Photo by Ed Gaucher

Keith L. Walker

St. Bernard, Nova Scotia

St. Bernard Blather

Updated at random.


Much has happened since the last update. Furniture has been moved; new rugs have been laid; the lawn has been mowed; fences have been built.

On the Canada Day weekend, I built a fence around a large part of the lawn for Larkin to run in. We wanted to have it ready sooner, but I had to special-order the materials. The fence is four-foot-high wire mesh, supported on metal T-posts. We have found that that style is almost invisible. Since Larkin isn't interested in jumping, it is quite adequate to ensure her safety.

When I had it finished, we opened the gate to the new area and let her out. You should have seen her go! It was the first time she had been able to run free in a couple of months. She ran about eight laps around the garden, going flat-out. She cornered around the shrubs at 50 km/h, leaning into the turns at a 45 degree angle and spraying divots in all directions. And the best thing was seeing the big goofy grin on her face as she thundered past us!

The fence had to include a gate for the lawn mower. Mowing the lawn here is more than vanity. It is the only way to keep the ticks under control. Every time Larkin comes in, we have to check her for ticks. Often, she has several. We check ourselves regularly, too. The ticks live in shrubs and tall grass, so keeping the lawn under control is a necessity.

The weather, however, makes lawn mowing a challenge. We have had a lot of rainy weather; the locals are all complaining about the unseasonably wet spring. Temperatures, however, have been warm, making for ideal grass-growing weather. The moment the grass dries out enough to be mowed, everyone is out mowing their lawns, because you never know when you might get another opportunity. I am going to have to get a bagging attachment for the mower, because raking up the long grass after it has been cut is a major chore.

We have a good hardware store and a small supermarket in Weymouth. Our main shopping destination is Digby, which has a larger hardware store, a Canadian Tire, an Atlantic Superstore and Sobey's. For specialty items, we have to go to Yarmouth, an hour away on the interesting old highway or 45 minutes on the boring new highway, or New Minas, an hour and 45 minutes up the Annapolis Valley. Anything else, we order over the Internet, and it gets delivered by UPS (typically with the signature UPS hole in the box, but no merchandise damaged yet).

We have done a little bit of exploring around the area. If we are feeling nostalgic for the hippiedom of Denman Island, Bear River is a short drive away. There are lots of artists and crafts people there, and they have a very nice gallery displaying their wares. We have also visited Annapolis Royal, the oldest permanent European settlement in North America, where they have a big outdoor farmers' market every Saturday, as well as a good health food store. There is also a very active theatre there. What a treat it will be to be able to stay to the end of an evening play without having to rush to catch the last ferry home!

All along the "French Shore", they have a series of musical performances running all summer, called "Musique de la Baie". ("La Baie" is Baie Ste. Marie, St. Mary's Bay) Every evening of the week, there is a performance at a different venue. Our local restaurant in Belliveau's Cove has its session on Tuesday evenings. Last Tuesday, we went there for supper and music. Supper in these parts is slim pickin's: the menus are mostly seafood and quite un-vegan. However, we had some good fries and great apple pie (no ice cream), and the music made up for it.

There used to be a series of classical music concerts in the big stone church in St. Bernard, which we were looking forward to attending. However, there is no sign of a concert schedule this year, either on the Internet or in pamhlet form. We suspect that the Harper Government (as they like to be called) cencelled the federal grant that had supported the series in the past.

The Acadian shore is an interesting drive. Though divided into named regions (probably the original Catholic parishes), of which St. Bernard is one and Belliveau's Cove another, it is really one continuous village most of the way to Yarmouth. Economically, the area is depressed because the tourism industry dried up when the ferry from Bar Harhour, Maine, to Yarmouth stopped running a couple of years ago. The only industries left are fishing and shipbuilding. Yet, the houses are all well-kept, with neatly mown lawns. You can sense a feeling of community pride. Statistically, the area has the lowest crime rate in Nova Scotia.

The French language spoken here is a unique dialect. It is much more anglicised than other French dialects (I have heard, "C'est vraiment weird, ça!"), yet it includes many archaic words from 17th-century French. The rhythm of the language is totally unlike Quebec French, so if I didn't already know what language it was, I wouldn't be able to identify it from hearing it.

Wendy's parents came down for an overnight visit last month, which was a nice treat. They were happy to be able to see our house and yard. Wendy's father came down again yesterday with a friend of his from Germany who was on vacation. Both were brief visits, but very pleasant.

Today, Wendy and I walked down to the beach at low tide. Our 60-foot stretch of waterfront requires a serious bushwhack to get to it, so we walked down the road to a semi-public beach access and walked back along the rocks to see our beach. We located it by GPS and determined that cutting a trail to the beach would be quite feasible. Project #273.

The pictures in this diary entry are: 1. the living room, with antique mantlepiece and modern wood-burning fireplace; 2. the living room, looking the other way, through the kitchen to the dining room; 3. the dining room; 4. the sun room; 5. "our" beach; 6. a load of firewood being delivered, with Wendy's father looking on.

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