Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 30, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

B.C. House on the campus of St.F.X.

It’s time to put out the welcome mat and show Canada that we are the best small town in the country.

Tomorrow evening, the National Special Olympics kick off with a dazzling ceremony at the Keating Millennium Centre. Some 1400 athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers will descend upon Antigonish and we need to show them that a small town is up to the task. Last year, the national games were held in Greater Vancouver, a city and surrounding area comprised of some 2.5 million people. Greater Antigonish (!) has a population of about 18,000.

It has been a daunting task to plan an event of this magnitude. I don’t think most of us have any idea what a big deal this really is. Yes, we are a university town and every September we welcome around 4,500 students to the area. Antigonish has been doing this for decades and the drill is well rehearsed. The transition to a new academic year is almost seamless. We expect more traffic, more energy and a lot more noise in our neighborhoods until students settle into their groove.

But this is different.

There is no doubt that Antigonish has had some experience hosting national competitions but these will be dwarfed in size and complexity by the Special Olympics. Organizers have been preparing for a few years now and the fruits of their labour will be borne out this week. An army of volunteers is in place to handle every possible contingency but let’s not sit idly by. This may be one of the greatest marketing opportunities for the town that we’ve ever had.

So, how can you help?

Undoubtedly there will be some last minute calls for help. No one can predict with certainty how things will unfold. Check your social media platforms a bit more often. If you’re already on Facebook 24 hours a day, please disregard the previous comment!

Be courteous to the many new faces you will meet on the streets of the town. Be helpful with directions. For many visitors, this will be the first time that they have travelled to Nova Scotia and we want to demonstrate our hospitality.

Be patient. Expect more traffic. We sometimes get our knickers in a knot if we have to wait more than 45 seconds trying to make a left turn. Economic spinoffs from a major event come at a cost so prepare to be delayed at some point this week. Restaurants, grocery stores, retail outlets will all be busier than normal. If you happen to be in a lineup and you see a stranger, strike up a conversation and welcome them to our town.

Smile at people. No one is suggesting that we all walk the streets with a perma grin on our face but a smile goes a long way. Take some tips from the Special Olympians. Smiling is something that comes naturally to them.

Be a spectator. While all of the focus and energy has been on the planning of the games, many people forget that this is an athletic competition and Canada’s best will be here strutting their stuff. If you want to see great athletes and great attitudes on display, wander over to the campus of St.F.X, the epicentre of the event.

Be an ambassador. We all know the expression, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is a golden opportunity to show the country that we are hospitable and caring people. We want our guests to go back home and rave about “the Antigonish experience”. Tell visitors about our beaches, live theatre, our culture and heritage, our university, our library, our museum. Tell them about the strength of our primary industries of farming, fishing and forestry. Tell them about our world class hospital and the Coady Institute. Invite them to next year’s Highland Games.

Better still, show them. If they have time and you have time, show them around the area. Take them to the Tall and Small for a coffee or buy them an ice cream at the Koala Cone, or a drive around “the Cape”.

In other words, do what you always do.

Show people that Antigonish just may be the best small town in Canada.

 

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on July 26, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Spending quality time with Mother Nature

 

I love my morning walks, especially in the summer time. I’m an early bird so getting up and out the door before the hustle and bustle of a new day starts is a treasure that I don’t take for granted.

We’re definitely in the dog days of summer. Do you know where that term originated? Neither did I until I looked it up. The ancient Romans called the hottest and most humid days of the summer “dies caniculares” or “dog days”. The name came about because they associated the hottest days of the summer with the star Sirius. Sirius was known as the “dog star”.

The months of May and June left us all wondering if we would have a summer at all as the temperatures stayed cool with plenty of rain. The good news is that everything is lush and green as we near the end of July.

In our home town, there is a path that runs from St.F.X. University to the mall. It is affectionately called “Liquor Lane”. You don’t need an advanced degree to figure out that this trail runs directly to the liquor store at the mall. It is a well-worn path.

Earlier this week on one of those sultry mornings, I was walking briskly along liquor lane. It doesn’t take much to get my mind wandering but on this particular day, I was thinking about this strip of real estate and transported myself back nearly 60 years when this was known as the Bishop’s Bowl. The land between liquor lane and the Annex (the old Antigonish High School) was comprised of woodland and a wonderful, gently sloping hill that was a great place to toboggan back in the day. Many local skiers used this hill to hone their skills long before the Keppoch came along.

Living nearby on Hillcrest Street, I spent many idyllic summer days of my youth wandering through the woods down to the Bishop’s Bowl, up through the cemetery and into the forest behind Church Street Extension.

I wonder how many children these days will ever experience the joy of spending days on end hanging out with Mother Nature? Back then, in our youth, days felt like months and months felt like years. These days, months feel like days and the years are borne swiftly on the winds of time.

How many children will pick a daisy and carefully pull off the leaves uttering the infamous refrain, “she loves me, she loves me not?” Will they know the smell of spruce gum and how it turns black on your hands when you cut down boughs to make a fort? Will they experience the pure joy of discovering a patch of blueberries and filling their bellies to bursting? Will they unexpectedly come upon a garter snake slithering through the grass? Will they hear the sound of a dozen bullfrogs croaking in unison or the cacophony of a million crickets announcing the closing of another day?

Will they sit in a field eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich while grasshoppers alight on their hands? Will they stumble upon a wasp nest and learn how fast they can run? Will they see a doe and her fawn nibbling on blades of grass? At the end of the day, will they fall into bed, exhausted from expending energy discovering the wonders of nature?

I feel blessed to have grown up with the simple pleasure of life, like a walk in the woods.

Have a great weekend.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 23, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

High Sea Highlanders dragon boat members

 

Special. adjective. Better, greater or otherwise different from what is usual. Synonyms: exceptional, noteworthy, remarkable, outstanding, and unique.

There will be a lot of “special” going on starting July 31st. The National Special Olympics begins in eight days and you can feel the excitement and anticipation mounting in the host town, our own Antigonish. Rarely is a national competition held in such a small community but Antigonish has proven consistently that it punches above its weight. The town has hosted many successful national championships and visitors from across Canada will be treated to a first class event.

The town is justifiably proud that one of our own, Ryan Kearney will carry the flag for the team from Nova Scotia in the opening ceremonies. Ryan is a fine golfer but more importantly he is a fine gentleman. He knows everybody and always has a smile on his face. He has achieved a great deal and a lot of credit goes to his family who have been supportive of Ryan’s endeavours for a long time.

A number of athletes from the Eastern Highland Special Olympics organization will compete with our nation’s finest athletes. I bumped into some of these folks Saturday at the Dragon Boat Races in New Glasgow. Their team, the High Sea Highlanders are regular competitors in the event and they demonstrate camaraderie and competitiveness… and class.

Speaking of special, I really enjoyed an extra special performance on the spoons by Matthew Wright at the Antigonish Art Fair last Friday evening. During a set changeover, Matthew held the large crowd spellbound with several nifty manoeuvers. I have never seen spoons played behind the back or under the armpits. He was definitely a crowd pleaser.

Summer is in full swing. Like many others, we have been entertaining grandchildren this summer. They have boundless energy and stomachs that are bottomless pits. It seems like the sink is perpetually filled with dishes and the wash machine never sleeps. Cook, clean, wash, dry. Repeat over and over again. You don’t notice the chaos in a big house but as apartment dwellers with limited space, it gets pretty crazy. This is not a complaint, just an observation!

I am a former golfer so it’s not surprising that I watched a lot of golf on the weekend. Golf aficionados love the British Open. Many years ago (2003) I was on golf vacation in Ireland when the Open was being contested. Eight of us stopped in a pub after a round of golf and ended up staying for a very long time catching the final round. While the golf was memorable, what sticks in my mind were the crazy bets that were tossed around the pub. Picking a winner was an obvious bet. But betting on which shoe the golfer would clean first after exiting a bunker shows how far things went astray as the hours wore on. Ben Curtis won that Open but it mattered not to our crew who trudged onward to Tralee for the next day of golf.

Ok. Last chance to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation. With one day to go, I am $355 short of my fundraising goal of $1000 in the Big Bike Ride being held tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. on Main Street. Here’s a link to my page if you would like to make a tax deductible donation. http://support.heartandstroke.ca/site/TR/BigBike2018/BB_General_2018?px=2165881&pg=personal&fr_id=5878

Is it possible to eat ice cream every day of the summer? As long as the grandkids are around, sales of Scotsburn ice cream will remain high!

Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

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