South Shore for Haiti

Click to go to Oxfam Canada or to donate.

I was the “Dessert Queen” in Mahone Bay on Saturday night, receiving desserts people brought to the Mahone Bay Centre, sticking their names on the bottoms of the pie plates so they’d get them back later, sometimes tasting the desserts to find out what they were and if they contained nuts, slicing up cheesecake, apple strudel and blueberry pie….Nice work if you can get it?

It was a benefit for Haiti, to collect money for Oxfam’s Earthquake Emergency Relief Fund.  Oxfam has a team in Haiti permanently, so they are well positioned to get aid to people quickly.  As we have seen, speed is all important in saving lives and preventing chaos.

The little town of Mahone Bay raised $13,600 for Haiti that night.  There were soups, chili, wonderful breads, coffee, cider and desserts, all donated by individuals and businesses in the community.  There were musicians donating their talents on 2 stages, and craft tables for kids to make things to sell and to send to children in Haiti.  300 people were fed.  We wished we could have sent all that food to Haiti, but money travels lighter.

It was a terrific community building event, spearheaded and MC’d by Camelia Frieberg of Pollination Project with Valerie Hearder and Bonnie Isabelle (who did a wonderful job coordinating a busy kitchen with at least a dozen volunteers, as I can attest) the South Shore Waldorf School, Indian Point Marine Farms, Boulangerie La Vendéenne, LaHave Bakery, CafeHaus, Rumtopf Farm and many, many local folks who brought in crock pots and stock pots full of delicious chili and hearty soups and stews.

Musicians included Shalan Joudrey, Mary Knickle and HodgePodge, Paul Buchanan and Eilidh Campbell, Slow Cooking Cover, Tim Merry, Jamie Junger and friends, the Rhodenizer Family, Tom Haddal and friends, Reid Campbell, The Trips and Russ Winham and Kirk Comstock.

You can still donate to Oxfam and have it counted in the tally for the South Shore for Haiti event until Jan. 28. Here’s how: Go to www.oxfam.ca, choose “Haiti Earthquake 2010” and in the Comments section enter “Event: South Shore for Haiti”. Or phone 1-800-466-9326 and ask them to note that it is for “Event: South Shore for Haiti”.

“Rockbound” musical a jaw-dropping production


Since we live and sail on Mahone Bay and have come to know most of its islands by sight, I read Frank Parker Day’s 1928 novel Rockbound with great interest.  I wasn’t the only one.  Thanks to CBC’s Canada Reads program, the previously obscure novel has been lionized by the Canadian literary establishment and the public.

One of the book’s biggest fans is my mother.  She has read it several times.  When I took her sailing around East Ironbound Island, the setting for the novel, the binoculars and cameras were in constant use.

If Day’s characters were as thinly disguised as his settings, it’s no wonder that the locals he met on Ironbound felt betrayed by his portrayal of hard-drinking, feuding fishing families eking out a hardscrabble living on a small island.  But they are long gone now, and new generations of readers marvel at the dramatic sweep of his story, his vivid characterizations and the detailed portrayal of pre-industrial fishing.  For me, Rockbound has made the outer islands of Mahone Bay come alive with the ghosts of those who have gone before.  Imagine rowing from Tancook to Ironbound, from Ironbound to Pearl (“Barren Island” in the novel) – well, I can’t, really, but characters that I have come to care for do just that in the novel, so I believe it is possible.

Rockbound
Poster for Rockbound, the musical. Click picture to visit Two Planks website.

When I heard that Two Planks and a Passion Theatre Company was developing Rockbound as a musical, I was astonished and very curious.  Written by Allen Cole and under development since 2006, it is now playing “off the grid” (outdoors) at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, half an hour north of Wolfville.  My mother and I, both very excited, went last Wednesday.

From the opening song, my questions and doubts about how a musical format would serve the story were laid to rest.  My ears were awash in delicious sound and my jaw remained in my lap for much of the performance.  Harmonically and rhythmically complex and expressive, the music transcends genres and beautifully evokes the epic story and the setting.   The acting and singing were wonderful.  How else could this play have been done?  The music elevates the story, poeticizes it, universalizes it.

I hope to see Rockbound again when it comes to Chester Playhouse August 13-16.  Meanwhile it is playing until August 9 at Ross Creek.  Not to be missed.

Tamarack, Hackmatack, Juniper, and Larch

The things you notice with sunglasses on.  This time it was the surprising red colour of a newborn tamarack cone.  Even without sunglasses, they’re a beautiful red.

The red of young cones on the tamarack
The red of young cones on the tamarack

Ever since attending a concert by the Nova Scotian children’s entertainers The Wilderbeats, described in Rural Delivery magazine as “Madcap oracles of nature’s voice for a new generation,” looking at a tamarack tree makes me think of their Tamarack Song:

Tamarack, Hackmatack, Juniper, and Larch
Absolutely naked from November until March
It’s got CONES! and it’s got NEEDLES!
But it isn’t what it seems…
It’s decidedly deciduous and never evergreen

Of course, it’s not really a juniper, but that’s one of the many names people use for this conifer that sheds its needles every fall.