Saturday, August 2, 2008

True Confessions

Well, I'm afraid it has happened. I went for three entire weeks without seeing a show.

In my last post (more than a month ago!) I said that I was planning to see an outdoor production of Our Town while vacationing in Nova Scotia. Well, I almost did. One day when we were out exploring, we drove to the remote arts-centre/farm where the production was to take place to find out how the whole thing would work. I discovered that the show was selling well so I should buy tickets ahead, that the location was farther away from our summer home than expected (a full hour and a half), and that the decision to cancel a show due to inclement weather (which they defined as downpour, not merely rain) would be made 20 minutes before showtime.

Suddenly, going to theatre seemed a lot more like work than play. And work is exactly what one is not supposed to do on a holiday. So I decided to pass.

We had a marvelous time in Nova Scotia. We walked down to the Bay almost every day. We ate scallops. We gorged ourselves on local strawberries. We visited with neighbours. We drove to the "South Shore" where the Atlantic is cold and fierce, playing in the waves with our boogie boards, numb and giggling. We spent a day wandering around Halifax, our one city experience. We drove up "Digby Neck", a thin piece of land that stretches up the coast, topped by two tiny islands connected only by ferry. Off the coast of the second (Brier Island) is a colony of Sea Lions and we sat in the sunshine watching and listening to their primal laziness for at least an hour. We went shopping at the best thrift stores in the universe, the humourously-named Guy's Frenchies. We played croquet on the lawn and read on the verandah. We had a holiday.

One of the most memorable events every year is Canada Day. Though the village is tiny they take the national celebration seriously and we see more people on July 1 than at any other time. Among the activities are a parade that goes from the shore up the hill past our house to the firehall, the smallest and happiest parade you will ever see, followed by an award presentation and ice cream. The best part is the evening. All day long, men drive down the hill with flat trailors full of wood scraps which they place in a carefully constructed pile on the rocks at the shore. When completed, the tower is easily 14 feet in diameter and at least 10 feet high.

Around 8:30, the wood is ignited and everyone gathers at the shore to watch the bonfire against the backdrop of the Bay. There are smaller fires around the large one, used to roast weiners and marshmallows on the carefully whittled treebranches that have been prepared. My kids always think that those are the best hot dogs they ever have and I am sure it's true. The atmosphere is vibrant and festive and as the tide climbs closer to the fire, the sun sinks lower into the water.

At sunset, everyone moves up off the rock onto the freshly-mowed field behind to watch the fireworks. We sit on the grass facing the Bay surrounded by approximately 150 others and watch a couple local guys send magic into the sky from their post beside the fire engine. I've seen some spectacular fireworks in my life but even the international competitions can't seem to compare. The excitement and appreciation, coupled with the stunning backdrop and the sound of the incoming tide, make these my very favourite fireworks. When they are over, the crowd applauds and cheers and people make their way home or traipse back down to the rock to watch the tide eat the remains of the fire.

I think I need to correct my initial comment. I did see a show during my time in Nova Scotia, an intimate show with heart, anticipation, beauty and impact. My favourite sort of theatre.

1 comment:

The man from First Peoples Point said...

In Nova Scotia, I love to watch the sometimes almost mystical light as it constantly paints the ocean, which itself is always changing in texture, mood, intensity, and power, with the surface of the water in sidebar patterns, some calm, some fretted, some corrugated, some all kind of rippley, others marked by cross currents both dangerous and benign. I can never remember how many kilometres long the N.S. seacoast is, but it is very very long, and in every inlet, every bay, there might be a cluster of houses, a village, a town, a city, each highly individualised in character, shaped by history, culture, language, religion, race, class, and gender, by travelling to and fro on the ocean over the centuries, and by knowing what it means to 'listen' to what seascape and landscape, together, tell you about who you are and who you might become.