Cape Breton, High and Low

2

June 22, 2022, Whycocomagh, NS-I had originally come here to this island of both intense and sublime beauty, to honour the First Nations people who keep the flame of dignity and well-being, for all creatures, alive and well. The person who I was hoping to meet, along those lines, had to work extra long hours and our meeting is deferred until next Wednesday. I did meet a young First Nations lady who works for Parks Canada, and who processed my admission to Cape Breton Highlands. I also encountered a road crew of Miqmak people, who were clearing what appeared to have been a serious rock slide, on the Cabot Trail.

Cape Breton is defined, topographically, by two features: The mountains of the Highland region and Bras D’Or Lake (Pronounced “Brah Dor”, though a local wag once had a restaurant he called The Old Brass Door, situated on the lake shore.), representing the forces of uplifting and nurturing. The lake, a salty offshoot of the Atlantic Ocean, extends virtually the length of eastern Cape Breton, from St. Peter’s, in the southeast, to Sydney Mines, in the northeast.

Here are a few views of Bras D’Or, from near Fair Isle Motel, where I am staying, and a viewpoint close to the Cabot Trail’s southern entrance

Bras D’Or Lake, near Watogomah First Nations Community, NS

Less than twenty minutes later, the view changed dramatically, as the clockwise route around the Cabot Trail beckoned.

View from Cabot Trail, near Nyanza, NS

The road ran out, briefly, just shy of Margaree, as the aforementioned crew had me turn around and use a short detour. Once back in the Margaree region, views of a healthy river and the Atlantic were abundant.

Here is a view of the Margaree River.

Margaree River, near its namesake town, Cape Breton Island

Next are some views of the coast, in western Cape Breton.

Margaree Harbour, NS
Margaree Harbour Beach
Beach at Cheticamp Island, NS

The three main communities of Cape Breton are the Miqmak First Nation, the Scots and the French-speaking Acadiens, distant cousins of Louisiana’s Cajuns-those who left Atlantic Canada, after the French and Indian War of 1756-63. The Acadien communities, such as Cheticamp, are very much thriving today.

Paroisse St. Pierre, Cheticamp

It was time to go up into Cape Breton Highlands, so after gassing up, in Cheticamp, I went to the Park Visitor Center, where the young lady I mentioned earlier greeted me warmly and sold me the admission pass. The mountains themselves were not long in providing a warm greeting of their own.

Here is Grande Faillante:

Grande Faillante, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Next is La Bloc.

La Bloc, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Sorry to have to do this, but the photos will have to stop here, so that I may get this out. Something is blocking my uploading of photos, regardless of which platform I use (whether Chrome or Firefox). I had to fight to get these last two photos posted. Wanting to keep this series going, so, for now, let words suffice. When I get this issue resolved, photos will be posted of the rest of Cabot Trail.

From La Bloc, the Cabot Trail goes on to the glorious greens of French Mountain and MacKenzie River Valley. The view of Pleasant Bay, from the top of the switchbacks to its north, is nothing short of breathtaking. Green Cove, between Pleasant Bay and Ingonish, allows for clambering and being as one with a smoothed mass of boulders, jutting out into the sea. There were many doing just that, including a mother and daughter who sat in meditation, as the rest of us took in the clifftop view of the Atlantic. The scene would repeat itself at MacKinnon’s Cove and at North Beach, in Ingonish.

By the time I reached Tartans and Treasures, in Dingwall, it would have been easy to identify with the “cranky” Scottish owner (“Patrick was a saint, but I ain’t”)-but the scenery is too soothing, so I got a second wind and kept on, past St. Ann’s and the “north” junction with Highway 105, which took me back to Bayside, which was full with golfers and day fishermen, as well as tired waitresses-who nonetheless took my order-the last one of the evening. The chowder was again superb. Getting back to Fair Isle, I got laundry done and am now ready for a good night’s rest.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Newfoundland.

Unrecognized Truth; Unparalleled Beauty

2

June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.

There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”

I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.

Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.

Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.

Rail bridge, across St. John River, Fredericton

Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.

Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.

Entry to Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac, NB
Exercise incline, Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac
An image, creating an image, Shediac Centre
Shediac Harbour, on Northumberland Strait

As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.

I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.

A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.

Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.

The Harder the Resistance…

2

June 13, 2022, Enid- I woke up nicely, in Gallup, though a bit groggy at first, after an interesting dream. In it, I was in a cabin, near what appears to be Badger Peak, just east of Prescott. There a Maine Coon cat which was my companion. I went outside to the outdoor shower, and when I came back, the kitty had been joined by a mountain lion, which paid me scant attention, as he was just sitting and looking out the window, much as a house cat might. I went out again and was hiking towards Prescott, on the Turley Trail. A rather large serval cat was following me, which was odd, as these cats are native to North Africa. Odder still, the serval was joined by others, who were led by a wolf, and they encircled me, closing in slowly but surely. Of a sudden, a growl and a crash through the brush produced the mountain lion, which first took out the wolf, biting him in the neck, then decimated several of the servals, causing the others to flee in panic. The dream ended with the lion, the Maine Coon and me, back in the cabin.

I had a nice, if long, drive to Enid today. It started with a delectable red chili burrito, one of the best I’ve ever had, in over thirty five years in the Southwest, at Glenn’s Bakery, on Gallup’s Near West Side. From there, after I bumbled along Santa Fe Avenue for a bit, I was headed east on I-40. A few construction projects (part of the New Mexico Governor’s highway improvement initiative) met me here and there, through Tucumcari. There was also a small dust storm near Milan, in the Black Rock country around Grants. Otherwise, it was clear sailing, from Gallup through Tucumcari, and on up through the Texas Panhandle to Dalhart and over to Woodward, just west of here. I took lunch at a rest stop near Wagon Wheel, watching a little girl who appeared confused and a rather scruffy individual who was watching her as well. The girl made her way safely to her mother’s side and the other individual went back to his truck. My monitoring role remained just that.

Late in the evening, I arrived at the home of John Glaze, a longtime friend here in Enid. His new dog, a rescue blue healer named “Hugs”, let me know, really fast, that my welcome would have to be earned. After being discouraged from snarling, by John, a few treats from me and John’s cat jumping up on my lap for some petting, “Hugs” changed his tune.

This brings me to the title of this post. Whenever one tries to do something big, or novel, there is resistance-usually from the powers that be. Note that, after the resignation of Richard Nixon from the Presidency, in 1974, the lords of finance and industry struck back with a vengeance, leading to the price increases and stock market declines that were dubbed “stagflation” by Nixon’s successor, Gerald R. Ford, and which bedeviled the tenure of Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter. The Big Dogs got their wish, in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan.

I see the same thing happening now. Price increases, coupled with stock market declines-both seeming to be irreversible-except they aren’t. Even the Great Depression came to an end, because no one, no matter how self-important or greedy they are, individually or as a group, can destroy a society. The Big Dogs are doing nothing so much as shooting themselves in the feet, sowing the seeds of their own downfall, more than causing the permanent impoverishing of the common people.

I, and people like me, will continue to follow our hearts and do what we need to do. If most, or all, of our financial resources are stolen from us, we will generate new resources and keep on with what we are doing. I get this resolve from my maternal grandfather, who was told by the bankers, in the thick of the Great Depression, that they would soon own his house and his car. He never gave them either. My grandmother, and her fourth son, after she died, kept the house in the family name-until he died in 1994. His widow sold the house, of her own volition. It is still in private hands. The car was sold after Papa died, but only because Grandma never learned to drive. He taught his children: “Never give the puppet masters what they demand. God, alone, deserves our fealty.” That lesson was passed on to all of us grandkids.

Tomorrow, my journey will be relatively short- Enid to Sarcoxie, MO, where a paternal cousin and her family await.

Heat Haze

4

June 11, 2022- As I walked around the Farmers’ Market today, I was struck by the fact that people I’ve known for eleven years seemed oddly disconnected. A friend who was with it figured the others were just struggling with the heat, which always seems worse, just before the monsoons hit. As a nearby community had rain in buckets, yesterday, this makes a fair amount of sense.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest of days, then it is forecast that the area will see a slight decrease in temperature. I would not be surprised if I drive into rain, tomorrow afternoon, on the first leg of a journey east and north. There are many who either have, or are, embarking on journeys of this type. One said he is doing this to stick it to the “Big Dogs”, who he sees as simultaneously jacking up gas prices and selling off large amounts of stock. That seems a bit simplistic, but nothing surprises me anymore.

I do agree with him, that we need not ask permission of anyone, before following our inner promptings. At the same time, one has to keep an eye on reality and be happy with as much of those inner promptings as may be successfully realized. There is always a reason why some goals must be left for a later date. For example, my original plan to visit Newfoundland was made in 2013, but other concerns took precedence, that summer. I had a plan to try again to visit that island, in 2020, and we all know what got in everyone’s way then. This year seems like the right time, and I will still be happy with wherever I manage to get.

The Universe and spirit guides point us in a certain direction, but it is our own purity of motive that will get us there and back. I pray to not be misdirected by the haze of a hot temper or foggy logic.

The Cost of CC&Rs

4

June 7, 2022- I read an article, a few minutes ago, about Great Salt Lake being in danger of becoming Great Salt Lick. In my lifetime, Salton Sea, Aral Sea and Arizona’s own Stoneman Lake have virtually disappeared. I have seen huge salt licks in Nevada, which, though tourist-sites on their own, do not provide sustenance to those who live nearby. They used to be part of Lake Lahontan, which is still large, but not the behemoth it once was.

The lake, though, is not what drew those whose choices are endangering it. They came for the mountains-the Wasatch Front, which borders the Salt Lake City-Provo-Brigham City metro area on the east. They are often forced by Homeowners Associations to use exorbitant amounts of water, to maintain the green lawns which the HOAs and their attorneys regard as essential to maintaining property values. Yet, here’s the rub: The very people on whom these lawyers depend for their communities’ survival will move, maybe en masse, if the lake is sacrificed for the grass AND the toxic soil that is left behind becomes windblown, creating the sort of haboobs that sometimes torment Phoenix and its eastern and southern suburbs. The difference is that the Salt Lake bed contains huge amounts of arsenic, which would be blown eastward, into the lungs of HOA directors and tenants alike. HOAs in the Phoenix area long ago began transitioning to xeriscapes in their neighbourhoods’ yards. My guess is that Utah, being also largely in a desert environment, will have little choice in the long run, but to do the same.

Then again, there are those bottom lines to consider.

The Walls We Build

4

June 1, 2022- It took a bit of processing, as I joined a meeting and was greeted with: “Someone else (meaning me) is on the space now. I don’t want to keep talking about this.” I had met one of the people in person, a few days ago, and found her to be the opposite of the individual who was now bemoaning my presence and forgotten my name. As it transpired, the topic of their conversation was nothing confidential, though I kept to the sidelines, out of courtesy.

A few hours ago, I read a post by another friend, talking about Avoidant Personality Disorder. It rang very true to who I was, as recently as 1982. Back then, it didn’t take much for me to leave a gathering, or sit silently, alone in the presence of a crowd, having made the assumption that I was not altogether welcome.

Too much has happened, during the time of my marriage and in the years since Penny’s death, for such an attitude to hold much cachet. Yes, there are times, like this evening, when some people would rather I not be present, but that happens to just about everyone, at one point or another.

There is far more to be lost, through shutting others out, building imaginary walls or by running from those who we see as hostile or overly critical, than there is by standing our ground and making an extra effort to connect with others. I stayed on the call, until it was time for me to leave and join another one. It has to be so. I can’t go back to running and hiding.

Progress

2

May 31, 2022- After six months of diligent care for my body’s largest organ, the dermatologist gave me a clean bill of health. Safe sun screen, head covering and being sensible about time in the sun, including while driving a car, has apparently made a fair degree of difference.

I got my act together and greatly tidied up the kitchen and dining area. Three other areas remain, before my next journey begins in mid-June. Having less compunction about getting rid of stuff makes a great deal of difference, in this task. So, the bedroom, closet and storage unit remain. Many garden tools will go to Dharma Farm, this weekend, and there are several items that can be donated to the Disabled American Veterans.

I am opening up with suggestions to people who pose seemingly intractable problems-after listening to them for a time, instead of jumping right in with solutions. The latter approach just gives the plaintiff the sense that they are being brushed off. In the long run, there are no really intractable problems, but there are plenty which are very, very hard to resolve.

The other thing, which occurred to me this morning, during the running of an errand, is that my fretting over going to one clerk’s window, instead of another, is a bit on the egocentric side. This was a thing, for quite a few years-and it finally came into my consciousness that the only one who cared about such things, was me. Silly stuff like that was much more front and center, not that many years ago. I am learning to let go.

May June only hasten this sort of progress.

Belated Thoughts On A Blood Red Full Moon

4

May 22, 2022- It’s been a week since the cosmic event that had some people focused on the night sky. In my case, the influence was felt at the time, but not seen-as San Diego was under the May Gray phenomenon, of dense cloud cover. The pull of the full moon was there, though.

A young lady, homeless, was screaming at the top of her lungs-at no one and at everyone, outside the walls of the hostel where I was staying. Inside the hostel, two roommates in the room next to ours were fighting over keeping the window open. (“You really want the homeless people to climb in?”, said the one to the other.) Reality check: A few homeless people had already managed to follow paying guests into the building, but were simply staying under the stair wells and keeping to themselves. Climbing through windows was certainly possible, but unlikely. The conflict was settled, at least until morning, when little old me traded rooms with the person who wanted the window open. The baying at the moon subsided and we all went to sleep.

Last night, at Synergy Cafe, the manager related his difficulty in sleeping, over the three nights subsequent to Blood Red. My own dreams were certainly vivid during the same period, and I was in several strange worlds, each night. How much that had to do with the eclipse, or the moon phase itself, is up for discussion. We are all creatures of speculation and interpretation, so it could have been, as one of my brothers is fond of saying, a matter of what was eaten for dinner those nights. Unresolved conflicts, the vortex, or the unseen hovering of sketchy spirits could also “explain” things.

I was probably better off having been under the cloud buffer, but it would have been interesting to have seen the events in the heavens. Today, here at Home Base, contenting myself with tidying up and organizing three kitchen drawers of assorted items, and buying a new set of bedsheets, I’m grateful for the ebb and flow of excitement and mundaneness.

The Hard Work of True Unity

0

May 19, 2022- I was raised to listen to legitimate criticism and to own my mistakes. I was taught that the only real path to peace, in a family or in a community, comes from the commitment of everyone involved to personal growth. My parents said that anyone can be unified with those who say nice things to him/her or who have common opinions and interests. It’s the differences of opinion, however, that teach us the most.

Throughout my life, there have been a smattering of nefarious people, but for the most part, those who have been a challenge have also had useful lessons to impart. Their takes on life was simply different from my own and actually have helped balance this life, often in ways I did not anticipate.

So, I see that there is little for conservatives to gain by shutting out progressives. The converse is also true. The fact is, none of us corners the market on perfection. We don’t deserve to be castigated or made to apologize for our existence nor do we deserve a free pass for actions that will only hold us back later. The same is true with mindsets. Looking at things through different lenses, as long as it does not result in overthinking, or mental paralysis, can help us make more complete decisions.

The other thing about unity is that it never gets very far along, if a decision-maker assumes that his/her way of thinking entitles unilateral action, from a place of privilege. Witness the recent, supposedly informed decision to close an infant formula plant in Michigan. This appears to have been made in haste, based on unverified reports of contamination-which subsequently proved unfounded. Such errors in judgement, especially by government agencies which have scant oversight, only feed concerns-and conspiracy theories, that government is running amok. This is a rough parallel to concerns about police actions that seem to have been done in haste-though it is a fair point that the police are often under far more pressure to decide quickly than are the overseers of public health.

True unity recognizes the dignity, the worth of every soul. It does not excuse wrongdoing, nor does it invite self-serving individuals to subvert the process of consultation for their own ends. Rather, it sees that each one who does make such misguided efforts actually ends up hurting selves as well as the rest of humanity.

So often, it is easy to be fooled by glitz, by sweet promises or by appeals to one’s own long-cherished beliefs. In reality, there is no substitute for rolling up one’s sleeves and getting the hard work done. We’re in this together, and for the long haul.

Transitions

2

May 9, 2022- The child kicked and screamed, at the moment that transport from school to home arrived. He had to be restrained, and carried bodily to the vehicle, all the while saying that school was his home now. The vehicle left, with him and his older sister in it, after the ten minute transition.

This raised more than a few red flags in my mind. Why would anyone, even a special needs child, so resist going home? There was one other occasion when a student refused to get on the bus, but that one looked at us, mischievously, and said “As long as I stay off the bus, YOU guys can’t leave, either!” His aunt came and got him, so it meant an extra thirty minutes of time on campus. This felt different, and will bear monitoring, when I go back there, later this week.

People tend to resist change, quite often. I have to wonder, though. What is so great about a particular situation, way of thinking or practice that ALL other possibilities are treated as “off the table”? I do have an understanding of inertia. To some extent, getting up in the morning requires a fair amount of resolve-especially during the months when it’s dark still, well into the morning. The understanding, that it’s not really good for my health to stay in bed too long, has helped-as well as the fact that I am in a warm home, and fairly comfortable.

Bigger changes, though, still have that aura of adventure, so I guess I am a bit of an outlier, in both enjoying routine activities while they run and being glad for even the most seismic of twists and turns as they happen. Maybe it’s a matter of seeing both as the means to personal growth.