A Monk, the Harvest, Time Travel, Art, Music and Family

A couple of days before our tree fell,  I planted over 120 cloves of garlic for me and 80 for my friend Pat. I had some time to think about all the posts I didn’t write this month.

Although I used to wonder what people ever did ‘for fun’ in a little village, I have to say that now I know that so many events and activities happen in a month that it’s not possible to take part in everything let alone write about it all.

Still, I would like to share with you some of the events that happened here to me in October.

I belong to a small, but dedicated meditation group in Bear River. We meet on Wednesday evenings and meditate for 45 minutes, and take turns reading from and talking about a variety of Buddhist texts. For 2 years we’ve discussed bringing a monk in to talk to us about meditation and spirituality. And that’s how Ajahn Kusalo wound up coming all the way from his Tisarana Buddhist Monastery in Perth Ontario to Bear River.

It was my first meeting with a monk. Hearing his description of life in a monastery was fascinating. Hearing his take on the Buddhist teachings we’ve been reading was enlightening! During the time I spent with him and the others who came for his talks, I felt like I had travelled to another place.
A few of us went for a walk with him on the Bay of Fundy on a particularly mysterious-looking day with the fog rolling in and the fog horn sounding. Ajahn Kusalo was very picturesque in his flowing burnt-sienna robes.

It seems strange to me now to come all the way to this remote part of Canada to meet my first monk, but I’ve had many ‘firsts’ in Bear River.

During the very same weekend, a group of hard-working volunteers, led by volunteer-extrordinaire Simone Wilson,  put together a fabulous program in Bear River as part of a  cross Canada Culture Days event. I was so sorry that I couldn’t be in two places at once, but I did manage to enjoy some of the events at Fall for Bear River.

Volunteers such as Bonnie McLeod decorated the village with whimsical and seasonal figures.

There was a 17th century encampment set up to give us an idea of what life was like for the Acadian French who were probably the first Europeans to come to Bear River (other than perhaps a few Vikings centuries before).

Jenny’s husband Jayar showed us how to sharpen knives.

I was beginning to think I had time travelled to the 1700’s when a woman floated by in her kayak.  Later, I attended her going-away potluck dinner party where poetry and prose on the subject of journies were read aloud. It was very touching.

Storytelling was part of the weekend too. The Mi’kmaq  have lived in Nova Scotia for thousands of years and there is a L’ sitkuk Community in Bear River. Teachings about living in the forest were shared at the waterfront and I learned how to cook stew in a carved out tree without a pot.
Unfortunately, the weekend rain reduced attendance this year, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of either the enthralled visitors or the many hosting volunteers.

One of the websites in Bear River that I manage received this comment about the event:

My husband and I, together with two guests from the Caribbean country of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, spent time at your Fall for Bear River event this afternoon. We thoroughly enjoyed the reenactment, the recreated Mi’maq Village with the extraordinary cultural interpretation, the presentation on medicinal herbs, the 1700s living history encampment, the antique canoe show, the Maud Lewis Exhibition and the historically themed dinner. Thank you for providing many special memories for us all. We can only try to imagine the time, effort and expertise that went into planning and executing such an event! It speaks volumes about the strength of your community!

Larry made and donated the Maud Lewis sign.
Pumpkin icecream? 😉

The month also saw the end of the garden. (Except for the odd leek, cabbage, a bit of broccoli, and some tiny brussel sprouts). These cherry tomatoes ripened slowly and there are still a rare few left. I am going to miss such ready-access to fresh food.

Jewels from the garden.

Both Larry and I showed our work this month, and we travelled to Halifax in a one-day whirlwind fashion to check out the annual show of the Nova Scotia Metal Arts Guild and to pick up Larry’s two awards.

At the Hydrostone Gallery.

It’s a 6 hour round trip to Halifax which is doable, although it means driving home in the dark. But because we don’t get to see colourful ‘city lights’ at night anymore, it was kind of cool to see these on the way home. I guess that’s what happens when the usual becomes the unusual.

Big city lights.

Meanwhile, back at home I took advantage of the last days of Fall and started the largest painting I’ve ever done…and especially the largest ON LOCATION painting. Our little Sumach grove was in its peak of colour so I dragged out my 4′ x 6′ canvas and held onto it tight with one hand, while painting with the other. The severe gusts of wind were warnings of the storm that was coming.

Painting the end of the sumachs.

However, Larry and I didn’t know about the coming storm; we just knew that the weather was warm and what better place to watch the cloud formations change than from the hill in front of our house.

Cloud busting.

There was another live concert to attend at the Rebekah Hall… this time with Caleb Miles and Harvey Marcotte. Concerts are generally $15, 3 blocks from home and include tasty fair trade Sissiboo Coffee and shared homemade treats by donation.

Caleb Miles and Harvey Marcotte perform.

Throughout the month we talked to the ‘kids’ over the phone, on Skype, through google chat and caught up with each other by email, twitter and Facebook. Social media has totally changed the ease of accessibility and altered the reality of living so far away from each other.

While the Occupy movements developed, our Jesse worked hard to re-elect his local NDP candidate.

Jesse rallies.

And Emily made plans for her next trip / show / studio / move. And one of her decisions would come as an early Christmas present for us. 😉

Making plans online.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon


10 thoughts on “A Monk, the Harvest, Time Travel, Art, Music and Family

  1. Hi Sue!
    I just checked my garlic in the garden today and it has sprouted lovely green shoots. I have found it so easy to grow here that I wish everyone would try growing a row. The harvested garlic has wintered over nicely in our dirt-floor basement and I actually think I grew too much last year (if that’s even possible!)
    Last year our apple trees blossomed from May 16 – 26. This past winter was so mild and I wonder if this will shift the bloom time.

    You can ask Nova Scotia to send you some guides and info about travel and accomodation in NS.
    https://www.novascotia.com/en/home/planyourtrip/travel_guides/default.aspx

    There is a B and B here in the village called Barnwood Inn, but I’m not sure if they take dogs or not. There are quite a few B and Bs in Annapolis Royal too and as it is the beginning of the season, they might have special rates. We stayed once at ‘Just B Lodging’ in Annapolis. It was a sweet tiny bachelor apt with a teeny kitchen and lovely view of backyards.
    Digby is even closer and there you will find scallops and lobsters galore!!

    Bear RIver wineries may be open for tours – just to make sure, check out our village website at http://bearriver.ca for their contact info.

    Most tourist services, stores, experiences open after the May long weekend, so that’s a consideration too. That includes Bear River. Currently there is just a gas station, grocery, restaurant (which has live open-mic music on Friday nights) and second hand stuff/books open.

    We are having a Mardi Gras concert here on May 4th….not sure yet if there will be other events in Bear River until it’s closer to the time.

    Drop by our studio if you have the time!

  2. Hello from Pembroke Ontario
    I just found your blog on the internet this morning and want to express my thanks for creating and sharing your artistic life with all of us. My husband, our dog Izzy and I are planning a trip to Bear River area this May/June timeframe and I am hoping we can find a dog friend place to stay for 4 or 5 days to give us time to explore. We are looking for cherry blossoms to photograph, farmers’ markets to take in and of course lobstert and shallops to go with our home grown organic garlic that we are bringing. (We are the first commerical organic garlic growers of the Ottawa Valley and help start 2 garlic festivals over 13 years ago)

    Do you have any recommendtions or insight into Bear River events for mid May to mid June?
    Sue Parsons, Ontario

  3. Why didn’t I move to Bear River ? 😉 Lovely images and and lovey impressions made with your well-chosen words.

    Wish I’d known about the “Fall for Bear River”, and the exhibition at the Hydrostone, would have popped in for a “hello”.

    Blog on !

    1. Sybil…..believe me, the blog is heavily edited or condensed or something 😉 For instance, we still have to boil our water before we drink it and there are no art supply stores closer than 3 hours away. Besides, I know you live in a beautiful part of this province too…..well, really, who doesn’t??
      I’ve been thinking about your comment about the exhibition and the Fall for Bear River too. It’s made me realize that I mostly talk about stuff AFTER it’s happened. AND….if I talk about an upcoming show, I useally put that on the Green Willow site. http://greenwillow.ca
      So…..I’m thinking that I need to change that. For instance, we will be participating in two holiday/christmas shows with the next 3 weeks….and I probably should mention that in the sidebar. I have another blog and facebook page that advertises local Bear River community events. http://bearriverarts.wordpress.com or Bear River Arts and Action on fb.

  4. Thanks, Flora, I really enjoyed this, text & photos. There’s been a lot going on this fall, here too. Whew, happy to have a little break now. (I also like your banner photo, captures the feeling of fall so well.)

    1. Faye…that banner photo was taken by my daughter. I keep thinking the ‘little break’ is coming up….but when! I said to Larry the other day: “Remember when this place was the vacation destination? Why can’t we try that again?”

  5. Woah — I am absolutely blown away by all that’s been happening. The plate of tomatoes made me sad, as I’ve harvested the last of my own. What a difference it makes walking out the back door, verus going to the store to get your food. Bear River has been a happening place. I spent the month driving between school and home and painting. End of story. A month in a city marked by occasionally getting outside into the park near our house. But I wish you’d been here for the opening when the paintings went in. We had fun. Love your blog and this amazing post.

    1. Barbara, I am eternally impressed with your ability to combine a hectic work and commute schedule with the amount of painting you do, not to mention all the shows you are in. I should be able to keep up with you but I can’t!! A HUGE thing I miss about Toronto is not being able to go to your shows (not to mention not being able to participate in one with you). I still say we should have a group show here …. you, me, Noreen…..xoxo

  6. Love, love, love this blog entry. First, it makes me homesick for NS, but your enthusiasm for life and all that Bear River offers its teeny community inspires me. It’s been wonderful to follow your gardening, and it’s sad to see the last of those garden jewels….but there’s always spring.

    Margaret Jeddry
    Nahant, MA & Meteghan, NS

    1. Hi Margaret. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you 😉 It can be a real advantage when the choices are limited with regard to things to do. Even so, I still spend far too much time trying to deciding the optimum order in which to accomplish things……and then ‘waste’ time checking out the level of water in the rain buckets outside. lol. I am glad that Bear River has a community that I can feel part of. It’s very important to me.
      I spent some time this afternoon shelling dried beans that I’m saving to plant next summer….the garden continues in one form or another.

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