Some of us grow up and move to a nearby town; some move to the big city; others move across the country but some of us move to a new country and emerge ourselves into a new culture. That is what I did. In 1970, having just graduated from St. Martha’s Hospital School of Nursing ( not even a mile from where I grew up), I moved to a small sub tropical island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Bermuda. Oh my life changed in so many ways that it’s hard to describe but I shall touch on it briefly. I became an adult a few months previous to my move; I became a professional, a registered nurse; I became a wife; and I became part of a new world. Not only was I, a small town Canadian girl living in a different nation, I became a part of a Portuguese family. Whoa! Change can be exciting and change can be hard. But I was in love and I was ready to take on any and all new adventures. Looking back now, I marvel at my bravery because I left all I had known and moved away. I left my parents and ten brothers and sisters in a time when we had no internet, computers, skype, cell phones and expensive long distance phone calls were a luxury. In other words, I cut the cord and became someone new.
But I am here today to say that even after 40 years, you can go back home. Oh I don’t mean I have moved back and likely I never will, because, you see, I am now a Bermudian. I shall never abandon my Canadian roots and I still proudly travel on my Canadian passport but remember, my loving husband, children and grandchildren are all Bermudians and my home is there but this summer I am vacationing in my childhood hometown for an extended visit. That is to say, I feel with this visit, I have come home again. Actually none of my immediate family live here anymore but I still walk about this lovely town and feel at home. Most of the people I pass in the street, contrary to 40 years ago, are complete strangers to me, but from time to time, I catch someone’s eye and I wonder if they too see some sort of familiarity in me as I do them. To perhaps meet up with old classmates or neighbors is something that makes me search faces…and I find it amusing that now I look to grey and white-haired folks to find these people. (One knows that the Senior years loom large when those are the faces one studies.)
What a lovely town Antigonish is. I want to reach out and tell everyone what a treasure they have in living here. I want the young people to cherish the sweetness of walking these pathways. I want to remind them to enjoy these delightful summer days and lovely long evenings around a camp fire or sitting on a neighbor’s porch. I love the “down east” accent and feel a warmth as I listen to the musical lilt.
The hospitality of these folk is not to be easily matched anywhere.
I realize that I have chosen my homecoming at the perfect time of year and I am sure, were I asked to endure the long winter months, I would flee back to my warm island home before the first Snow Plows could clear Main Street.
Verdant farmlands stretch out from the town limits and we make our way along the highway to the rugged coast line to walk again down memory lane at some of my childhood haunts. Although Bermuda beaches are rated near the top of the scales world wide, I still have a deep love for the cold dark blue waters of the northeast coastlines. I recall many summer days with my family as we swam in the frigid sea and then trudged out to warm ourselves up on the hot sandy shores. We picniced on riverbanks and played endlessly along quiet country trails.
Tomorrow we are invited to Mahoney’s Beach to a dear friend’s cottage for a barbeque and a bon fire. I expect the evening to be cool, very unlike Bermuda summer nights but I know the festive gathering and wonderful memories it will stir up, will keep me snug and warm.