The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region
Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

Stopping and smelling the lupines

“The summer moon hung full in the sky. For the time being it was the great fact of the world.”
-- Willa Cather

Well-well-well, I just got back from Nova Scotia -- literally -- the car pulled into my driveway at 6:40 A.M. Monday morning. It was a bit of a stretch. We left Wednesday night at 8:00 P.M. after work. My husband, my bewhiskered dog (who now has a real Fu Manchu) and me.

We arrived at the ferry at 8 A.M. Thursday morning and landed in Nova Scotia at about 3:15 P.M. (only one ferry and it leaves at noon.) Then after disembarking we drove to our make-over- do again special at about 4:50 P.M., and got out and entered. Let me tell you this house was a $16,000 fixer upper special. And it was gutted- literally- had to bulldoze and bury large parts of it.

We are still working on the downstairs, we don’t even mention the upstairs. And we found out only one room had heat (we didn’t buy and install enough breakers) and there was no hot water. We did rig something up next day so we could shower etc. No refrigerator just an ice-filled cooler, and a microwave (which also kept turning itself off). Toaster and coffee maker worked just great though. And the view- ah- that was something I could sell my soul for. We had a real bed (mattress & springs) on the floor, a futon from a garage sale, a large wood table and old knock-off reclining mission chair, 2 plates, 2 cups, 2 spoons, 2 forks, 1 knife and 2 folding chairs. We even had 4 wine glasses for some future celebration and 1 scented candle. I don’t think we ate Thursday night; we bought a homemade pumpkin pie and a half gallon of orange juice and went to bed. Wilbur the dog managing to hog all the blankets and snore like a dragon.

In the morning ( Friday) the sun was shining in every window, C.B.C. was on the radio and my husband was out at 7:30 with the weed whacker. We got help from the neighbors to get the table (huge) and chair (massive) off the roof of the car and we were cooking -- figuratively that is. Did I mention the view? Of course I did again and again and again. First there our 2 acres of weeds then a wooded pine stretch, then the salt flats and bird sanctuary. Then the sand dunes, and the ocean, lying sleepily under an absolutely brilliant sky.

At night we would sit facing the floor-to-ceiling windows and wait for the first lighthouse to click on. There are two, and harbor guides to guide boats over the shoals. One green and blinking- and 3 red and steady. And, of course, a pitch black sky covered with large sweeps of stars. We watched the panorama unfold on Fri. and Sat. night hypnotized by the grandeur. We went out to dinner once -- on Fri. night, but the rest of the time we ate new potatoes cooked in the microwave and homemade English muffins, both courses slathered in butter. We had fresh-made bread and carrot cake and fresh made iced tea.

We did turn down the neighbors' pickled clams though. We took a jar and buried it in the back of the closet saying, “Donald will eat it,” Brian’s brother, that is. Pickled clams come from “bar clams.” This has nothing to do with alcohol. You go clamming in serious muck for 4 or 5 hours and bring back huge plastic containers full of very large clams. Bar clams as they are called. Then you sit outside in the sun, shuck them, you cut them into bite size pieces and put them into mason canning jars add salt water and seal. No heat or cooking ever touches these babies. “I just grab a jar, open it and pop em in my mouth,” our neighbor said, “Right, must be an acquired taste.”

But still it’s interesting to see how close the folks live to and with the land. You see them in the fields gathering all kinds of herbs, mushrooms and other edibles. You see them on the shore gathering “dulse” -- a kind of seaweed which is full of iron; this they use in salads and also cook, kind of like beet greens.

People are fishing everywhere you look. And every house has a small stand in the front selling fresh- picked berries and vegetables, all on the honor system. Sometimes a few pies and/ or cookies will make their way into the mix. Nova Scotia is not a tourist destination; the houses are mostly small and painted brilliant colors. (So you can find your way home after a night out.) Homemade wines are everywhere as are the ales and beers. Clothes are on the line snapping in the wind.

It seems that there is a parade or celebration every week, and the whole town turns out to play Bingo and have a chance at various prizes. There is something here called meat Bingo and it's meat you are playing for. No one locks up and everyone turns out when someone needs help. We have been left a gift of two enormous homemade quilts, the aforementioned clams, an apple pie, 2 bottles of homemade wine. I finally found a bunch of people I can pass my books around to; one woman called me up in Schenectady to tell me how much she enjoyed the book I handed to her on the beach and to assure me that it was now making the rounds of her friends.

And to finish up this 4 day adventure, trotting along next to us on the highway, was a fairy tale-sized moose. Shiny coat, big rack of antlers and fat as a proverbial pig. And we trotted along into the endless sunset, together for that moment of magic. Sometimes you really do have to stop and smell the roses, or rather the lupines. Because the lupines were everywhere, fields and hills and drainage ditches. 3 shades of purple, two of pink, and an occasional white. They would stretch as far as you could see. I couldn’t stop saying, “Oh look,” their abundance and beauty stopped you dead in your tracks. Truly a land of beauty and friendship. The way this country was not so very long ago.

On a different note

And now I will discuss the shooting near Jerry Burell Park 2 weeks ago. Hopefully you will remember that I came out at this site in the blog stating that Jerry Burell Park was an explosion just waiting to happen. On nice days there is anywhere from 200 to 300 people gathered there, sitting at the tables drinking alcohol and smoking whatever, and doing “business.” Schenectady Street runs right into the park and gang signs are everywhere.

This is not a kid’s park anymore; it is a thug’s hangout. No supervision; not even a cop hanging around. And always the teen basketball players being swallowed up by the industry. Recruitment- recruitment-recruitment. A while back an officer of the law said to me, “We don’t worry about 'Four Block Gang' -- they are all kids.” Community policing starts here. Cops in the park -- in the park, not in a car all the time. And if a cop doesn’t feel safe there -- well that’s a telling tale.

The poor fill our prisons and jail. They stumble into our emergency rooms, wheezing, limping, with blood leaking from holes never intended by god or nature. They sit in waiting rooms hoping for a sympathetic ear, which can stave of homelessness, for another month, or week, or night. They stand on lines for food or clothes, or whatever is being given away for free. Those who are poor in this country have the weight of poverty, violence, and lack of education hanging over their heads, straining to break free and crush them, maybe kill them. And when this weight crashes down, you will not be under it.

"My question to you is, do you care about those who want to make it without real help? I have a wondrous proposition for you. Come join our team. We’re losing. Yes, that’s right, we’re losing."
-- Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone

“You have been taught to serve those who are less fortunate. And yes, it will help them, but it will help you more. When you encounter those who are less fortunate, you cannot possibly give way to aggrievement -- Why do I not have? -- or its twin brother, entitlement -- Why don’t they give me? In fact, you will ask instead not -- Why do I not have ? -- but why have I been given so much?”
-- Condoleeza Rice

“Whether invoked or not, God will be present”
-- C.G. Jung

Community day at QUEST coming soon, Friday, July 6 -- 4pm to 7pm at 826 State Street
Give a little love back!

Enjoy this post? Share it!


There are currently no posts. Be the first to comment on this story.

columnists & blogs