Sometimes I would question myself if it was just memory or a memory of a dream but I know it’s real and a gift of a moment shared between a father and a daughter. Most nights, even on summer holiday, my Mum had my sister and me tucked into bed before the sun went down. My older brother was often playing ball with his friends in the field behind our house and my friend Wendy would still be driving her bike back and forth on the sidewalk ringing her bike bell. As day turned into night I often fell asleep counting the cars by the beams of light emitted from their headlights that wrapped around the walls of my room as they passed along on the street below my window. But on this night just as I was drifting off, my Dad popped his head in my room and told me to get up because he had something special to show me. I remember I was wearing a faded nylon nighty that had belonged to my grandmother. There were little rosebuds appliqued on the drooping neckline that had curled up on all of the edges where the threads had shrunk over the years. “Grab your housecoat and your shoes,” he told me because we are going for a drive. I no doubt questioned him about what he was up too but did what I was told and jumped in the front seat of our big yellow Oldsmobile and off we went. A few minutes later my Dad pulled the car into another field not far from where we lived and turned off the ignition. The darkness gave way to the twinkling light of a thousand fireflies. It was as if a sky full of stars had descended into that field draping it in a veil of sparkling bioluminescence as these magical creatures of nature danced their secret dance just for me and my Dad.
There is an elevated sense of wonder that only exists in summer. It goes hand-in-hand with the ephemeral beauty of things most rare, short-lived and fleeting and in Nova Scotia summer is all of these things. This sense of wonder inspired many of the stories in this issue. The whimsical driftwood sculptures of artist Anne Louise MacDonald and the curiosity and allure of living adrift on a little island in the Northumberland Strait that continues to capture the imagination of people both near and far. Time and space meant that the six stories featured in our cover story are truncated versions of larger conversations but I hope it’s enough to give you all a glimpse of a few of the people and properties that make it worthy to be dubbed Pictou’s Treasured Island.
We have had a slow start to summer here in Nova Scotia but many of my favourite things about the season have been arriving right on cue and sadly some are almost over. The anticipated blossoms on my magnolia and crab apple trees have had their day and their petals are now a pink carpet that will be swept away with the next good breeze. Hot on their heels is my favourite of them all and by the end of the week I will have bouquets of lilacs in every room of my house. Then there is my Mum’s rhubarb crumble dessert that’s always best after a good feed of lobster and nights by the fire in our back yard after we return from cheering the kids on at soccer.
This morning I went to visit my Dad at a nursing home where he now lives and I asked him if he remembered the night he took me to see the fireflies. I read him this editor’s note and we both had a little cry. He remembered every moment of that night and I felt like I was that little girl again. So today as we wrap up another issue of At Home on the North Shore I am left wondering if maybe summer is just a metaphor for life and the universe just threw it in there to remind us how temporary we all are and while we are here we had better make the most of it.
Have a lovely summer everyone—let’s go make some memories.