By Helen Dalton
I first visited Nova Scotia 20 plus years ago with my parents in tow. They came for a visit pretty much the following week after I’d moved in with my boyfriend in Toronto.
To give the poor guy some much-needed space, I planned to whisk them away on a road trip. When I enquired where was the prettiest place in Canada I was directed to the shores of Nova Scotia.
We packed up the car and said goodbye to Don and Toronto and headed east. We toured most of N.S. and compared the beautiful countryside to the beauty that surrounds us in the UK, and as we were a car load of Brits we were not too impressed. Endless roads of trees leading to some very small towns. Overall opinions – not rushing back!
Fast forward 20 plus years and I find myself residing on those very same shores, and although there has been considerable growth in some areas of Nova Scotia, the countryside is still the same. BUT having grown tired of the big city and the endless construction of condos and shopping plazas, my destination was paradise.
After nine years of living on the ocean I now realise that my first impression was that of a 30-year-old city girl – I was seeing with my eyes and not with my heart.
Feeling somewhat sheltered in the time of Covid – I look at the world, watching daily the craziness of the US, plus the many international government responses to this pandemic, including Canada, and I feel nothing but sadness and dismay.
Being here in rural N.S. (number count today being 36 active cases, most borders having been closed since March) this has left me feeling so very, very lucky and somewhat safe. I cannot imagine the hell most people are experiencing.
Yes, I lost my full-time job. Yes, I got displaced from what I knew. Having spent some of my Christmas season on the phone to family and friends in Toronto and the UK, I know a lot of people are having a truly ‘shit’ time – and don’t get me started on mental health.
I know we are all going to get through this and my advice is to look at the little things in life not only with your eyes but with your heart. I am so very, very lucky. We are so very lucky.
‘I see the family of ducks crossing the road and jumping into the ocean, one at a time, with the youngest duckling struggling and the family swimming around in circles whilst the youngster catches up to the rest of them’
The things I see daily are waking up and watching the deer sleeping and resting in the backyard – stretching and grazing on the wild shrubs – slowly getting to their feet and beginning their day.
I see the family of ducks crossing the road and jumping into the ocean, one at a time, with the youngest duckling struggling and the family swimming around in circles whilst the youngster catches up to the rest of them.
I see the bald eagle flying by and my friend, the blue heron, that flies past my house heading home most evenings (well maybe when the weather is somewhat warmer than it is now.) But I watch the slow launch of the take off and the slow motion of the wing span as they glide through the air.
I pay a visit to my neighbour and we spend time in the evening searching through the neighbourhood for Hank the rooster and his sibling, including Cher, the chicken, who go wandering off to explore. We gather up all five of them and send them right way back to their coop for a goodnight sleep so that they can begin another day and another adventure.
During the first lockdown my friends and I would ‘social distance’ on the water in our kayaks and go and explore the local islands. There were not many tourists this year and I spent, and still do, most of my time reflecting and walking the rocks on the beach down the road from where I live. Just having my feet in the sand and dipping as the waves trickle in. Reflecting on this very strange time – not even seeing an airplane in the sky. Wrapped in my own little world – yes, we are careful and go back and forth into our main town of Lunenburg but we do not venture any further.
Like everyone, we are waiting for all this to subside – estimated time for vaccination in NS is September 2021.
It is a new year and I feel that when we go back to normal – (I know you have heard this on a continuous basis) but we should see the world not only through our eyes, but with our hearts. We see the homeless guy (and that could be any one of us) we see the garbage on the streets and the wastefulness of what has gone before, and we should all believe that we can do better. We can be supportive and show compassion and see what’s truly important in this wonderful world we live in.
At the beginning of this pandemic we heard continually, that ‘we are all in this together’. Let’s enter back into that world together, enjoying the small things in life that money doesn’t buy.
I’m lucky, I live in my paradise but if I can open my heart and mind I know you can too!
Happy New Year!
For more info about Helen’s work check out the Blue Hogg Gallery.