I was running a little late for the photoshoot in Antigonish with artist Grace Lane-Smith, but I put my signal on and eased onto the exit that would take me down the northeastern section of the Sunrise Trail passing through Merigomish, Arisag, and around the head of Cape George. It might take a few minutes longer but certain that it would be a better choice, having been delayed by highway construction a few days before.
It was one of those hot and sticky days we had in mid-August. I turned my AC down and I opened the windows of the car to let the warm air waft in carrying with it the smells of fresh-cut hay fields, goldenrod, and seashore.
Despite being so humid mid-day, I passed several walkers and cyclists. Maybe they were like me and hoped that they could thermally download the heat and draw on the stores when days are cold and dark this winter.
Not far down the trail, I spied a sign for flowers for sale and a farm stand. I decided that I would drive home the same route later in the day on the chance that they would still be open.
Grace’s house was easy to find, only a few doors down from my sons’ apartment in the university town. Photographer Steve Smith was already inside. I knocked on the door and let myself in. I could hear the chatter of both photographer and painter.
Grace was excited to be able to share a little bit of her story with us, but she was more excited to meet new people, a luxury we had mostly taken for granted before the experience of the pandemic. Both Steve and I laughed when she called us interesting. I can’t speak for Steve, but I have certainly never thought of myself that way, but I accepted the compliment and replied that the only thing that might make me interesting is the people that I meet.
A little camera shy, Grace eased when we just chatted about her painting and Steve did his work. You’ll meet Grace in the story “Capturing Comfort” on page 18. It was interesting to learn about her process of creating a painting, her book of sketches and notes, how she chooses her colour palettes, the artists that inspire her, and what music or podcast she listens to when she paints.
Saying our goodbyes, my thoughts wandered to the idea of what makes a person interesting. The scope of what can be interesting is infinite but also subjective. The videos on TicTok and the social media influencers that capture my teenage daughter’s interest have little interest for me and my Malcom Gladwell podcasts do little to captivate her.
As I meandered my way back to Pictou County along the Sunrise Trail, keeping an eye out for that farm stand from the morning, I thought about the interesting people whose stories we share in this issue. As you are soon to learn many of the people are new to the area. They chose a life in Northern Nova Scotia before the pandemic sweetened the allure. They were drawn here for the many reasons many of us would never think about leaving.
Thinking I was back in the farm stand territory in Merigomish, I slowed so I wouldn’t miss it. A woman driving a small tractor had just replenished the bags of potatoes and started to drive away. I waved as I pulled over and parked my car thinking she would see me as an eager customer, but she and her tractor disappeared down the dusty driveway. I walked up to the stand and saw the cash box. I had a å$10 bill in my purse and popped it in, then picked up a bag of potatoes and a zucchini. When I reached for a bulb of garlic a slight breeze lifted the Nova Scotian flag that was mounted on the side of the stand and for a moment it wrapped around my shoulders and gave me a soft embrace. The flag didn’t know if I had lived here all my life or if I was new. But that doesn’t matter in Nova Scotia, whether you have come from far away or from a few minutes down a winding shore road, you are always welcome here. Perhaps that is a very good reason why people from across the country find Nova Scotia a most interesting place to be.