Friday, August 26, 2016

Fifty to Sixty in Ten Years Flat

Happy 60th Birthday to my Nova Scotia Country Boy! 

We met just as you turned 50 and what an adventure the past ten years have been. 
Can't wait to see how exciting your sixties are!
Thank you for letting me write about you and in the coming decade,
I promise not to shoot you or drive your tractor in the ditch or bring home a pair of goats
-- although I think my fingers are crossed on that last one. 
"Never trust a man who don't like to fish,
ain't ever got mud on the tires,
can't shoot a gun,
or won't shake your Daddy's hand."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

These Little Piggies Went Floating

Just me
in the sea
with the dogs
on the shore
keeping watch
while I
wander through the water
like a captured cloud
like a tossed tennis ball
neither flotsam
nor jetsam
just floating parts
and jiggly bits
spending an hour
buoyed by
the ripply sea. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Long Live the King

We picked up our new rooster on Saturday afternoon. He's a barred Rock, same as Brewster, and likely going to be just as good-natured. I named him Andre.
"Why does our rooster have a French name?" asked the country boy who suggested we name our new rooster "Brew Too".
My friend Gail crowed when I told her about our new rooster.
"Andre Poulet!" she laughed. And so he is.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It Takes A Village To Make A Home

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, August 17, 2016, by Sara Jewell.

Sisters Freddi Very & Sharon Very Chamberlain feel right at home in Pugwash.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to renovate a landmark.
In the summer of 2000, two American women with family ties to Cumberland County bought the former Tide’s Inn/grocery store/laundromat at the junction of Durham and Water Streets in Pugwash. Sisters Freddi Very of Vermont and Sharon Very Chamberlain of Louisiana (both formerly of Massachusetts) bought it on a whim, lured to the area by the fact their maternal great-grandparents were born in Five Islands and enticed by the ridiculously low Canadian dollar that doubled the money with which they planned to buy a cottage.
“It was the last day of our vacation when we came to the village,” Sharon says. “We were having lunch when my son, Sean, pointed up the street and said, ‘There’s a house for sale’. We looked at it and that was it.”
Not put off by the rickety ladder they had to climb in order to get inside, they fell in love with the potential they saw in the huge three-storey building and signed the papers as they headed back to the States.

Sixteen summers later, the sisters invite their visitor to sit in the comfortable, refurbished parlour at the front of the house overlooking Durham Street and the post office. All the work to restore “the old Tide’s Inn”, as they call it, including new wiring and new plumbing and the restoration of as much of the original woodwork as possible, is finally completed.
“This is the first year I’ve come without a trailer,” says Freddi, a recently retired teacher.
Freddi and Sharon (a former travel agent turned accountant) had no choice but to spend their precious summer vacations working; after all, they’d bought a highly-visible, dilapidated building with a stunning view of the inner harbour hidden behind five-foot tall weeds. Along with the dedicated tradespeople they hired, what kept them from giving up on the gruelling renovation was the village.
Freddi says people would come in to say thanks for taking the house on, even though it looked pretty awful outside for a couple of years.
“A guy once pulled up when I was hanging out a window and he hollered, ‘They’re going to name a street after you guys’,” she remembers. “The community has been really embracing.”
Apparently, “We’d really like to see inside” is the most common phrase the sisters have heard in the last fifteen years.
“Everyone who comes in has a story,” Freddi says. “People are really invested in this house.”

What has touched them most are the kindnesses extended to them over the years, like receiving a sympathy card from the women who work at the post office when their mother died in 2006 or being handed tickets to the Legion’s lobster dinner as an enticement to put down their tools.
Even living next door to the salt mine’s harbour terminal has made them feel like part of the village, Freddi says.
“The guys next door will come over and say, ‘Welcome home. How long you home for?’ and that’s so nice. Even though I have a home in Vermont and Sharon has a home in Louisiana, this is home, too.”

The old Tide's Inn returned to its former glory.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The King Is Dead

That title may seem dramatic for a chicken but this was no ordinary chicken. Our Brewster died yesterday and we have lost a very fine rooster. After eight years -- which my husband believes is longevity for a rooster -- we woke up this morning without hearing his early morning crowing and we let the hens out of their coop without our big fella leading the charge through the pedway.
When I got home from church yesterday, Dwayne said, "I have to tell you something. Brewster isn't doing well. He didn't leave the coop yesterday, he was down on the floor, so I moved him out into the hospital."
The hospital is the outer coop where our injured chicken, Sasha, now lives.
"I didn't tell you because I didn't want to upset you."
My lessons in life-and-death in the country have yet to overcome my country boy's instinct to protect me. And he did upset me anyway because I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Brewie. By the time I made my way out to the coop, thinking Brew was just sitting around because his arthritic legs finally gave out on him, he was dead. At least his death was swift and he did not suffer; he also spared Dwayne the agony of having to shoot a friend. I can be glad he lived to see another summer after struggling through the winter with his stiff and twisted toes.
I would have liked to have said goodbye to Brewster, the only rooster I've known in this wonderful country adventure. I would like to have told him he was a good rooster because he really was. 

He was good in three ways:
1) He was handsome and well-built and he had a beautiful voice. I think he used to thank me when I brought treats out to the pen. He was good-natured with everyone.
2) He took good care of his hens. When I fed them bread, he'd make noise to tell them where the pieces were and if I handed him a piece of his own, he'd often drop it for the ladies instead of eating it himself.
3) He was friendly and gentle. We could hand feed him. We could walk into the coop and the pen without fear he'd attack us. We could actually have a conversation with Brewie; we'd talk to him and he'd make quiet rooster sounds in response (different than hen clucking).
Oh, I'm going to miss hearing his voice.
Brewster was the perfect rooster, and  he's left some very large spurs to fill. I'm afraid he may have set the bar too high for our new rooster. There has to be a rooster, a flock of hens needs their becombed and bewattled leader, but how can anyone new compete with a rooster who could hold his own in conversation? Who was once the male model for a painting class? Who was a literary critic who recommended books?

So I am upset both by losing Brewster and by not getting the chance to talk with him before he died. He's been our friend for eight years, having arrived as a pullet the summer we built our chicken coop. He was very much a part of making my dream of chickens and a coop in the country come true so he's been as much a part of this rural life since the beginning as my husband! And just like my husband, I've written columns about him.
Which makes me sadder yet: Brewster didn't live long enough to recommend the Field Notes book.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sigh of Relief

I think it's safe to say now that the two hatchlings of 2016 are flying that we survived the summer of 2016!
As far as we can tell, the parents were vigilant this summer, never leaving the nest and the babies unsupervised until they could fly; the eagle invaded our airspace -- barely -- several times only to be driven off by the parents.
This could be evidence that birds learn; that this is the pair who nested her last year and that they remembered the massacre and adjusted their own behaviour accordingly the following season.
Learning from the past -- if birds can do it, why can't humans? Ah, but as harsh as it is, this is the reason why we prefer nature.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Wildlife Worry

There's a new kid on the block -- or two new kids.
About a month ago, my husband spied this doe with two newborn fawns but he didn't see them again until the other day. The doe is very skittish so I almost missed getting the photo.
Dwayne is a bit concerned that these babies were born so late and are so young and small heading into fall and winter. I'm going to try not to worry about that but I suspect there will be apples dumped in the field by October.
And more "No Hunting" signs this season.