Photographs and Memories
Where some people shun family vacations, I adore them. My grandparents lived in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and my family lived in Montreal. As a child, I remember long car rides and a warm welcome at “The Bield.” Gaelic for “shelter,” it was the home of Gruzzie and Hum, my dad’s parents. Gruzzie’s name was a mashup of granny and muzzie (mother?) and Hum was Gaelic for “him,” my Scottish grandfather.
Their spirit infuses every trip I take to the Maritimes, and none more than last summer. My husband and I went east for 10 days, but it was our second day, spent in Alma, New Brunswick, that will stand in my memory forever.
We sea kayaked that afternoon with a young crew of adventure tourguides. They shepherded 12 boats of middle-aged and teen-aged thrill-seekers past rocks and rip tides. We battled the wind and waves as we headed west for about 4 kilometers, then pulled into a bay for a rest and a beach picnic.
The ride home was magical. I kept trying to find a comparison that fit the sensation of rolling along with the waves. “It’s like riding on the back of a sea serpent,” “it’s like being on a rollercoaster.” Up and over each swell, with a slight thrill of danger that we would come crashing down on the kayak in front of us. “No,” said my husband, “it’s like riding on the sea.”
If the wind had been even a little stronger, the waves would have been beastlike and our ride would have been canceled. But that day the elements aligned and we enjoyed the gift of a perfect afternoon. I felt protected by our guides and connected to everything and everyone. As I always felt at the Bield.
Hum, Gruzzie, Marco Polo and the Bield, 1966