It was this Do Make Say Think song that played when I began writing this post. Listen to it while you read – it might [somewhat] convey the peaceful mood I was in at the time. They’re also Canadian.
Everything I own and know, I brought along to Nova Scotia – overpacked suitcases of underwear to years of accumulated baggage - no monster was left behind in my Montreal apartment’s closet.
There is no backspace / delete / enter when writing a post on a paper notebook; I’m QWERTY savvy but I can’t hold a BIC ballpoint pen straight. There’s a black cat basking in the sun, there’s my wife reading a magazine, there’s the St. Mary’s River Lodge owner entertaining a guest. No one seems to mind the sound of the ballpoint scribbling funny-looking words on this sheet, no matter how hard I press down on the pen, no matter how fast I write. Picture a Merchant-Ivory film. Remove the English countryside. Remove the fog. Remove the stuffy accents. Remove the uncomfortable clothing. Remove Anthony Hopkins… That’s me on the production set.
There are two family houses at the top of Third Street. One of the Victorian homes has been converted into flats. Lodging is affordable in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia; rent is cheaper than any Montreal subsidized housing program. Before settling down in Sherbrooke, Josh – one of the tenants – travelled across Canada, playing the drums. Josh told us about his trips to Montreal, about the Tam Tams, and his short stay where the “Hasidic Jews live“. He came back to Sherbrooke one day, found his own place - made it his home - and decided he was going to play the drums for himself. Josh’s beard has been growing for the past eight years. He’s also been collecting rocks and enjoying evenings on St. Mary’s River Lodge‘s porch with his friend Andy. Look into Josh’s piercing blue eyes and you might wish you were as elated as he seems to be.
Kurt admits that slowing down to the Nova Scotia pace took some adjustments. “I used to have road rage… I didn’t even know I had road rage. After we moved from Calgary, I started taking quick walks with Sergeant, my German Shepherd… I added ten minutes to the trek… then another one… until I could slowly walk around the lake”. While I indulged on a London Fog at the Village Coffee Grind – which Kurt owns - I met Richard, who told us about a whale who washed up on Port Hilford’s beach; Rhonda, the semi-retired coffee clerk who’ll assert that “you don’t choose your family”; Ursula who’s been meaning to tell me all week that she’s enjoyed bumping into me as “you’re always smiling… so very happy.” …Or so it seems.
The ballpoint couldn’t roll fast enough when I penned, “I don’t enjoy my work anymore”… there is no backspace / delete on this one. I’d rather stop homestaging my headspace to showcase a brand – my creative juices have fuelled enough profitable campaigns as it is. Saying your final goodbye to a loved one will do this to you: layers of thoughts will fluctuate – good luck making sense of them. What I do know is that some monsters will stay behind in lovely Sherbrooke - we’ve packed lighter for the trip back to Montreal. Our souls are pondering the Nova Scotia makeover: straying away from the fast lane… career shifts… My BIC ballpoint pen traces one big question mark.
Before we parted, we visited Grammie Aleah one last time: “It’s your turn to take care of my family”, she told me. She’s a wonderful woman, that Aleah… She knew exactly what she was doing. She kissed me goodbye, and I left – sad, yet heartened. Thank you, Aleah.
ADDENDUM: A heartfelt thank you to the Schupbach family – Gabou, Andy, Ursula and Fred for your hospitality and friendship. You have made our stay at the St. Mary’s River Lodge one that we will remember.
All pictures by The Ringmistress.