The Bicycle

Adrienne Wood’s story By Fadila Chater 

First she felt the impact. Then came the pain. Finally she saw blood. Eight-year-old Adrienne Wood was biking down to the Windsor waterfront, eager to join her teammates at the Windsor Canoe Club, when suddenly, she stumbled. The fall took a chunk out of her knee. She knew she needed help. Resilient, like most kids who grew up playing outdoors, she picked her bike up by the handlebars and wheeled it over to the nearest business, the town optometrist.  

“I’m bleeding!” she yelled as she burst through the door.  

Though she vaguely knew Dr. MacDuff or his receptionist, she felt like they would surely take care of her. And they did. They cleaned her up, slapped a Band-Aid on her knee and gave her a hug. 

Less sore from the tumble, Adrienne rode her bike down to Lake Pisiquid, where she spent the rest of the day hanging out with her friends, snacking on Timbits and paddling down the lake. It was the summer of 1992. An era in which neighbours knew neighbours on a first name basis. If you misbehaved in public, your parents would likely know about it by dinner time. Though it was years ago, summers surrounded by friends and neighbours are the ones Adrienne remembers best. 

“We had lots of fun,” she recalls, sitting behind her office desk, years later. “I grew up on the lake. I paddled all my summers on the lake, which was really fun.”  

The tireless summer days spent snacking on candy from Kamile’s Market, riding her bike down to the lake and swatting mosquitos are behind her now. Today, Adrienne is a naturopathic doctor. After high school she studied naturopathic medicine in Vancouver. One day she and her partner decided to sell everything they owned and move to New Zealand, where her brother lived at the time. Then they were on the move again, this time living out of a van for six months.  

“I woke up on my thirtieth birthday and I was like ‘I’m ready to go home.’”  

Adrienne, a world traveller, had lived in Germany, New Zealand and Australia. But home had always been Windsor.  

“It’s about getting perspective,” she says. “I feel like you have to leave something to really appreciate it.” 

In 2014, she came back to the place where it all began. She opened her own naturopathic practice on Water Street, where for the last six years she’s been treating and curing illnesses and ailments holistically. When she isn’t in her office, Adrienne sits as chair of the Windsor Business Enhancement Society, a group that aims to maintain downtown Windsor’s historic charm and welcoming atmosphere. 

“We always had that idea of supporting small business instilled in us through dad’s store,” she says. 

Willard Wood, known locally for his years of community involvement, founded Moe’s Music Place in the heart of downtown Windsor. Through him, Adrienne grew up knowing the true meaning of community. Willard instilled a respect for one’s community in his children and everyone he met. It was no coincidence that when Adrienne returned to Windsor, she wanted to do all that she could to maintain and create that same sense of belonging and community she knew growing up. She realized that what Windsor needed was a community farmers’ market. 

Around the same time, Adrienne started hearing about the Happy Community Project. At first it was intrigue that led her to the Project’s public meetings. But then she and a group of residents started to entertain the idea of a community famers’ market.  

“We just started to get it off the ground and the Happy Community Project was talking about the same thing,” she says. “It gave us more traction and it gave us more volunteers, more people got involved because of that platform.” 

Adrienne and the other farmers’ market champions combined their efforts and in eight short months, the Avon Community Farmers’ Market was up and running. 

“Once we merged together then it was a very cohesive group effort,” she says. “It wasn’t an easy task, necessarily, but I think everybody wanted the same outcome, so everybody worked very hard to get it off the ground.” 

Finally, the day arrived: June 3, 2018. The market went off without a hitch. Hundreds of people walked through Victoria Park, sharing baked goods, buying greens from local farmers and making connections with perfect strangers. The Avon Community Farmers’ Market was a huge success. Everything went according to plan. And everyone was excited for the following Sunday, when they would do it all over again. And then the unexpected happened. 

On June 4, Adrienne’s father lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. 

“I had to step away from a lot of things and be with my family,” Adrienne says. Her voice starts to crack, a tear rolls down her cheek. She takes a moment to gather herself. Devastated, I offer my condolences and apologize for asking. 

“It’s okay, I cried all over this town, so it’s okay,” she laughs, wiping away her tears. “With naturopathic medicine, your emotions are part of who you are, and I think that it’s really important to allow yourself to feel them.” 

It was her father that taught her to get involved in her community to take pride in her hometown. And though I can’t begin to imagine her grief, I can see a spark in her that encourages her to continue the work her father instilled in her. I never met Willard, but I imagine he’d be proud to see his daughter’s accomplishments as a leader in her community, starting with her involvement in the Avon Community Farmers’ Market. 

“The Happy Community Project gave people a platform,” she says. “There’s a lot of great people in this community, and maybe they didn’t know how to get involved, or where to start or what to do. I think that it was the magnet that pulled all these people out of the woodwork and pulled people together.”  

 Listening to Adrienne talk about overcoming the challenges of the previous year, I am reminded that Windsor, has indeed taken a step in the right direction. When she needed help with the farmers’ market, Adrienne counted on her community to come up with solutions. When her father passed away, her community was there to comfort and console her. Windsor, like any happy community, is a place in which you can fall off your bike knowing someone will be there to pick you up. 

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