Saturday, November 1, 2008
Letter From Home
Our good friend Alexander Bridge (founder of "Safe Haven" Newfoundland Rescue) recently wrote of the beauty of the land from which we came. We want to share it because of the importance of remembering our origins and the civility and humanity which still exists in that beautiful place, way back home.
Letter From Tracadie, Nova Scotia
"The daylight is shrinking now. Giving up to the approaching winter
months. Christmas is only two months away. We have been here Nova
Scotia since late June.
"It is getting colder too with stronger north winds streaming in off
the Northumberland Strait. I am reminded too of the coming winter, by
a large yellow highway sign at Exit 37 on the Trans Canada Highway.
It's situated at the exit that leads down into Tracadie and warns
motorists in large black letters- 'CAUTION Blowing snow area.'
"Only one heron from the colony of nearly twenty blue herons remains.
He walks as though in slow motion, like a solider on patrol, through
the low marshland and across the mud flats by the causeway, searching
for food. The other herons have left the inlets, dispatched by an
innate inner clock and heading south for a warmer place. Ducks too
have gathered in noisy groups by the island estuary, and have this
week, moved on south. Just the black birds, gulls, field birds, and a
pair of bald headed eagles and a few loons remain.
"Last night, I stood outside the house on the shore of the West Arm
harbour basin, staring at the black sky that touches the even darker
silhouette of Cape George in the distance. I listen to the Canadian
National freight train lumbering through East and West Tracadie, about
a mile away, as the crow flies. The tired whistle offers a low moan.
The sound drifts on the wind then vanishes into the night sky.
"I remember a time, when only ten, my family an lived beside a train
track in a small Laurentian, Quebec town. The railway line connected
Montreal in the east to the western part of the country out beyond
Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, and finally to the west coast and
Vancouver. In my mind's eye I can still see those huge black lumbering
steam trains and the friendly engineers, bandanas wrapped around their
necks, who waved regularly as they passed by, carrying passengers by
day and late at night, an assortment of freight cars.
"Three locomotives are hauling over a hundred freight cars westward.
The screech of steel on steel can be heard as the procession slows
down through these little communities, crossing the old Highway 4
insertions, guarded by red flashing lights and vintage railway bells.
The trains hauls Cape Breton coal from up near Sydney, to the Nova
Scotia electric generating plants on the mainland, coming through at
least two or three times a day.
"The train also reminds me of a recent trip to our bank in Antigonish,
a small Main Street branch populated by my mostly female employees who
refer to you as 'dear', 'hon', or 'my darling'. I tell myself that on
days when I might feel a little low, to go in there, not to conduct
any business, but just to hear the confronting words of their warm
"I have come to town to make a deposit in our checking account. I tell
the teller, who has already greeted me as 'my dear', that I do not
have my bank card with me, or my account number. She looks at me
across the black Formica counter and smiles one of the most caring
smiles and asks- 'But you do know who you are dear, don't you?' I
smile back and offer a ready, reassuring 'Oh, yes.'
"We chat while she processes my deposit. Not recognizing me, she asks
if I am new to the area. I tell her about recently building a home in
Tracadie and how welcoming the people have been towards my wife and
myself. She nods her head and smiles knowingly, adding she lives in
Monastery, the next town over from us.
"Between the various pieces of the bank transaction I comment on the
large families in Tracadie. I mention a neighbour who was one of
sixteen children, and another neighbour, one of twelve.
"She smiles and asks, 'You know why the families are that size in
Tracadie don't you?' I offer 'No, why?'
"'Well', she says, delivering her answer with a slight a smile, 'The
train comes through Tracadie at two in the morning, waking everyone
up. So a wife will turn to her husband and say, 'Well what do we do
"Our contagious laughter can be heard from one end of the small bank to
other. I thank her for her help and the local information and leave,
the sound of 'See you again soon, dear,' drifting over my shoulder.
"I walk down Main Street back to the half full parking lot. A smile as
wide as any harvest moon on my face. 'I love this place', I mutter to
myself. 'I love this place and the people here.'"
(Alexander Bridge, October 25, 2008)
Wonderful writing from a wonderful person.