Friday, September 28, 2007

Move over, Anne!

Remember Brigadoon? Passing over Confederation Bridge (in the distant background), we entered into a land that feels as legendary as Green Gables. We were surprised how sturdy and normal we felt on this 13 K crossing, perhaps because of the thankful conditions without wind and white caps below.

We arrived on the island Tuesday (Sept. 25th) evening thinking we should find a place to park before it got dark. How Grace surprises us around every turn. Just down the scenic Blue Heron Way, we stumbled upon the United Church Camp “Abecweit”. It felt like home, so we pulled in for a glorious night of salt sea air floating over us through the Cruiser.

Les and Gail Jay, favourite minister friends from our Manitoba days, had returned to this island home years ago. Could we hope to find them? The telephone book revealed their presence in Winsloe, just west and north of Charlottetown. One call later and we were being welcomed back into their lives at their 1834, former wayside inn, retirement stone farmhouse.

Among many creations, Les made this replica lighthouse windmill

Our visit lengthened into a wonderful off road time of oasis with so many great moments, which included:

An ocean dip ...

A visit to their cottage ...
A bike hike while our laundry was drying ...

Many meals on their deck ...

A last supper BBQ with John and Heather Lea, also from Manitoba days, and two red shelled inhabitants of the area who delighted our pallates ...

Les and Gail spent three years in ministry in Zambia. They have learned well the African gift of hospitality. Thank you so much, dear friends. Here’s to more retirement days enjoying one another’s company .. next time at Pen Lake!

Passing Through New Brunswick

First Stop: Grandfalls, New Brunswick .. rivaling Elora and her Gorge.

Second Stop: The Longest Covered Bridge in the World at Hartland

A city centre visit in Fredericton that included ..

a stop at historic Wilmot United Church where our past moderator,
The Very Rev. Peter Short, is currently ministering.
(sorry for this reclining view. Haven't figured out how to turn these up, yet)

And a Shediac ambush.

Goodbye, New Brunswick

A Slight Urge to Repent

Okay. Here it goes...

“We admit, Wal-Mart, that we swore we would never get caught dead passing through the portals of your consumer world of yellow smiley faces and falling prices. We hate your imperialist conceit that so brazenly crossed the border to trample down our shopkeepers and vanquish the homegrown businesses of our home ‘on’ native land. We even prided ourselves on our faithful resistance, never as much as even turning our gaze in your direction ..

And then .. We were tired .. It was late .. And there wasn’t a campground in sight. Your huge sign above the highway called to us saying .. Come, stay here. You can rest from your weariness in our parking lot, and we are open til midnight with everything you might need to restore yourselves physically.

We came because there was no other place. Mary smiled at us at the door and engaged us in subjects of mutual interest regarding “RV’s”. She told us how her husband and she had wanted to travel like us, but he had died at age 63. She sent us off with her blessing. Joy, the manager, true to her name, showed us how to use a phone card so we could talk with our family. Nice boys and girls in blue pinafores walked kilometers under tube lighting to show us where we could find baking soda and a skinny waste basket that fit perfectly between our pop-out and our kitchen counter. And in Woodstock, New Brunswick, at 10 PM, Mabel, the ‘People Greeter’, a kindly grandmother who belonged in bed, smiled at Peter in his nautical hat and guessed that he had been a ‘fisherman’ in his working life.
(Could it be, Mabel, that you might be an angel in your working life?)

Wal-Mart (can you believe that your name is even in ‘spell-check’?), though we still have big troubles with your founder and elders and many other realities you represent, we are sorry for our total rejection of you in light of the kindnesses of your local people. It is time you upped your prices and their salaries and reduced their hours. It is time you understood us Canadians more authentically. And, it is time we acknowledged our own self-righteousness and superiority.

When we needed a neighbour, you were there.”

La Belle Provence

We crossed the provincial border at Zontique, Quebec. Seeking a way around Montreal during late afternoon rush hour, we found ourselves dipping down into the Eastern Townships around the north end of Lake Champlain. The roads were as terrible as the experience was wonderful. Little towns on #202 like Bedford, Durham and Knowlton were like polished gems. Coming round a bend by ‘Lac Brome’, we stumbled onto the most marvellous view beside us, of a passion pink and ruby sunset over the lake. A roadside turnout presented itself, and with the assurance of a passing Anglophone dog walker, we settled in for a ‘free night’ in this small epiphany of paradise.

We slept happily, disturbed only by the hungry munching of a moose beside the camper and his hooves clapping on the road as he strolled away, presumably satisfied .

We were ‘agog’ in Magog, spending the day touring the town on our bicycles. The waterfront here is beautifully developed and animated by the colourful spectacle of sail boarders and kite surfers.

Once upon a time we received a letter from the L’Eglise du Canada , asking us to consider a ‘call’ to Magog. How different life might have been for the Moffat family had we seriously considered that potential French adventure. As it is, we are amazed how that ‘ol high school French surfaced for us in a pinch. We found ourselves asking questions, engaging in animated mini-conversations and reading the historic plaques as if we understood them like true Quebecois!
“Est-ce q' il y a un autre Canadian Tire ici en Riviere Du Loup, avec un “gas bar”?
Wouldn’t a congregational exchange between Ontario and Quebec be a worthy venture?

Count us in.

Saturday up at Mt. Orford Provincial Park provided more hiking and bicycling opportunities. While there, we dared ourselves to swim amidst the floating maple leaves at Lac Stukely on the first day of autumn. Cold? How about bracingly exhilarating!

It was an experience well worth an incarnation.

Sunday morning at 10 AM while joining Parkminster in Spirit, a trail led us into a natural cathedral. We were encircled by a congregation of pines and ripening maples; the baptismal font of ‘Fer-de-Lance’ lay before us; the awesome presence of Mt.Orford lended an exalted presence, the radiant sunlight in this windless sanctuary warmed us, while we shared muffins and apples with a chipmunk at the Look Out ‘communion rail’. Circle this place on your maps.
Many of those who have found it, return year after year.

The next two days we followed the historic trail of the St.Lawerence River eastward - with mountains in the distance across the water and a slew of church spires marking the nestling presence of towns.
Gardeners and Artisans have made this trail a feast of treasures to admire.

Here is Peter outside a blacksmith shop, decorated with car memorabilia.

Here is Elizabeth with the blacksmith, "Clermont Guay".

We thank you, Quebec, for sights and sounds and flavours to be long savoured .. and for the wonderful variety of people we encountered of all ages. Amazing how two such distinct cultures continue to share a Canadian identity. “God keep our land, glorious and free …”

Friday, September 21, 2007

Good Things Growww .. In Ontario! (new editions)

Though off to explore the sights and sounds of North America, we were blown away by the incredible beauty that exists right here in our own province! Presqu’ile (almost an island) is a treasure to be enjoyed by all of you! We spent our second night here, bicycling out to the lighthouse on the point and soaking in the sun and surf. Pictures here also include scenes from our two nights at Sand Banks Provincial Park in quaint Prince Edward County. Lake Ontario provides the same exhilarating seashore experience as the Maritimes. And wherever we go, we are surrounded by senior heterosexual couples! It's an epidemic! We have definitely become members of a whole new culture.

Taken of us by a Quebecois family, our campsite neighbours

40 years ago, Peter visited the famous "Boldt Castle" on Heart Island in the 1000 Islands. It was derelict then, but since 1977 it has been under restoration. We spent a day in this place of 'story' and 'beauty', built by a devoted husband for a wife who died in the midst of its construction. You should all visit some day. Fabulous.

On the St. Lawerence Seaway, at Cardinal Ontario, once lived former members of St. Luke's United Church and friends, Marg and Chris Kempferr. Marj ran an eceletic store called "General Dollar". 'Could they still be here?', we wondered, knowing how often they have moved in the past. As we drove by the store, Peter saw a profile through the front window. "That's Marj," he exclaimed! And, it was. Here we are in a state of happy reunion. Later, at their home, where tankers pass by their front yard, we met Chris (just returning after a flight from Newfoundland). Thank you, guys, for a short but very sweet visit and all the good tips about making our way through Quebec!

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

It all started in Oshawa, childhood home of Peter. On September 15th we gathered to celebrate the wedding of Stephen Moffat (youngest son of Peter’s late brother and sister-in-law) to Monica Donahue, his ‘best friend’ from ‘Best Buy’ (where they are both managers). It was a wonderful family reunion and gathering of friends from the lake and so many nostalgic times and places. Monica’s Mom and ‘Nanny’ grew up in Scotland. And, the ‘Moffats’ have an authentic Scottish lineage. How apropos to be piped across a Brigadoon type bridge and down into the picturesque knoll at “Trillium Trails”. Stephen and Monica chose their wedding date to coincide with his parents 45th wedding anniversary. It was a teary time of celebration and remembrance.

Andrew and Sarah stayed with us our first night in the BT Cruiser, which was parked at the Marriott Hotel. As you can see, Dick Moffat awakened us early the next morning to attend Sunday services at Simcoe Street United Church, where Grandpa Moffat was minister for 20 years and Dick and Peter grew up.

Then we were off on the #401 heading east, stopping to visit with Doreen Lander. She and David were our neighbouring ministers on our first pastoral charge in Manitoba. The backdrop of this picture is Rice Lake, where David and Doreen have built a beautiful retirement home on the heritage farm of Dave’s family.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where is Waldo?

Since 1979, Peter has been
disappearing one weekend every fall and spring to pursue a passion once shared with his brother, John .. (then later, John's sons and our sons). Here you will see him at last at the hallowed "Barrie Automotive Flea Market". It is the largest event of its kind in Canada, rivaled only in size by the one held in Hershey, Pennsylvania in October. Peter is one among 2000 vendors, hawking their wares. In his case he sells automotive sales brochures and magazine ads that date back to the 1930's. Originally, Peter slept in the back of our 1955 Chrysler Station Wagon, then later in a tent on the roof of the car. This fall, Peter attended in style with our new BT Cruiser. Both returned in good shape requiring nothing more than a long bath.

We are now putting the finishing touches on "The Cruiser". Today we built a spice rack and installed a wooden bar to hold the cutting board and trays against the wall. It's like setting up 'house' all over again!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Getting In On The Act

The B.T. Cruiser became the perfect headquarters for our stay in Sarnia during the wedding of Trevor Smith and Lindsay White, good friends of Andrew and Tim Moffat. Everyone wanted to try it out. Here we are with 9 visitors and a toast to all of you!