Less than twelve hours in Nova Scotia, the Canadian people have shown themselves to be extraordinarily helpful, friendly and full of energy towards being positive in life. A man at the airport told us about how the seats were listed across the rows; the head of a big piano dealership specializing in new Steinway and Yamaha pianos described his business to us, proud of it despite his being blind; his staff helped us find a bank open after 5 p.m. where we could exchange U.S. dollars to Canadian currency; a woman at a market nearby was amiable as she cut a carton of eggs in half with a small knife so that we could buy half a dozen for our stay; a young boy about ten years old said “hello” to me in the store even though I’m Asian.
After that, we had a delicious supper at a restaurant called “Rhubarb” which served homemade buttermilk biscuits. The maitre D’ – a woman – told us about how out of 29 staff, there was only one 52-year old woman who could make the recipe turn out right. (The secret is not to twist the biscuit cutter so as to allow the biscuits to rise unencumbered.) The wit and grace with which she told us about it showed how much she enjoyed her job (and life) and how refreshing it was to watch the way she greeted all the diners in a similar fashion including a couple who bought two small oil paintings off the wall after they finished their meal.
And there’s more: the affable manager of our cottage, offered to let us use his phone anytime because he has an economical plan (and because our cellphones don’t work up here,) leaving it out on the settee of his porch when he’s away on errands during the day. After meeting us for less than five minutes last night, “Ted” offered to treat us to a lobster dinner one night – and we accepted as long as he will join us to have it together tomorrow night.
He regaled us (that’s the only word) with stories about his life including a serious bout with cancer two years ago wherein heavy radiation and chemo treatments were perpetrated upon his body. He said to his team of seven doctors at Dalhousie Medical Center: “Do whatever you think is best and if it doesn’t help me, maybe it will help somebody else.” That’s an incredible attitude towards life and survival, at least to me. How we live when we think we’re dying is a testament to our will – and his, believe me, is way beyond anyone whom I’ve ever met.
Today, we’re planning to drive to the Mahone Bay area where “Ted” gave us a recommendation for a local restaurant to have lunch at called, “Oh My Cod!” and to visit Lunenberg where the museum for the famous 19th century schooner, “Bluenose,” is found.
We hardly travel at all, much less to another country. We picked this picturesque cottage called “Whaleback Cottage” on the edge of Peggy’s Cove outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. We have been surprised by the plentiful scrub pine trees growing everywhere (with irregular spaces between the branches that are never available at Christmas time.) The land and sea are beautiful as they are everywhere in the world.
But what I have been so impressed with in so little time haa not been a sense of place (although it is beautiful) but the kind and vibrant spirit of the Canadian people we’ve come across who seem to live life with so much joyful energy and generosity of spirit towards others. It is such a refreshing breath of fresh air. And what a stark contrast it is to the America we all know and worry about these days.
P.S. Our trip to Mahone Bay and Lunenberg were just about as expected. Except that when we decided to split an order of a 3-decker grilled cheese sandwich with fries – and a slice of coconut cream pie for dessert, we were informed our meals were “on the house!” “Ted’s” friend then came over and introduced herself – and we chatted about his health and his generosity. We left a big tip for the waitress who was working her 2nd day at the restaurant.