Whenever I am in Canada, I enjoy taking a trip ‘down east’, because I’ve got lots of good reasons to spend some time there!
This past summer, I made my plans to be in the Annapolis Valley by July 7th, because there is a very special birthday to celebrate on that day. Whenever possible, I delight in joining my cousins to honour their mother, my Aunt Vivian as the one and only nonagenarian on my side of the family. Last year, there was a big bash for her 90th, which coincided with the unanticipated arrival of Hurricane Arthur. However, his unwelcome presence did not deter any of the 100+ guests from making their way through the storm to be there for her memorable day. Despite the inclement weather, it was a joyous occasion that I will never forget! You can read about it here. This
year, per Vivian’s wishes, the gathering for her 91st was more intimate and family centred, and I was honoured to be a part of it two years in a row!
However, before I made my way to attend that special day, I first visited with my environmental health specialist, Dr. Jonathan Fox, M.D., whose office is located at Integrated Chronic Care Service in Fall River, a short drive from the Stanfield International Airport, which is north of Halifax. It’s always extremely helpful to consult with him, as his counsel helps me to better manage my environmental-based illnesses, whether in I am in Canada or Dominica. This facility is the only one of its kind in Canada, and I feel very fortunate to benefit from the services that cater to my specific health challenges. I am also grateful to Dr. Fox for his ongoing care through phone consultations, which aid me in maintaining an improved quality of life wherever I am situated.
After this important appointment, I drove down the highway en route to Wolfville, to rendez-vous with my super hosts, cousin
Dwight and his wife Patricia for my first Nova Scotia supper since last year. Of course, it included fish! Their home is a safe haven for me when I am in their area, as they are well versed in dealing with allergies and
sensitivities. It really helps to have their understanding and support and makes travel much easier when away from my home environment. Unfortunately, there is considerable pesticide application throughout the Annapolis Valley at that time of year, as it is a major ‘bread basket’ in Canada with its ubiquitous fertile soil and ideal growing conditions. Thankfully, my ‘relations’ are big on ‘organic’, ‘free-range’ and ‘non-toxic’, so I am definitely in the best company, for which I am very grateful!
As usual, there were loads of incredible meals – most with seafood, as there is nothing like the ‘fresh fish’ that is readily available in this east coast province. I took my aunt on a road trip or two, to check out places once familiar and to visit some other relatives too. Then I was treated to a couple of excursions by my cousin Greg. He has a knack for venturing off of the main route to explore out-of-the-way places.
I was very lucky to be along for a couple of those rides. The most memorable of all was the day trip to Bear River and Digby, in the western part of the ‘Valley’. The terrain is decidedly different from the eastern area, as it
becomes more densely forested and closely skirts the Annapolis River which empties into St. Mary’s Bay on the Bay of Fundy. I was particularly intrigued by the abundance of artistic creativity, as evidenced in the shops and galleries around somewhat secluded Bear River. And at
Digby, I enjoyed a feed of deep water scallops,for which the town is famous, as well as a tour of the historic and stately Digby Pines
Resort, where Aunt Vivian once worked in the early 1940’s.
On another outing, Greg took Vivian and me around the world-renowned Grand Pré area near Wolfville, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The dykes, which hold back the strong tides which prevail in the nearby New Minas Basin were first constructed by the Acadians in the 17th century and continue to protect valuable farmland to this day. Some of my Nova Scotia ‘roots’ originate in this area, so I always feel immediately at home when I visit this beautiful locale.
On some other occasions, I felt completely awed by the extent of my connections to the central Annapolis Valley. I really enjoyed the get-togethers, where I got to see and speak to several generations of my extended family – all the way to cousins three times removed. I can imagine Aunt Vivian’s tremendous delight at being able to enjoy and experience the accomplishments and experiences of her children, grand children and great-grandchildren. I am so happy for her!
My week with the relations was short, but definitely sweet. I parted with assurances that I would return as soon as possible, although likely in the fall when the crops are in and exposures to pesticides would be greatly reduced. Autumn in Nova Scotia is generally gorgeous, with colourful leaves and bountiful harvests. Sounds like a plan!
Then I headed back down the highway to Halifax, my home of about 12 years –
a long time ago! It’s such a lovely and lively east coast port, which brings forth wonderful memories of my time well spent there – learning, living and working. Despite the fact that I became very ill there,I consider this vibrant city as the place where I ‘grew up’ after graduate school and pursued a career as a government librarian and .seriously developed my leisure pursuits as a singer.
Nowadays, I like to wander around the bustling city centre, which has changed considerably, as now there are multiple high
rise buildings in the business district. In contrast, serenity is easily encountered in its beautiful Victorian era-designed Public Gardens and the naturally sculpted Point Pleasant Park at the
entrance to Halifax Harbour. My tour of my second home town was a little short this time, and allowed for only a brief visit with an old
friend from my days at Dalhousie University’s now-named School of Information Management. It’s always a treat to catch up on news as the years fly by.
As I headed back to airport to begin my retreat in the wilderness north of Kingston Ontario, I acknowledged that a longer return visit to Halifax and the Annapolis Valley will be a priority on my next trip down east!