paris, Brussels, Zurich, and the months I spent on the Dutch island. And all summer, in all those places, I felt gratitude at each coffee stop for each cup of coffee you've shared, infusing me with energy and inspiration.

And with these words, after an introduction that I admit has grown much more than I had in mind, I get closer to an idea I wanted to share with you. 

A hundred cafes

While the Buy Me a Coffee (BMaC) platform might not be as conducive to writing as Substack or Patreon, I appreciate the sense of community it fosters, and I find I should more often reach out here as well. It's a bit of a challenge since Substack is my first choice for writing; it is undoubtedly ahead of the curve in technical possibilities and its ease of publishing. Patreon is quickly improving, and I increasingly use it to share my experiences. It recently updated its app and is expanding possibilities to reach you. 

But what about this Buy Me a Coffee platform? I've been itching to create something unique for this exclusive community.

I have been looking for something exclusive that I don't share on Substack and Patreon and can keep short so it doesn't take too much of your reading time and my writing time. So, what I have in mind is the commencement of a new project: a journey to the very places where I enjoy the coffees you so generously provide. 

I hope to share 100 places with you that I have visited and where I drank coffee.

And 100 is ambitious, so I don't know how many years this project will take. Nor do I know what the format will be. It is still a work in progress, an exploration of uncharted territory to develop further in the aroma of countless cafes and their memories; I hope you will enjoy sharing these coffee experiences.

A season for travel and a season for writing

Back to the two-season life I just described: when I travel in summertime, I have more stories to share but lack the time to do so. In the long winter season, it is the other way around: fewer stories to tell but more time to do so. 

Therefore, while Patreon posts are often about what I just experienced during summer travel, I plan to dive deeper into my memories for my Buy Me a Coffee posts. Expect to see photos and short text about memories from longer ago combined with updates from recent coffee breaks.

Let's start today with a recent one: my latest coffee, just three days ago, in Les Saisons, a small cafe in Chelsea. I arrived there after a walk with friends to the Carbide Willson ruins; some of you may remember my story about the fascinating history of this place after I first visited it. If you ever plan to go there, it's good to know that it is a comfortable walk through a beautiful forest, and the waterfall and the ruins together still make a magnificent view. The nature photos in this article are from that walk. 


Chelsea was the most logical stop on the way back to Ottawa, and Les Saisons is always a good stop. The owner, Cindi Minnes, writes on her website: "I used to feel anonymous at other coffee shops, and I did not want that for Chelsea. I wanted a place where people felt at home, welcomed, loved, and cared for." 


She succeeded; it was busy in the cafe with lycra-clad cyclists and hikers returning from the many trails in Gatineau Park. On the walls, you find the work of local artists and announcements of local cultural activities. 


We drank our coffees outside in the garden with beach chairs against the background of the red wooden barn-like structure. It was an excellent cafe to start this series.


Getting to the start of the walk: Drive north in Gatineau Park towards Beech Lake. Park at P11, O'Brien Beech parking lot. From there, it is about half an hour to the ruins, but you can continue further into the park.


Getting to Les Saisons: 232, Chemin Old Chelsea, Chelsea, Quebec, Canada

I would love to hear your comments on this initiative!

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