Friday, October 3, 2014

Sabbatical Journal, Day Nineteen


            We are staying pretty close to the cottage today, spending a relatively quiet day.  We went into Annapolis Royal to use the internet at the public library.  I can bring my laptop computer and sit at one of their tables and use their internet without charge so I checked email and wrote a post for my blog. 
            Afterwards we drove up the road that leads to Granville Ferry.  It is a road that parallels the road that goes into Annapolis Royal for a while and then it bends away and follows the course of the Annapolis River which also runs through Annapolis Ferry.  Both communities are across the river from one another.  The historical guide for the tour we took recently told us that there was a ferry between the two places for many years and that is why it has the name.  Back in the 1800s a person could cross the river on a ferry for a penny.  If a person brought livestock with them on the ferry it cost an additional penny. 
            The road took us through the village of Granville Ferry which is a very nice community, with large houses lining the road.  It is interesting to note that there are two large white churches in the community and neither is being used as churches any longer.  One has been converted into a home and the other is being remodeled to become a museum or community center.   There is an Anglican Church still in use just beyond the community on that road but no others.  It may be that since the community is so near the larger town of Annapolis Ferry that the church goers drive the short distance and the churches there could not survive. 
            The road continued to a historic site called the Melanson Settlement which is where Acadian pioneers had built a village back in the 1600s and remained there until they were sent away by the British during the Expulsion in 1755.  The pioneers had reclaimed land near the river using dykes built to drain the land and rid it of the salt that was deposited by the Bay of Fundy.  The land had been given to New England Planters after the Expulsion and it remained in their families until the country of Canada had an archaeological dig on this land and found many historic relics that could be connected to the Acadians.  Today, there are information boards that give information about the Acadians who had lived there and trails to walk to see where the digs that happened in the 1980s took place. 
            Past the Melanson Settlement is Port Royal which is a historical re-enactment village that has been erected to demonstrate what life was like for the first persons who for France when he visited in 1605 and established a fort called Port Royal.  It is located where the Annapolis River pours into the Bay of Fundy.  The town of Annapolis Royal was the capital of Nova Scotia for many years until Halifax was given that honor.  Port Royal buildings are built to resemble the original ones that stood there and persons are in costume portraying persons who lived and worked at Port Royal at the time.  This area was always in dispute between the French and British until the British finally won out and Port Royal was renamed Fort Anne to honor Queen Anne of England.  We visited Port Royal in 2011 when we were here so we did not stop there today. 
            We continued driving on the road through several small communities until we reached the end of the road at Victoria Beach.  The name sounds as if it would be a nice place to walk around but actually it is just a beach covered with rocks that are exposed at low tide and covered with water otherwise.  We stopped and looked and then drove back to Annapolis Royal to find some lunch. 
            The afternoon was spent around our cottage reading and resting and visiting with our neighbor, who is a retired professor from Montreal.  She is an accomplished artist and took us into her studio to see some of her artwork, some of which is still being completed.  She is a widow and a bit of a recluse but she has taken a liking to Bo and she loves to pet him and talk to him.  She showed us through her garden which is the source for some of her inspiration for her artwork.  She paints many flowers and trees and includes wildlife found around Parker’s Cove in her paintings.  She gave us some lettuce and chives from her garden today for our evening meal.   She is a widow and since her husband died in the last two years she has not been as outgoing since she cared for him during the last years of his life and has been trying to be on her own since then.  She is a German by birth but has been a Canadian citizen for over forty years.  She is very educated and intelligent. 

            A few years ago I read the biography of Vincent van Gogh entitled, Lust for Life.  I was impressed with the language that was quoted that van Gogh used to describe the French countryside that he painted especially the land and sea in Provence.  He talked about how bright and brilliant the colors were, how they seemed alive and sometimes they were so brilliant that it was hard to contain how beautiful they appeared to him. 
            I have had that same experience several times this week when I have looked at the countryside in this area of Nova Scotia.  Driving on country roads or standing on a rocky beach looking out at the ocean, suddenly the color of the grass and the sky and the sea has been powerful to me.  I was standing with Doris talking to the neighbor at our nearest cottage and looked out over the bay just past the porch of our cottage.  The sun was shining brightly and the water looked especially blue to me.  The grass in my view between me and the sea looked a brilliant green and all at once I felt this powerful feeling of joy in simply being here and seeing this peaceful scene. 
            I felt the same feelings last Saturday as we drove down the Shore Road and saw the fields growing crops between the road and the bay.  The colors of sea, sky, and field were tremendous, rich in depth and stunning to look at.  It is difficult to describe just how it felt to see this rich beauty and to give thanks all at once for what I was seeing.  A great serenity seemed to fill my spirit at that time-- A deep peace for being in this place at this time with this gift of nature before me. 
            “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night…How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” (Psalm 92:1-2, 5)

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