Friday, August 21, 2009

Cottage life in Petite

I've been away the last few days, visiting a friend at a cottage in Petite Riviere (pronounced Ptee Reveer). Wonderful hot weather, but the ocean was a bit cold. Nevertheless I managed to go swimming every day. My friend was taking some vacation time to spend at the family cottage with her parents, Mary and Neil. Mary will be 90 this fall, Neil is 93. They are frail and Mary has dementia, but Neil is very bright, gentle and humourous. He said, Don't look forward to being my age. If you get to be my age, deal with it, but don't look forward to it.

Actually, I wish I had had a notebook to write down some of the things Neil said, he was full of smart comments on a variety of topics.

The first couple of days I was there Neil was hard at work on his computer, drafting an article about a book he is reading and very much likes, The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur.

(the kite propped up by the chair is to reduce glare on his computer screen)

Neil is a retired Baptist minister and I suppose it is a good thing he is retired otherwise I am sure they would kick him out for heresy. He has very radical views on faith and religion. Among other things he advises that it is not necessarily a good thing to have a strong faith. If you do, he says, hang on to it, but doubt is a good thing too. It's always good to question your faith. He says he went to Divinity College when he heard the call as a young lawyer, but in retrospect he thinks he should have waited until he was more mature. His faith has changed over the years.

Every morning he would come out of his bedroom singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning! and we would all join him for a chorus. What a great way to start the day! Other times, if he was working on something by himself, you could hear him singing to himself a mix of hymns and popular songs.

One of Neil's daughters is a doctor and when she catches him on the computer, which is always, she has a list of chores and projects she wants him to work on that involve physical activity and turning the computer off. She says he is not getting enough exercise and so she comes up with chores that will get him moving instead of sitting in one place all day, hunched over his computer. One evening she explained to him exactly why she wanted him to move, why he needs to exercise in order to combat pain. It was very interesting, her specialty is sports medicine and she understands very well what happens when you don't exercise enough. I was kind of surprised but also not surprised when she said that the best thing to do for the pain of arthritis is exercise to strengthen the muscles around the area of pain. Kind of hard to do though.

One day we went on a long walk from Petite Riviere to Broad Cove along the shore.

The trail we followed went through different terrains, sometimes we walked on pavement, sometimes on dirt roads, sometimes on sand, sometimes on rounded beach rocks and sometimes on sharp pointy rocks.

The views varied as well, we passed several rocky or sandy coves, little lakes, fields, forest and little cottages.

In one place we were walking on smooth rounded rocks, easy on the feet, but through very sharp salt grass, I even got a cut on my knee from a grass blade!

At the end of the two-hour hike we reached Broad Cove, and stopped for drinks and food at a local cafe. We had planned ahead and left one car in Broad Cove so that we did not have to walk back afterwards.

On another day we went for an evening sail on the doctor's sailboat moored in a nearby estuary. That was very pleasant, we watched the sun set from the boat.

My friend and I also spent one evening on the cottage deck watching for shooting stars. In spite of being almost a week past the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, we still managed to see several of them. My friend also pointed out Mars, which is very bright now and will not be this close to the Earth again in our lifetimes.

Neil and Mary have owned this property for over fifty years. They built the small cottage and spent most summers while their family was growing up there. Now the grandchildren spend their summers there. It's a very simple place but very comfortable. Their kids have made some improvements, enlarging the deck and the kitchen, and installing an outdoor shower for washing off sand and salt before coming into the cottage.

I have to say the outdoor shower is completely wonderful. But I also enjoyed the pile of old National Geographics, a must for any cottage!

The area is full of small cottages similar to theirs, and many families have summered there over the past half century. One of the nice things about Nova Scotia is that many people have small cottages and cabins along the seashore and inland along the many small lakes. These cottages are relatively inexpensive, most are simple and entirely adequate for summer living on the lake or seashore. Nova Scotia being so small also means that they are very accessible too. Most people can get to their cabin or cottage within an hour. Just about everyone I know either owns one or has access to one owned by a friend or relative.

We went to the local store in Petite a few times, each time we asked about the latest news on Hurricane Bill. It is almost certain that Nova Scotia will be affected in some way by this hurricane, but it is as yet unclear what it's path will be and how severe the effect will be. There was general agreement though that there would be spectacular waves on Sunday, accompanied by varying amounts of wind and rain. The last I heard is that it will pass by out to sea, making landfall on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, but Nova Scotia would see high winds and over 100 mm of rain. That's a lot of rain!

I enjoyed the three days I spent in Petite very much, great scenery, "refreshing" swimming, good hiking, great conversations, and lots of sun. I do believe I have acquired a bit of a sunburn!

1 comment:

Barbara Anne said...

How delightful, Anne! What a beautiful area! I've seen a quilt made with those chairs in your last photo appliqued onto a background so they are looking out to a fabric sea.

It's refreshing to read of a Baptist minister of a like mind to ours. Amen, brother, the possibilities ARE endless as is the immensity and mystery of any deity worthy of worship. We Baptists don't have a corner on truth or TRUTH.

One of our favorite quotes is: "Unanswered questions are less dangerous than unquestioned answers." Please pass that on to Neil if you have the chance to do so.

Hope Bill stays out to sea, but hang on tight just in case!!