Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A Nova Scotia Bucket List

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, by Sara Jewell.

"I'm skating in Nova Scotia!"
As I laced up my skates at the edge of the ice, I realized I have a kind of “bucket list” for my life in rural Nova Scotia. I wasn’t really aware that I was checking things off as I completed them but standing on a frozen pond in the field behind my house, it occurred to me that the longer I live here, and the older I get, the more conscious I am of a list.
I did check off a big item on the list within a year of moving here: getting chickens. I also started making strawberry jam and salsa. This year, we’re moving into pickles.
But if fresh eggs and preserves don’t seem like very exciting “bucket list” items, the list also includes learning to shoot a gun and learning to drive the tractor. Those haven’t happened yet because they require instruction from my husband and he’s afraid I’m going to shoot him, and break the tractor.
I have even bigger dreams that scare him: Have a pet pig. Get a donkey. Keep goats for milk (and fun!). Become a beekeeper. Luckily, my adventures in country living have recently brought me into contact with horse people so this summer I will make my seven-year-old self happy and finally learn to ride.

The upcoming tenth anniversary of my move to Cumberland County makes me more determined to complete my country bucket list. Skating may seem an odd item to include but it’s not merely that I’m skating – it’s where I’m skating.         
Back in 2008, I wrote a magazine article about the River Philip in winter and shared my father-in-law’s story about the local kids, including himself, skating from Port Howe to Oxford, and building a bonfire to skate around in front of his house. Ever since, I’ve wanted the experience of skating on the river but due to logistical reasons, that’s not going to happen.
Yet there I was two Sundays ago, standing on the edge of a pond, hoping I wasn’t about to break an arm. I am not a good a skater but I enjoy it immensely; as my Grade One teacher wrote in one of my report cards, I engage in activities with more enthusiasm than skill.
But what I lack in skill, I make up for in persistence, and after years of pointing out the perfect spot to dig a hole in the middle of our field, one morning I woke up to find it there! I waited for it to fill with water then I waited for it to freeze. Finally, fed up with our wonky winter weather this year, I decided that a foot of ice was thick enough and twenty years of waiting was long enough so I pulled on my old skates and stepped out onto that frozen pond.
With more enthusiasm than skill, and pure persistence to engage in an activity I love, I flailed and wobbled and eventually skated across the humpy, lumpy surface of my very own ice pad in rural Nova Scotia. 
And you know what? It felt like home. 

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