Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Honey, I'm home!

Day 5: Brier Island to Comeauville
Mileage: six-hundred-sumptin

I woke on my birthday to a rooster's crow and then the familiar sound of grass being tugged and munched. Sheep were grazing a few feet from my window. After some pancakes and mild swearing over lack of Internet, I was on my way.
I had officially hit the end of the road.
The trip back to Digby is impressively efficient. The ferries have it timed so that if you drive straight across one island, the next ferry is docked and waiting for you. Pretty cool, as there was a woman on the ferry on her way to work. But then I thought about what a miserable hike that would be in bad weather.

Heading south from Digby, I officially enter one of Nova Scotia's Acadian regions. There are a handful, but this one probably gets some of the most "play."
Here is lower Nova Scotian history in a wicked brief nutshell: Nomadic tribes of Mi'kmaq Indians were here first. Then the French arrived, and we were all hanging out just fine. But then the Brits inserted themselves and were all, "Who you gonna be loyal to?" And the French, who were happy being left alone were all, "Hey, man, we don't want any trouble and we don't especially care for kings. If it's okay with you, we'd like to just keep farming here." But the Brits were all, "Not cool! Give us your guns and sign this allegiance to the British king!" And the French were all, "Non." And so the Brits kicked us out. Burned our villages and put us on boats as part of the Great Deportation in the late 1700s. That's how a lot of us ended up in New England.

After so many years, a lot of us came back. And some of us, frankly, just came out of hiding. The Brits were like, "Here, have this shitty land many miles away from the fertile farm land you once owned. And hey, you Indians, you stay put, ya hear?" We were pissed. The Mi-kmaq were all "Dafuq?" And meanwhile, Brits started shipping black slaves up from the States with promises of freedom and land in exchange for British loyalty. That last part went especially horribly. I found a book of letters written by former slaves in Nova Scotia to the king--Heartbreaking pleas for help ("Your amazing-ass royal Majesty, we'd like some motherf*cking soap. And a sweater--yeah, a sweater would be nice because this place is ridik." --paraphrased). Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill is an excellent book all-around, but includes this history from a black perspective.
Back to me. 

So I headed through the towns from which my family hails. First stop: Gilbert's Cove.

Then to the first Acadian burial ground. 
Comeaus in the haus! Woot!
I don't know where they're hiding Felix, but he's hella old.
There was a serious church pissing contest going on at some point, as they are GRAND. Anyone who knows me knows I don't give a hoot about all that stuff, but I stopped at each one because they're a bit awe-inspiring and there are written details about how they were made, which is cool.

And then this one...
Yes, thank you, I know this is not a church.
But I wish someone had been around to take a picture of me crawling into this.
About 10 years ago, I was planning a trip up here with an old boyfriend. My grandmother was still alive. We had an exchange:

Nana: Make sure to stop at the big wooden church.
Me: What's the name of it?
Nana: It's just the big wooden church.
Me: All churches are big, and most are wooden. How the hell am I supposed to know which one?
Nana: Stop at the big wooden church.
Me: Whatever, lady.

The old bf and I drove through the area shortly thereafter and came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the "highway" when we saw this:
Oh... it's only the tallest wooden church in North America...
It's awfully . . . busy inside.
PS, those columns are entire trees.
Next door is the Universite Ste Anne, the only French-speaking university in NS. When I rolled through here last time, a kind woman in the library gave me the link I needed to figure out my lineage all the way back to 17th century France. And they're happy to do that sort of thing. And recently they installed a visitor center, Rendez-vous de la Baie. So I be-bopped in and checked out their cool history museum-type thing.
Yup, definitely family.
My, what big hands you have.
I've only made one blanket--THAT explains everything.
In my family's case, it was a hat factory in Haverhill.
"Cy could travel through the air on a piece of tree bark ... to ... Boston for parties."
Cy was badass.
When seven sisters become "sisters," I feel a little weird about the whole thing.
Anyway, that was very cool, and I learned a lot. I love the old photos. And it was nice to see some pics of the Mi'kmaq, as there was some intermarriage along the line.

But then it was time to check in at the inn.
Why yes, I WILL take a room with an ocean view.

Happy birthday to me!
The woman who runs the joint--I need to figure out how to politely ask her name a 17th time--is great. We talked for hours last night. We talked about the history here, where to go/not go (right at the horse), which exits have good coffee (exit 10 west of Halifax). And I like how, when she agrees, she says, "Way." You know, instead of "Wee."

And from the back deck, I watched the sun go down and wrote for a while. And I told myself I should think about what it means to turn thirty-blah and what I want the next year to be about. But then I said fuck it and just sat back and watched the sun go down.


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