Monday, 19 September 2016

Matooke Times, Vol 1: Here we go again!

Well, it sure is a weird mixture of surreal and comfort being back in Uganda! I arrived safely Sunday afternoon after a series of long-ish flights, and immediately made my way to Jinja. 

I have to say, it was pretty spectacular to be greeted by a familiar face at the airport in the form of my favourite method of transport to Jinja - the Pineapple Express! (Cue MIA's Paper Airplanes while thinking of James Franco and Seth Rogan... as if there's ever a time that one is NOT thinking about those two!) The only thing better than knowing my transport was handled, was being additionally greeted by a beautiful Ugandan rainfall! And, for those of you outside of Canada - this was a welcomed sight after not seeing much of it in Canada all summer!

Given that I hadn't slept much on any of the planes (with the best sleep taking place on the 2-hour flight from Ethiopia to Uganda, and NOT the one from Toronto to Ethiopia!), I had many nod-offs along the nearly 3 hour drive from Entebbe to Jinja. The best was nodding off somewhere along the way, only to wake up in Mabira Rainforest - also known as, my favourite part of the drive to Jinja, which also happens to be sandwiched between tea estates! But, it was really interesting to be able to spot new developments and things that had changed - and man! Somethings had really changed!

My night in Jinja was pretty low-key. I looked at a few potential places of residence, and of course, indulged in the sweet, sweet tastes of Stoney* and pork! Oh Jinja pork joint, if you were in human form, I would have your babies! But I digress...

Monday started earlier than I had hoped. I had, had a fairly good sleep, but was awoken around 5:30 am to a couple of sirs speaking loudly in the lobby of the guesthouse. Then around 7 I heard thunder in the distance and knew I needed to get a move on if I was going to get to the taxi park before it began to rain. I was thankful to have arrived and just boarded a coaster** to Kampala as the rain began to fall. 

After another drive filled with dozing off and on, I arrived in Kampala just as the rain began to fall heavily there. My pal - and boda driver - Adolf, met me where I was dropped, and we caught up while waiting for the rain to die down in a bank ATM kiosk. Then we made our way to my former place of employment - the Food Rights Alliance office. 

A few of the old crew at FRA headquarter.
Unfortunately, when I arrived at the office I learned half of my former colleagues had left the day before for a field visit. But it was still nice to catch up with and surprise the few that were around! Seriously, I wish I had been filming the reactions of two individuals in particular, because they obviously had no idea I was back in town! And after lunch (which included my favourite Ugandan food item - mattock!) with the gang, I made my way to Ggaba where I'll be staying for the next several days. 

A good Ugandan lunch, matched with some Dartmouthian coffee - sadly my first of the day...
It was really nice to be able to catch up with a few folks and to see some familiar sights around the city. I have to say its been quite strange to be back in Uganda. I think this is partly because in someways it feels like I've never left, while on the other hand it feels like it has been a very long time since I was last here. It is also likely the result of this theoretical project coming to life after months of talking about making it happen. But despite the moments of surreal-ness, it's pretty wonderful to be back. 

I have a pretty busy week ahead, and I'll be sure to update you as I go. But until then, I want to say a big thank you to everyone that has sent thoughts and well wishes over the last couple of days. I am one pooped/jet-lagged puppy!

Sula bulungi,
-the Orange Canadian

*I don't even care that you're a Coca Cola product! ...too much. 
**A safer version of taxi.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Canada... I think we need to talk

Dear Canada,

We've been together nearly every day of my 31 years on earth, and I've enjoyed this time for the most part. But lately, there's been a distance growing between us, and I think it's time we take a break. I'm not saying this is a definitive thing, but perhaps we could both benefit from a bit of space. You know, you see other people, I see other countries - keep it casual and see where we are in a few years.

I know this has probably blindsided you, but what I'm about to tell you has been bottling inside me for a while now, but mostly over the last year and a half - about the time the whole refugee debacle started. You know, where you opened your beautiful arms to those who really needed your gentle and welcoming embrace, but were greeted with racism, ignorance, and a government that handled the negativity derived from the situation in a really poor manner.

Growing up, I carried a certain pride about my relationship with you. You made me feel safe, secure, and well, this allowed me to remain ignorant to the realities of the outside world. I'm not saying you were overprotective but, you did a great job of sheltering me. And this was greatly appreciated as a small child. But, as my adult brain began to develop, I obtained the ability to think (a lot!), and eventually began to critically look at the world around me, and how you interacted with it.

Up until about a year or so ago, this didn't detract from my love for you. I still proudly sported your maple leaf on my backpack as I began to travel the world. I spoke highly of your natural beauty, your kind and warm-hearted people, and the many, many things I once believed made Canada the greatest place ever. Now, I'm not saying these characteristics don't still apply, they've just become a little tainted in my view. And this is what leads us to our recently surfaced problem.

After spending 6 months in Uganda, I was not looking forward to heading back home to you. It’s not that I didn’t want to be in the embrace of your familiarity, but more so that I was really starting to get settled with friends and a routine in Uganda. 

Shortly after I arrived back to you, I was offered a temporary position with the federal Government. I wasn’t overly excited about this new-found employment, but it was a job, and a well paying one at that. By taking it, it meant I could pay the bills and save up enough money to head back to Uganda for another 6 months at the end of the summer.

As my time in this position progressed, I started to notice patterns. For one, the people I interacted with who seemed to be the most reluctant and who were the most hostile to communicate with were usually those who would be benefitting the most from the very work I was part of. In some ways it is the same as the bully in school who really just wanted to be accepted, but through lack of confidence and support, lashed out instead of being welcoming and open to forming new friendships. Simplistic in comparison? Possibly. But accurate? For certain. 

In many of the above instances I would attempt to argue all the wonderful reasons why said individual should converse with me. But mostly, I tried to speak from personal experience, rather than listing off a collection of suggested rebuttals provided in my manual. My go-to, was always education. I often heard misguided assumptions about how no one used the information generated from the conversations I would have with them and how it had no impact. But speaking as someone highly interested in their circumstances both here at home and with like-people abroad, I would try to discuss how their insight would be used by students eager to understand the sector in Canada, or to create new processes that would increase efficiency. But alas, most were just not interested. 

It was in these instances that it took a lot to not default on “I’ve lived in ___ and let me tell you how things work there…” But it’s true. Over the last two years, which have included living in and travelling to several countries, I have been a witness many things that have caused me to take a step back and simply appreciate where I am from. And having gone through the recent National Election in Uganda as a bystander, it was disheartening to see so many people's democratic rights taken away - their voice stripped without ability to recover it. The people I have called during my summer with with the feds frequently spoke of corruption and poor decision-making by the government. And although I do agree that corruption exists in the 'ol Government of Canada, it angers me, knowing that countless people the world over are literally fighting - dying even - for the same luxuries these individuals were complaining about.

But this wasn’t what killed my soul. Yes, it made some days more difficult than others. Yes, it made me appreciate all that I have and the privilege I just so happened to be born into (but that also come from my fortunate ability to access higher-level education). No, it wasn’t even remotely as disheartening as the other trend I noticed. That trend - blatant, unapologetic racism.

Now, I’m not saying that a few hundred people are a full representation of my country, nor am I suggesting that these same people are all terrible people, with ill-will for others. But for the first time in my life, I actually found myself questioning the ‘polite, friendly, open and welcoming’ stereotype I have happily embraced about you. And yes, I certainly had a taste of this during the recent refugee panic at the beginning of the year. I guess I just never realized how ridiculous people truly are.

When I started to pay more attention to the previous calls verses their outcomes, I discovered that an uncomfortably large proportion of people turned down calls from people with non-Canadian sounding voices or names. This became even more obvious when I was upgraded to refusal conversion. Many of the calls made before mine were completed by staff members whose names did not align with the traditional Canadian ones. Good, hardworking people were being rudely spoken to just because they potentially weren’t born here. But this is Canada for goodness sakes! I thought you were supposed to be the multi-cultural country that trumped (no pun intended) the melting pot society of your neighbours to the south (and no, I don’t mean Mexico!). And yet, here I am, witnessing the same actions I hear others criticizing the United States for! 

But this isn't just about how you are perceived from the outside, it's also about your inner self. Sure, you come with a lot of benefits - healthcare, public education, social programs, and the weekly anticipation derived from not knowing what outlandish fabric Don Cherry will be sporting on Coaches Corner every Saturday evening from October to April. But, you have also allowed yourself to forget many of your own. Many veterans are struggling to find extended healthcare services (particularly for mental health issues), affordable housing, and/or elder care. The treatment of your Indigenous people has also gotten out of hand, where many of your citizens don't actually understand the conditions these individuals find themselves in - the root causes being a lack of social programs, access to potable water, education, healthcare - all because  many firmly, yet wrongly, believe they get a free ride underscored with not paying taxes. And then there's those who exploit the rights granted from an agreement between the then Government of Canada and the indigenous people made many years ago, by happily accepting the benefits given to them, without actually engaging with the culture itself. The racial, homophobic, religious, and many other unacceptable views of your people by privileged, does-not-apply-or-actually-affect-mes appears to be at an all-time high. It needs to stop. That we can come together for the pending death of one man, whether we were fans of his music or not, but can't seem to get our heads straight on the real values that once made this country great doesn't make sense. And as a result, I'm tired. 

So, on that note, I hate to love you and leave you, as my grandmother often says, but I think as my time home is coming to a close, it makes for the perfect time to take a much needed break. I think it will give us both time to consider what we value in this
relationship, who we want to be independent of each other, as individuals, but also as a team. And don't worry, I'll be sure to keep in touch with you. I'll follow you from afar via your public broadcasting corporation (or what's left of it). And, I'll continue to defend you should those situations arise. But until the day we reunite once again, I ask that you take a deep breath and a step back and look at who you are becoming. Maybe you were always this way, but you did a better job of hiding it back then. Or maybe I am no longer content living in a bubble. Either way, you need to figure yourself out. 

So, until then, I wish you the best. Take care of yourself.

your Orange Canadian

Thursday, 15 September 2016

"The Dark Continent" - ...ugh.

Warning: I may offend a number of you with this post. This is not my intent - I'm just venting. Should I offend you, I would encourage you to discuss this with me further.

I'm frustrated about the language I've heard while gearing up to head back to Uganda. I'm also frustrated with being told that I'm being oversensitive when I attempt to correct the language used. What language, you ask? Well, two things, the use of 'Africa' as a singular entity, and having it being referred to as "the dark continent."

Allow me to tackle the first. Africa is a continent... which I know many of you know, because you've referred to it as the latter. Going to Africa would be like saying going to North America or Europe, and yet, no one says that. In fact most use the term America to refer to one* of several countries that make up NORTH America or the Americas, in general**.

Now to the latter... the dark continent... really? There are so many terrible implications in using this term when referencing the African continent. Sure, a good number of individuals that find themselves deriving from said part of the world happen to have darker skin (which in comparison to me, makes pretty much any individual found anywhere on this great planet of ours darker skinned than I!), but this is only one of the meanings behind this reference.

Most notably, it refers to the misconception that Africa is made up of nothing more than poor, backwards, loin-cloth sporting folks that are devoid of Western things such as cars, electricity, cell phones or really any form of modern day technology. And while some of these aren't always a given on the continent, to call it THE dark continent is riddled with racial implications.

As I'm getting older, I've become acutely more aware of the impact of my place of origin (which will be tackled in a later post), skin tone, and the overall privilege that comes from both of those things***. This has likely made me a bit sensitive to how language is used to describe certain nouns. And, I'm guilty of using terminology that when I think about it after the fact, I realize, while I may have said it innocently, the meaning behind it may not be so innocent (and is the same situation for those of you who may have made this reference in my presence).

But the reference of Africa as the dark continent**** irks me more than others, because the Africa I have come to know (and yes, I realize I've only seen a minuscule fraction of it!) is not what is often meant when this term is thrown out there. You don't have to look far to see images I have personally captured***** that show the true beauty of some of Africa's landscapes. I have shared stories with you about incredible and inspiring people of all ages that I have met along the way (the school kids in Ghana, the farmer in Eastern Uganda to name a few) who prove that "Africa" is more than just a 2-minute infomercial from World Vision. And so it really angers me to hear people I love using such a term without thinking about the impact of doing so.

The actual origins of this term begin in the 19th century. It was used to reference the unknown of Africa, but has since developed - as I've noted above - to include the many stereotypes of underdevelopment believed to exist throughout the continent. It is coated in ignorance, racism, and several other issues. It's an outdated term that has been proven false time and time again. Yet, here we are using it freely without actually considering what is being implied. And that isn't okay. We talk a big talk here in "the West" about not using sexist language, about anti-bullying protocol******, and yet, we still haven't figured out how to erase casual racial slurs from our vocabulary.

It's a harsh world we live in. That's part of the natural, everyday process of life, but we don't need to make it any harder by continuing centuries of ignorance. I, for one, am working consciously at discontinuing some of the language choices that have passed as acceptable for far too long. But, I believe it's equally important to explain the why being the action, as it is to put that act in motion. So I ask you to think about what you're saying, think about the implications behind using and the origins of certain words. And better yet, referring to the first rant of this post (although it really applies to both), take the time to ask questions. Find out where an individual is going and do a little research about that area. And I would encourage that for any area of the world one might be going, not just the African continent. If we fail in doing this, we fail in becoming better humans.

-the Orange Canadian

*the United States, but I digress...
**The reference as AMERICA to solely the United States is one of my greatest pet peeves! I think the Arrogant Worms sum this up perfectly.
***I don't get the grand-slam/tic-tac-toe of white privilege because I wasn't born a man, sadly.  
****In response to this one, though, I would argue that Canada or "the West" is/are the true dark continent/continents. But doing so is completely dependent on my energy level and the other persons likelihood of digesting my rebuttal (which in and of itself is flawed on my part, I know). 
*****Found right here in this blog in past posts!
******Not that we're doing overly well on those either, but at least there's a priority and conversation started about them. Black Lives Matter anyone? Where white people are still trying to make it about them...

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Make-Shift GoPro Kayaking Adventures

Well, my summer at home is quickly coming to an end. This was marked not just be the changing leaves I've seen travelling around the province or the cooler night-time temperatures, but by taking my final kayak trip before I head back to Uganda*.

I was able to enjoy a really great 2-hour trip as my final go. This was far better than the previous day's attempt - an attempt that didn't see me even getting the paddle in the water. You that saying put your best foot forward? Well, I didn't. This led me to a pretty comedic wipeout, resulting in many bumps and bruises. It also resulted in my use of a certain "firetruck" word a minimum of 47 times, while trying to get my flooded rig out of the water**.

Anyway, my 2-hour adventure was the perfect ending to a great summer of kayak trips in beautiful St. Margaret's Bay. And because I want to keep those memories close, I decided to create a makeshift GoPro and film a bit of this last trek.

Along the way, though, I caught some interesting sights. These included watching cormorants and loons swim alongside me, to witnessing an eagle swoop down in front of me in a failed attempt to catch some breakfast, to the interesting happenings under the clear water below me. Here's a few above water shots I captured.

Post-kayak wild blackberry snack!
Nova Scotia really is a pretty beautiful place to live (or visit). There are countless opportunities to explore such a variety of outdoor activities across the province. And while I don't usually miss this place when I'm away, I do love getting to engage with nature when I come home.

I'll close with some wise words from Canadian fitness legends Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod***:

Image source:
-the Orange Canadian

*Where I hope to upgrade my skills and experience from sea to Nile rapid capabilities. 
**This would have been a far easier feat had the act of pulling the kayak out of the water not involved getting it over a 5-foot rock wall... Which, coincidentally led to the majority of my bumps and bruises both before and during the kayak's removal from the water!
***Who were unfairly terminated from Amazing Race Canada...

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

What is Poor?

Today I sat with a few of my coworkers at lunch, while discussing one heavy topic - poverty. I had joined in mid-way, just as one was talking about how even when they are struggling here in Nova Scotia, people back home didn't take these complaints seriously because they were in America.

This ideology or understand of what America is has been something I have thought about frequently in the past year or so. At times, I have encountered what I like to call hardship bingo where players either intentionally or unintentionally try to out-do others in the conversation with antidotes of who's had it worse. And, this almost never ends well. The reality is, no country is completely devoid of hardship - poverty is felt in all areas of the world, because it's a social phenomenon. The problem of comparing poverty is that the contexts of said poverty are somewhat drastic, depending on where we're talking.

I have mentioned in previous posts and in many conversations both in and out of my academic and professional careers about my own experience living below Canada's poverty line. This is what I refer to as "Canadian poor," which shows similar characteristics of poverty in other countries, but in no way compares to most. Never have I entered into a conversation about my experiences with an intention of trying to out-do someone else's experiences - regardless of where they are from - because for those who have felt poverty, the instability of meeting basic needs, it is very personal.

The reality is - and I'll be the first to admit this - that no matter how rough we may have it in Canada, there are, unfortunately, far worse conditions out there. And this is pretty much were I joined the conversation.

Yes, I may have lived on $12/week in the first year of my undergrad for food, and sure, I watched my mother skip meals so that my brother and I could have a roof over our head and three meals a day. But that's the point. At all times, experiencing (what could arguably be considered the top end of Canadian poor) these instances of poverty growing up and even in my adulthood, I still had three meals a day - nutritional value aside - and a roof over my head. My taps leaked fresh, potable water within milliseconds of turning them on. I didn't worry about being out on the streets, because there are social programs that aim to prevent that (even if they don't always work). I didn't have to worry about healthcare because that comes with my citizenship/passport. Oh, and I was making the decision to remain in school... university even! These are all things that do not come so easily to everyone, further reinforcing my privilege - a privilege that was bestowed upon me by chance, completely out of my control.

I have seen poverty outside of Canada. I've witnessed it first hand. It's frustrating - because so much of the poverty I have encountered is systemic - it's curable! The problems, the very foundations of its being are rooted in mismanagement, inequality, and lack of education. The latter is probably the most essential component, and yet the most frustrating, cyclical aspect of it all. Studies have shown (Google it!) the impact of education on many social issues (health, socioeconomics, women's rights, etc. to name a few) is incredible. Yet, for the vast majority, obtaining an education - even basic education - is a luxury; it's unattainable. But, not because these individuals are intellectually capable, but because in the choice between feeding yourself or your family and getting an education, one weighs more heavily and has far more obvious short-term effects than the other.

Recently I have had a few conversations with people - friends - who have asked me how I handle being in a place where I'm constantly surrounded by poor people. To be honest, most times I'm fairly oblivious because of the way it is framed. This is because, even though it is sometimes painful to hear or see how poverty is impacting people around me, there's one great difference between attitudes of those suffering from poverty in Canada (or the West), and those from other countries (which from my personal, first-hand experiences include Ghana, Uganda, and to a lesser extend, Kenya). In Canada we focus on what we are without. We complain about not having certain things. Heck - even when we have access to disposable income we still complain about the things we do not have. But outside of the West, I've seen people fight - taking on multiple jobs, working and/or developing community groups dedicated to addressing specific issues, whatever it takes. Yet, they are also some of the most kind, compassionate, giving people. I continue to be amazed and humbled by the generosity of the many Africans I have met while attending church services when in country. That they would hand a few bills each week at their Sunday service**, despite the fact that they are having their own struggles is something we Westerners could really learn a thing or two from. Poverty outside of the West is without a doubt far more harsh, and yet those I have met laugh more, are more appreciative of what they have, and are the first to give the shirt of their back for a fellow human in need without even blinking an eye.

To close, I just want to make sure anyone reading this knows I'm not painting all of anything with the same brush. Canadian poor can be devastating and hard to get out of. Likewise, all Africans are not poor. In fact, many have done quite well for themselves... many have not. But, many Canadians have done well for themselves, while others have not. My point is not to create the foundation for another round of hardship bingo, but to reinforce that no matter how little or how much we may have, we need to be more appreciative of what is within out reach - be it the tangible or intangible. But, perhaps we need to focus more on the intangible inventory, rather than our physical possessions.

Despite the fact that my brain has been circling this conversation from earlier and piecing together my own thoughts from the past few weeks, it was really refreshing to have such a conversation at work. I'm also happy to report that at least one week has passed without a lunchtime update of Pokemon. So... there's that.

-the Orange Canadian

*I would assume those attending services on other days of the week are equally as generous, I have just not had the pleasure of attending any of these services. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

On Sharks and Climate Change Science

So over the last number of weeks I have been enjoying some time on the water in my kayak.

But this relaxing, negative-energy-releasing activity was put to a pretty dead halt a few Friday evenings ago, moments before arriving at my grandmother's, and a few hours before heading back out onto the water for what was supposed to be a weekend full of kayaking adventures. You see, just as the bus was pulling into the Tantallon shopping centre (or whatever it's called), I received a message from my brother that a video of a recent shark attack, in the very area I kayak, had surfaced.

First, let's get one thing straight - I'm not afraid of sharks... I'm afraid of looking like the perfect snack for one of them. What I mean is, the rational part of my brain recognizes that a shark attack is relatively low. But, that doesn't overly comfort me, especially since I do all my trips solo. The fear I felt was mostly based out of the unknown. What happens if I spot one? What do I do if one attacks my kayak? What if I fall out of the kayak during an attack? These are all rational questions. But again, the likelihood of that same shark - be it a great white or other species - finding me in the small cove I kayak in is relatively low.

But, I feel this gives me an opportunity to look at the larger story here... a little something I like to call Climate Change.

In the last few decades we have heard statements such as "Climate change isn't real!" "How can we be experiencing global warming, when we're seeing colder than usual temperatures or later amounts of snowfall?" "Climate change is just a bunch of hippie propaganda" or any number of the others from the never ending list of climate change denials... a denialist? But, let me assure you, climate change is very real.

One of the biggest problems with climate change, is that in many ways, its impact on our daily lives (especially those of us lucky enough to be from a North American or European country... for the most part) is relatively slow. In the same way that paint goes from wet to dry over a series of hours without us supervising it, toxins in our system built up over years of inhaling polluted air or chemicals from processed foods is leading to higher instances of cancer and other illnesses, climate change isn't something that happens overnight... okay, well, maybe the paint example doesn't fit this. But, the point is - it's a slow, gradual process. Also for the record - climate change is a naturally occurring process that has been augmented by human activity. Humans are not the sole reason it exists, and would happen whether or not we were on this planet.

Back to my point - one of the ways in which we have been seeing visible signs of climate change has been through water. We've seen the Greenland ice sheet begin to melt at record levels, and water temperatures have also begun to rise. Don't believe me? Check out the clip below from an excellent documentary called Chasing Ice.

Water temperatures have risen* so much in the last several years that coral reefs are becoming depleted, aquatic species are beginning to migrate further, and in many cases these same species are searching for food from collapsing food stocks (another issue desperately in need of being addressed!), but also because warmer temperatures are inviting. No truer has this statement been than in the last several years in Atlantic Canada. Water temperatures are on a continual high, which has brought unusual-to-the-area visits from a range of aquatic life, including the suspected recent visitor, great white sharks. It's also part of the reason we're seeing a higher frequency of more intense hurricanes (although I'll admit, I'm quite disappointed we haven't had one in Nova Scotia lately... and yes, I realize I will likely eat those words at some point in the future.)

The ocean temperates aren't the only signs of climate change. Think about the variations in crop production. Nova Scotia is now temperate enough to produce its own wine, using grapes grown in the province's valley region. Varieties of melons and other fruits and vegetables are now possible to be grown in the area outside of a greenhouse or other form of temperature controlled climate. Meanwhile, other parts of the world that use to grow certain crops more easily are starting to show signs of the difficulty in producing, well... anything.

Herein lies the problem, though, because of the slow onset of most of the visible signs of climate change it makes it really easy to deny its existence. It also means that for most of us, dealing with climate change - whether combating it or just plain living with it - means changing our lifestyles. Right now our climate denial attitudes allow us to live comfortably in our one-time-use, throw-away, convenience-based societies. But, if we want to get really serious about maintaining the planet for our own use and longevity, we will need a drastic rehaul in our current ways of living. And better yet, we need to start this process before the slow onset takes on a more overnight appearance.

So what to do? Well, that's really the big question. We all have a responsibility in this, and we all have to start somewhere. Small steps are equally important, if we all get on board (perhaps quit complaining about the inconvenience of sorting out garbage, for one!). I certainly don't have all the answers, and I don't believe anyone does, but there are many initiatives out there to help you and everyone else start the process. All it takes is a little research and some degree of dedication to the cause.

But, to end on a lighter note, I'm happy to report that this past weekend, I successfully completed three relaxing kayak trips, as well as one swim in the (hopefully) now shark-free waters. It also turned out that the reported great white witnessed in the video above was actually a 12-foot mako shark. That scares me. Less.

-the Orange Canadian

*Don't worry, you'll still be able to lose the feeling in your toes wthin minutes after dipping them into any eastern Canadian ocean!

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Healthy Harvests, Weekend Shenanigans and Quiet Reflection of a Past Tragedy

This past weekend kicked off with a pretty great harvest from my garden. Lot's of hot peppers, weirdly shaped carrots and some mystery peas that were grown from seeds labelled "green beans." I also picked a good stash of tomatoes that may have been eaten before I photo could be taken!

After a day at work, I boarded the 330 bus to Tantallon, where my grandmother was waiting for me. We greeted each other with the same surprising news (that story is for another day), and then made our way to Ingramport (aka no technology land - named as such for the lack of technology that exists or works at this location!). 

After dinner, Grammy suggested taking our tea outside to enjoy the cool and calm evening. This was the sunset we witnessed! The picture obviously does it no justice!

My grandmother's backyard.
Saturday, like Thursday, was a failed adventure since we were fog and rained out for most of it. But the two of us had fun exploring. The highlight was a visit with my grandmother's best friend Margaret - the most positive and incredible woman ever, who also happened to get a little Sidney Crosby fame a few weeks ago when he visited Camp Hill in Halifax. 

When we returned home, I decided to go check on the wild blueberries I randomly discovered growing a few months ago. It was quite the harvest!

There'll be plenty more where these bad boys came from!
I thought it important to provide my finger for scale. Smallest blueberries I've ever seen!
On Sunday, we took a drive to Bayswater, where a second (and unknown to me until the previous day) Swissair Memorial can be found. The other is near Peggy's Cove. 

The drive out was stunning, as most of the way is along a windy coastal road. And, with the sun shinning, it made it even more spectacular. It makes it really hard to watch the road when you have that to distract you! 

The memorial site itself was simple but impactful. This is the site where bodies of the victims have been laid to rest. It is covered by a forest canopy while overlooking the ocean. My grandmother and I were both amazed how that event happened almost 20 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. What a terrible time for so many families - but I was to be from Nova Scotia knowing and seeing so many people step up to care for those who had suddenly lost loved ones. 

Photo above is of the memorial site, and below the parking lot.
Such a tranquil resting place for such a horrific ending.
A few shots from along the road across the street.  Such a beautiful part of the world.

The weekend concluded with a relaxing read nap on the hammock. 

I couldn't have asked for a better weekend considering the disruption of my original plans due to a lurking, unwanted visitor (again, for a later post! I need to build suspense somehow!). Love getting to spend time in this place and with my grandmother. 

-the Orange Canadian