Nova Scotians pride themselves on their friendliness. Whether it’s the insularity of the small villages or the fact they see plenty of sweaty tourers, they in fact strike me as incredibly reserved and a bit shy. It’s odd for anyone to wave first, shout hello, or ask me any questions while I’m stopped at the store. Is it possible to have a province of wall-flowers?
None of the roads I’ve been on have a shoulder. Most drivers are incredibly polite, giving me lots of room and actually slowing down if it is unsafe to pass (lots of hill crests). Every now and then, some teenage boy will do something stupid. Yesterday, some asshole kid threw a coke can at me. These are the same kids that wouldn’t dare say a thing to you at the store. It can put me in a foul, hateful mood for hours because there’s not much else to focus on…
Yesterday, I did not stay hateful for long. As I stopped on a hill taking some photos, an older fellow on an equally old bike was swerving up the hill on it’s broken gears. He rode up, admired the view of the ocean with me and invited me down to meet his Newfie wife, Betty Lou, and have some cake and coffee. The angel food cake with wild blueberries was delicious and made better tasting as it also happened to be Hector’s birthday cake. How fast I forgot about kids throwing cans and wall-flowers as I spent a good 30 minutes cooling down and laughing with H and B.
Continuing on down the road, I passed a sign for the Stone Soup festival, a small music gathering in Moser River. That evening found me, with the sky full of stars, listening to local musicians singing mainly local sea songs and old western tunes.
The next morning, I chatted with Gayle and Jurgen, the founders of the Bay of Islands non-profit. They organize the festival, but their primary goal is to build community sustainability in this economically depressed corner of Nova Scotia. They are working to increase knowledge of organic farming, low-impact forestry practices, while developing local craftsmanship and production.
As Gayle told me in the morning over coffee, she used to feel like there wasn’t much she could do about problems in the world, but if she doesn’t try, than nothing will change. It’s good work these folks are doing out on the edge of the cold ocean.
The Eastern Shore looks a bit like Seattle