“Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?”
- Elizabeth Bishop
It’s a small, peaceful place, not much more than four corners and an iron bridge, some very old homes (including this one), a church, some antique stores, a post office, and a filling station. Nearby is the Fundy shore, which no-one describes better than Elizabeth Bishop in her poem, The Moose:
Where, silted red,
sometimes the sun sets
facing a red sea,
and others, veins in the flats’
lavender, rich mud
in burning rivulets
I settled quickly into Bishop’s childhood home, where I wrote, I read, I re-wrote and read some more. And still I wrote. It was an inspiring place of quiet discoveries and pleasant surprises.
One evening I set out on a stroll, hoping to visit the guineafowl who run free-range in the village, clucking and scolding and squawking. They’re a great source of amusement to residents and visitors, and I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of an encounter with them.
As I stepped out on the porch, I was greeted not by the sounds of guineafowl, but by the surprise of bagpipes. I followed the sound to Layton’s Store, now an antiques shop, and found a seat on the pew thoughtfully left out front by the owner. Across the road in the church parking lot, band practice was in session.
Four or five pipers and a few drummers were hard at work, spirited playing that was both in tune and in tempo. I wasn’t the only one having a listen; on the other corner opposite the church, a group of seasonal field workers, I’m told from Jamaica, were sitting on their porch, listening with interest. A few of the women drifted over to the church lot for a closer look. The piece ended; the band settled in for a bit of rehearsal discussion. The women strolled back to their porch, awaiting an encore, as was I.
Two guys roared by on a motorcyle, waving at the women, some of whom waved back. Down the road a small black cat twisted and danced, trying to catch a fly.
Eventually the pipes wheezed back to life in crisp, brave thirds, soon joined by the smack of sticks against drum skin. Laughter erupted from across the road as one of the Jamaican women commenced step-dancing.
It was a real Nova Scotia moment. No, it was much more than that.
The next day I enjoyed a visit with the guineafowl in the quiet heat of a summer’s day in Great Village.