A Perfect Welcome Home
11 August 2008 | Yarmouth, NS, Canada
Beth - 16 C mornings, warmer afternoons
A couple of things made the last few days interesting.
I'm sure we've all experienced the "Do you know...?" question that comes along so often when people travel to other places. Like - Oh you're from Ottawa - do you know my cousin in Vancouver? We generally laugh it off - Canada is a big country, but it seemed pretty small on Wednesday afternoon.
Jim and I grew up and worked in Nova Scotia (with rare Yarmouth visits) until 1991 - 17 years ago, when we moved to British Columbia. We sailed away from Canada last August - almost a year ago. Yet when we pulled into Yarmouth Harbour and picked up a mooring ball, Jim spied a name on it and said, "Oh - I know that guy!" Small world!
On Thursday, we got well and truly welcomed back into the fold by long time friends of the Bissell family. Bill and Frances and son-in-law, Arthur, picked us up and drove to Lake Annis - the Crowell family neighbourhood - where we spent 3 most wonderful days. Jim's mother and Frances were kindred spirits from girlhood until Mary Ellen passed on several years ago, and although we kept in touch over the years, we hadn't seen a lot of them. We sure made up for it this trip, spending family time with them, their daughters and sons-in-law and grandchildren and cousins and assorted extended family members. It was like a great big Nova Scotian embrace.
We dined well on delicious gingerbread cookies and roast beef and BBQ fare and a fabulous new dessert - Blueberry Bangbelly! It's an old New Brunswick recipe for blueberry cake that Frances has been making for years; lacking any other reason for the name, we decided it must be because we felt like giving a good belly smack and saying' "MMMmmm" after a piece of it. We slept soundly (at Christine and Art's pretty summer abode) walked the gravel roads and leafy trails, jumped every time the resident wild turkey decided to announce his presence, poked our toes in the lake but declined to immerse our whole selves. We cheered the Crowell family canoeists as they raced around the lake, picking up clues in the annual orienteering canoe challenge. We applauded Patrick and Christine's awards in the flower contest and wished them all well in the upcoming photo contest.
We joined Christine and Art on a tour of the impressive Yarmouth County museum, including a retrospective show of Bill's paintings, and I curled up with a copy of his newly published book "The Artist and the Colonel" - about Mabel Killam Day (painter) and Frank Parker Day (author of Rockbound) both of whom lived "just up the road".
Jim and I were most impressed with the sense of community in this little place, a half hour from Yarmouth, where 5th and 6th generation families gather together to play and share with each other, and to enjoy and assist one another. Even though miles separate them during parts of the year, the summer visits and the strong emotional bonds keep them well connected all the time. They are fine role models for us in Canada, as we remember the strong sense of family we found and admired in the Bahamas.
We returned to Madcap on Saturday, and once back in Yarmouth, we enjoyed a couple of meals at Rudder's in the big yellow building on the waterfront, one of them with my cousin, Marilyn, and her grandson Ryan. It was a treat to see them and to spend some time reconnecting and filling in gaps in our family stories.
Yarmouth is a good stop for cruisers bound to or from Maine, as well as those who ply the Bay of Fundy waters between here and Saint John, NB. Genial and helpful Paul keeps a close eye on things at Killam Wharf. There are several mooring balls in the harbour, and while the present dock space is limited, new ones are almost ready for those who like to be tied to a dock. Both Men's and Women's washrooms are clean and equipped with showers and a washer and dryer.
We decided to leave Madcap here for a few more days and travel by car to Amherst to visit my dad and meet up with our son, Liam, who drove down from Ottawa. While we're there, we'll fit in a quick visit with Mary Beth and with Jim's sister, Mary Jean and family.
Now that we're here in Nova Scotia, we're feeling not so much despondency that our 16-month sailing adventure is winding down, but a sense of coming back around the circle. We all know that circles don't end - they keep going around or spiraling off in new directions. That's a good feeling.