Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 5, 2021 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Ballantyne’s Cove – July 1


“They go down with their nets to the shore,

They go down like their fathers before,

And the sea seems to say, “If you ride me today,

I will grant you the wealth of my store.”

Sea People -Allister MacGillivray

Very often in life, it pays to be spontaneous.

Like many Canadians, I was conflicted about Canada Day. Make no mistake. Aside from all the warts and blemishes, I still love this country and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Not all of my loyal readers are on Facebook. In addition to the pieces that I have written recently in this space, I have also been posting stories and images on Facebook about residential schools.

When I got up on Canada Day, I knew that this one would be far different than many others. It would feel different and look different, with the color orange possibly supplanting the red and white we normally see on this day.

There is a lovely, scenic drive not far from here affectionately referred to as “The Cape”. Some say that it is miniature version of the world-famous Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. I contacted my daughter to see if she and her daughter would like to go for a drive around The Cape and possibly (?!) get an ice cream at Ballantyne’s Cove. For good measure we decided to have lunch together before heading off on a 75km drive.

Lunch turned out to be very special. We decided to watch a video depicting the lives of Inuit people. We sat at the kitchen table and watched Young Inuk, a brief (32 minutes) video produced in my former home in Kangiqsujuaq. I was able to pause the video many times to explain some aspects of scenes being portrayed. I think my granddaughter learned a lot about the Inuit way of life, most notably that they are people of the land. A few people in the video are survivors of residential schools so we were able to address that topic in an appropriate way.

The weather in town was overcast but as we neared Ballantyne’s Cove, the sun burst through presenting us with a picture- perfect afternoon.

Ballantyne’s Cove is a very busy, active wharf, home to North Bay Fisherman’s Coop.

“They are sea people, the pride of the land,

Strong of the spirit and rough of the hand,

Sea people the waters command,

From their rocky old steeds of the strand”.

The primary product of the Cooperative is lobsters. In a good year, these tasty crustaceans are very profitable with one of the major markets overseas.  It is estimated that the lobster industry in Canada is worth $1 billion a year with much of the output coming from Nova Scotia. I think it is fair to say that the 2020 season was extremely challenging. Catches were good but prices paid to the fishers were very low as demand cratered because of Covid.

By all accounts, the 2021 season has been much better. Prices have more than doubled and the catches in most areas have been strong.

Our first stop was at the small, but amazing Fish and Ships food emporium a few steps away from the wharf and St.Georges Bay. If you want some awesome fish and chips, here is the place you want to go. Our bellies were still too full from lunch for fish and chips but there was still a small cavity that could accommodate an ice cream cone. With cones in hand, we walked over to the wharf.

One thing you will notice immediately at any active wharf is the smell. Of course, one would expect to smell fish but add to that, the aroma of seaweed and salt air and you have the perfect cocktail available in the Maritimes. Lobsters are harvested in Nova Scotia in different locations at different times of the year. As it turned out, the season in our zone was days away from drawing to a close. The wharf was a hubbub of activity as many fishers were hauling in their traps. Inclement weather was being predicted for the final day (July 3rd) so many decided to haul their pots on this exquisite sunny day.

“As the waves rise to tumble and fall,

In the face of a wild summer’s squall,

All the traps will be cast, and the courses held fast,

For they brave through the worst of it all”.

My granddaughter was quite taken with the huge jellyfish floating in the water. She also clambered up massive rocks which form the breakwater. I chatted with a few of the fishers. Sometimes they can be reticent to tell you when they’ve had a banner year. Not this year. You could feel the elation that this had been a great season.

We strolled over to the Bluefin Tuna Interpretive Center. We watched an excellent video depicting the burgeoning tuna industry. My granddaughter was very interested to see the tuna captured and to learn that tunas caught in these waters end up in some of the fanciest restaurants in Japan the day after they are caught. Buyers for the Japanese market show up at the wharf when a bluefin is caught and bid for it at an auction. This was a great way of explaining to my granddaughter the notion of global economy.

It was truly, a wonderful afternoon full of sights, sounds and smells, with a dose of education thrown in for good measure.

I live in a housing cooperative. It is located at the end of a dead-end street. A river runs through the property, and it is surrounded by stands of gigantic trees. Of course, Covid has prevented the residents from gathering for nearly 18 months. It was decided that we would have an outdoor pizza party on Canada Day. Many of our residents are older and you could see them beaming just, to be in the presence of friends in a safe setting.

We happen to have a very accomplished fiddler as one of the tenants. After we dined, John pulled out his fiddle and played several lively tunes much to the delight of everyone. I went and got my guitar to chord along with John. This led to a two- hour spontaneous sing along. Another one of our residents it a well -known vocalist. She has sung at more ceilidhs, weddings, and funerals than you can shake a stick at… in English and Gaelic! My guitar was passed around to a few others. It was an impromptu ceilidh and it was awesome.

The evening was overcast with dark clouds looming the entire time. Miraculously the rain (and the mosquitoes) stayed away. It was a perfect evening spent with friends.

This Canada Day wasn’t a flag waving type of day for many Canadians. For many of us, it was a day of reflection. It was also an opportunity to connect with family and friends after a brutally long stretch apart.

It was a day of spontaneity, laughter and fellowship; fireworks of a very different kind.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sails shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking”.

Sea Fever – John Masefield

Have a great week.







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