Sunday, August 31, 2008

You can go home again....

I finished the book Travels with Farley by Clare Mowat a few weeks ago. The book is a memoir and covers the time they lived on the Magdalen Islands in the 1970s. As I read I wondered how she could remember each day with such clarity particularly such details as the weather, temperature and the type of bread she backed. Part way through the book she stated that she had taken over the journaling from Farley; now it was she who was recording the details of their daily lives. So I pulled out a day timer that I brought with me and began to record the details of my days in the event that someday I might expand this blog into a memoir.

The day timer is an unassuming black book with a full page devoted to each day. At the top you can circle a little box with weather symbols in it and add the temperature. There’s a box for your daily priority that I’ve been using to write in the day of the week. My life is not being driven by ‘priorities’ these days!

I thought I’d list my activities for a couple of days to give you a sense of what it’s like to be living in Saint John this summer. And then I’ll talk about my trip to PEI.

Thursday, Aug. 21

· Sunny, 25C
· Hung out with my sister Shirley. She works three days a week now and takes Thursdays and Fridays off. Her husband was away so we had some lovely ‘sister’ time.
· Went out to Shirley’s daughter’s for a quick visit and played with Shirley’s little granddaughter. (McKenzie, almost one)
· Went to visit Mum. Took her out to the central courtyard gardens at the Villa.
· Had supper at Boston Pizza. (Small individual pizzas loaded with feta cheese.)
· Went to see Momma Mia. (OK, so Pierce Brosnan can’t sing but he’s nice to look at.)

Friday, Aug. 22

· Sunny, 25 C
· Took Shirley to catch the ferry to Digby where she was meeting her husband, Dave and attending Dave’s nephew’s wedding.
· Went back to Shirley’s and went back to bed!
· Went to Walmart. Bought a twin air mattress, small ironing board that can be stowed in the van and some bio oil that my cousin Barb swears will reduce the wrinkles on your face!
· Drove up the Saint John river after lunch and spent the afternoon with my long-time friend and maid-of-honour, Judy. Judy oozes creativity: she is an accomplished painter, sews, knits, crochets, cooks, can strip down a car engine and wield a hammer like a journeyman carpenter. I am in awe of her many talents.
· Visited Mum. Went through the book Sails of Fundy with her and we checked off all the ships that were built by the Suthergreens in Advocate Harbour

And then there is PEI. There is a reason it is called the Garden of the Gulf: it is green and luscious and, for the most part, manicured. Even modest homes are surrounded by a riot of colourful gardens.

I drove over the Confederation Bridge and the van was high enough that I could look out over the sides of the bridge and see water stretching off to the horizon on both sides. It takes about ten minutes to drive across the bridge and I drove along with a big smile plastered on my face. I have crossed this bridge before but you can’t see over the concrete abutments when you are seated in a car so this crossing was special.

I meandered across the island on highway 13 to Cavendish. I have always loved the town of Hunter River and was delighted to see that it hadn’t changed since I was last there about ten years ago. I spent the night in Cavendish in a KOA campground.

The first time I camped at Cavendish, I slept in a tent in a field. I don’t remember that there were any real campgrounds there then. That was in 1972, the year that Leslie got lost on Cavendish beach. I remember the terror and panic I felt then as if it were yesterday. She was just seven and had taken the wrong path coming back from the bathroom. The paths ran among the dunes and they must have looked all the same to a seven-year-old. Today there are boardwalks to walk on to save the dunes and most of the area is a national park. I’m glad I was able to experience the magnificence of this part of the country while it was less endangered by human beings.

I had lunch in North Rustico. Lobster, of course. When I was there ten years ago I was with my mother, my Uncle Phil and Aunt Jean. They were all lively and engaging then. Uncle Phil, the last of my father’s brothers, died several years ago. Aunt Jean and Mum are both in nursing homes in various stages of dementia. Old age is not for the faint of heart.

The highlight of my PEI trip was a night at the Confederation Arts Centre to see the British Invasion: America Strikes Back. I had seen the first installment of this high-energy musical production in Calgary about four years ago and met my nephew Jeff’s father, Terry Hatty, for the first time. That’s another whole story. Terry is one of the featured performers in this production too and I met him after the show. (I hung out at the stage door until he was ready to leave!) We had a nice but short visit.

The next day I stopped in Victoria Harbour for lunch at the Orient Hotel and Tea Room. (yes, there is an Orient Hotel in Victoria Harbour, honest!) Victoria Harbour is a beautiful little town on the seacoast. If you ever go there, be sure to have lunch at the Hotel and have the sticky date pudding with caramel sauce for dessert. – it is worth every calorie!

I stopped at two Hamptons on the way home, one in PEI where I went to an antique shop, the other in NB where I visited for a couple of hours with my aunt and uncle, Marilyn and Jim McKenzie. Jim is the prime genealogist in the family and I had picked up a copy of the Sails of Fundy for him, too. And he was delighted to get it.

So there you have it, life in the Maritimes. Who says you can’t go home again?

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