September 25, 2022- The image stays in my mind, of the effervescent couple, greeting everyone cheerfully at their lakeside restaurant, in the village of Bras d’Or, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Then, there were the hardworking Miqmaq people, across the lake, in Eskasoni, their workshops and tool sheds, so vital a part of their community life. Across the strait, in the southwest corner of Newfoundland, the people of Channel-Port aux Basques greet hundreds of visitors each day, during the summer months and send off equally as many, who are at the end of their visits. Nearby, in the village of Doyles, are the cabins along the Codroy River, providing quality accommodations, in a supremely rustic setting. At the northwestern tip of the island, the communities around L’Anse aux Meadows hold their own, in a climate that is already severe, nine months of the year. On the Burin Peninsula, in southeast Newfoundland, a well-kept series of gardens form the centerpiece of an exquisite Bed and Breakfast establishment, honouring its late founder.

These communities, as well as Prince Edward Island and much of New Brunswick, mainland Nova Scotia and eastern Quebec, suffered immense damage from Hurricane Fiona, the same storm that blasted Puerto Rico and several other Caribbean islands, earlier this month. I spoke with the proprietor of a motel, in an area that was spared damage this weekend. She said that much of Cape Breton and the Chignecto/Bay of Fundy region to the west of the island will be in extended recovery mode, for quite some months to come. The area has winter to keep in mind as well.

Many of us are used to thinking of tropical islands and forested lands of the north, in terms of vacations and scenery. Now, we are, more and more, coming to see the entirety of life in those communities. Every location that provides others with rest and relaxation, has its own human communities, whose members have needs, aspirations and dreams of their own. Let us stay in contact with those friends in the affected areas, and encourage their resilience as best we can.

I know that the Caribbean, Alaska and Atlantic Canada, like all places affected by disaster, will rise again.

From One Bit of Heaven to the Next


June 28, 2022, North Sydney, NS-

The return ferry out of Channel-Port aux Basques was a much more elaborate arrangement than that which I took from North Sydney, five days ago. It is all part of the run-up to the Canada Day weekend, which is also the Independence Day weekend. Our two great nations have long collaborated on celebration of their respective nationhood, so it all makes sense. I lined up my vehicle, with at least 200 others, two hours before loading. A breakfast cafeteria was available, in the Ferry Terminal, so I got coffee and a bagel with cheddar cheese. Sitting back in the Saturn, devotions and random thoughts whiled away the remaining ninety minutes.

Once we were underway, and the above scene passed by, I was pleasantly occupied, by turns, with observing the passing ocean, reading a book I had purchased while at the Baha’i House of Worship, having lunch and napping. Then, Nova Scotia came back into view and before long, I was ensconced in Highland Motel- a spare, but adequate, establishment that is clean and comfortable, at least. I launched into writing about my last day or so in Newfoundland, only to have the laptop quit on me. It turns out that the electrical wall outlet in my room has no power. The desk clerk, already surly from dealing with other guests who were unnecessarily argumentative (IMHO) and rather rude to him, just shrugged his shoulders. I am now getting ready to go to bed ( FYI: This post has been completed, four days later).

Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and for that matter-New Brunswick, Maine and states clear down to Alabama, are part of the geological uplift known to us as the Appalachians. The same geological features can be found in eastern Quebec, Labrador, Prince Edward Island, southern Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, Norway and all along the western seaboard of Europe, into Morocco. An International Appalachian Trail exists, in one form or another, in many of these regions. Indeed, an Eastern Continental Recreational Trail is also in place, from Key West to St. John’s. I have whimsically thought, at times, of taking on the challenge of that long walk-but there is, realistically, much more for me to do than to shuck it all and walk for 2-3 years.

Nonetheless, I have found many elements of Heaven on Earth, in so many places visited, these past few decades, both in terms of scenery and of humanity. Newfoundland and Cape Breton make two more. I will be back to both, in 2-3 years, for more focused, selective visits, knowing that my life, far from being more relaxed and sanguine, is just getting busier-though in a happy and rewarding way. I feel good and have more energy now, than even two or three years ago.

Tomorrow, hopefully, will find me visiting some First Nations friends, along the shore of Bras d’Or Lake.