Sunday, February 14, 2010

Falling in Love…


Last fall I drove across America with Toulouse to make a new home in Nova Scotia. I’d left behind a marriage of twenty years, a son in university and some wonderful friends to make a new life as an artist on the east coast: I didn’t realize it but I was really travelling in search of love.

While my mind was prepared for the unfettered and uncompromising—though at times lonely—life of an artist, my soul was seeking something far more elusive. I’d picked the Maritimes as a home-base, based solely on what I’d heard of their simple genuine nature and their celebration of art and a vision I’d had of living there; I didn’t know a soul.

Toulouse and I made our way across the northern states and Canada, over mountains and dusty plains, revisiting old haunts like Murdo, South Dakota; Louisville, Kentucky; Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. As I got closer to the east, a strange thing happened…

First, let me tell you that my roots are in the east. I grew up in the French Canadian town of Granby, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, a landscape dominated by the four seasons. Where the wind is like a fist. My favorite season is the autumn, when Nature bursts with the brilliance of a diva on stage. She scatters flaming colors across the road. They soar like flocks of exotic birds, vaulting to a chaotic chorus, and cover the earth in a mantle of russet warm tones that smell of home.

…As Toulouse and I crested the mountain range into Wisconsin, tears of awestruck joy welled in my eyes. The most breathtaking and welcoming view unfolded before me: a vast carpet of rolling hills, quilted in the warm and brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of autumn. I knew I was home.

I ended my sojourn in the charming fishing port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a UNESCO designated World Heritage site, known for its ship-building, particularly the Bluenose II, and its fine dining, art and culture. Toulouse and I settled there and very quickly made some good friends.

But it was on my solo journeys through the South Shore area of Nova Scotia that I fell in love.

Yes, I fell in love.

I fell in love with the autumn. The brisk wind that brings with it the smell of soil and vegetation. The cold. The contrast. The surprises. My walks took me along paths and byways, through saltwater marsh and scrub woodland, to small quaint fishing villages, and art havens—among them Marriot’s Cove, Mahone Bay, Blue Rocks, Lunenburg, Bridgewater and Kingsburg, to name just a few.

The autumns here smell of “home”, of hot chocolate by the fire and a warm cat purring on my lap, of brisk winds howling some arcane whistle through the crack in the window. As I gaze out over the golden marsh, an earthy perfume enfolds me in a heady embrace. Inhaling deeply, I distinguish a chorus of autumn scents from the heavy musk of decaying vegetation to the sharpness of the dank earth itself. Fall in the Maritimes is a season that celebrates the power and beauty of Nature. Both forceful with her dramatic winds and beautiful in her proud display of exotic seeds and colours, Nature celebrates the ever-changing nature of life, its recursive cycles from one form to another, all bound together in celebration.

I fell in love with the winter. On my walks and drives west to Wolfville or south to Liverpool and north toward Chester, I encountered the crisp harshness of a true winter, defined by intense snow, wind, and ice. What bracing cold! What invigorating wind! To smell the cold snow and hear it crunch beneath my boots sent me reeling back to my childhood years. Snowball fights. Tobogganing. Snowshoeing. Sliding on the ice: Boom! Oops… a bit of soreness there…

Snow holds fond memories for me, of childhood innocence, dreams and wonder, of bracing adventure, and the comfort of a warm hearth. When I was still out west and we experienced an atypical snow dump once, I was compelled to write a blog post about snow and here is some of what I said in tribute of “snow”:

“A dump of snow covered the Earth in white billows. Huge flakes drifted down from heaven like confetti in a breeze. We are having a white Christmas—the first in over ten years here in Vancouver (on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada). And I love it.

“I love how the snow wraps everything in a blanket of soft acceptance. How it creates a dazzling face on a dark Earth. How it refuses to distinguish between artificial and natural. It covers everything—decorated house, shabby old car, willowy trees, manicured lawn—beneath its white mantle. I love how it quiets the Earth. Have you ever gone for a walk in the fresh snow? Boots crunching… snow glistening in the moonlight…

“Snow is magic. It reveals as it cloaks. Animals leave their telltale tracks behind their silent sleuthings.

Snow is playful. It beckons you to stick out your tongue and taste the clouds. Snow is like an unruly child. Snow is the trickster. It stirs things up. Makes a mess. It is the herald of change, invigorating, fresh and wondrous. Cars skid in it and squeal in objection. Grumpy drivers honk their horns, impatient to get home; while others sigh in their angry wake. Boys (of all ages) venture outside, mischief glinting in their eyes, and throw snowballs.”

The ice forms great crenulated chunks over the rocks along the sea shore near Bridgewater and Kingsburg. The tide breaks them up into surreal sculptures and clustered ice “pods”. As the light wanes on the shore of Blue Rocks, the sea ice glows with an eerie blue light, as if lit from below.


The weather shifts yet again and the morning calls up a mist that drapes its soft light over the landscape like a comfortable blanket. It paints the old craggy barns and gnarled bare trees in diaphanous near-monochromatic shades. The fog evokes reflection and the artist in me celebrates its call.

Lunenburg’s heritage houses, beautifully maintained with care, reflect the new snow that has fallen the night before. They beam like happy children under the crisp blue sky, as if they know they are beautiful.

I have no special “other” living with me, no partner, companion, or soul-mate to hug daily or kiss me good morning (NO! Toulouse doesn’t do those things! LOL! Too much fur! And too dignified). But…I choose to remain “in love”. For as long as my strength and spirit hold out. It’s the place to be. Because, to be in love is to live life to the fullest. And only Heaven knows what Spring and Summer hold in store for me...

Happy Valentine’s Day!


p.s. I should add that since I left family and friends behind, my virtual contact with them has kept us linked even more than we had ever been before…Thank you, Internet! Love to all.


Photos by Nina Munteanu:

1. Peggy's Cove at sunset
2. Nova Scotia marsh near Chester Basin
3. Dory shop, Lunenburg waterfront
4. Barn on road to Wolfville
5. House on road to Bridgewater
6. Road to Bridgewater
7. On the way to Kingsburg
8. On the way to Liverpool
9. Bluerocks
10. One of Lunenburg's heritage houses with famous "Lunenburg Bump"
11. Nina and Toulouse enjoy desert in Lane's Privateer Inn, Liverpool




Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.

17 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A wonderful post describing a rreal undiscovered gem.

Good reply to that spam in the comments, Nina!

SF Girl said...

LOL! I couldn't help it, Jean-Luc! Hehe...

dan said...

yes yes yes yes ten thousand times yes, what a lovely lovely lovely post this was and is... you are in love with the universe and that's real love....... i salute you, love poet!!!!!!!!!!

SF Girl said...

Danny, you are my warrior poet! :) Enthusiastic, joyous, and leading us on to victory.

I wish you well, my friend.
Nina

mattress said...

Some beautiful pictures on here and great info too.. Thanks you.

SF Girl said...

Thank you... :)

Darlene said...

A traveling person, can also say- the area which they land on, "I really love this area."

SF Girl said...

:) ... Thanks, Dar...

Heather Dugan (Footsteps) said...

Beautifully expressed, Nina. To know joy in the absence of our usual audiences of friends and family is pure emotional freedom!!

SF Girl said...

Thank you, Heather... Freedom always has its price...It takes emotional strength too and I must confess I don't always have it... That's when one special person can help... LOL! ... But when that special person just isn't there with you, you must either invent "them" there or re-invent yourself, I guess...

Allan Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allan Miller said...

Looking for this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igWw6MCmrK0)

I found this. Google serendipity; you might like the eponymous song. Falling in love is ...

Nice post (and let's hear it for snow one more time! Just spent the best UK winter for years listening to everyone else moaning)

SF Girl said...

Thanks, Allan! Wonderful song!

seekeroftruth said...

Stunning pictures!!!

-reader

SF Girl said...

Thank you. I enjoyed taking them...

Karen said...

Nina,

I think you've shown great courage. Well done, you!

SF Girl said...

Thank you, Karen... Thank you... God loves you.

I love you.

Your friend,
Nina