I bet my summer vacation tops yours. Actually, in describing my week just past, the more apt word is getaway . . . and you need some context on what I mean by getaway.
My in-laws, you see, live in a tiny hamlet in central Vermont, a town with one school district, a police force of, oh, five, and a single solitary stoplight. And for their vacation, my in-laws -- all 11 of them -- wanted to get away from things. So . . . merely a three-hour flight, five-hour drive, three-hour ferry ride, and another 90-minute drive later, I found myself surrounded by this friendly bunch on the southern coast of Nova Scotia, in the blink-and-you-missed-it village of Port LaTour. If I learned nothing else during last weeks venture, I now know the place to go when you want the precise opposite of south Florida.
The best I can tell, there are two ways of making a living in Port LaTour: lobster fishing, and selling lobster traps. This is a place where natives truly are of the land -- and water -- on which they live. Even in mid-July, the weather is the kind only a frog could love: rainy, foggy, or overcast. The beaches are gorgeous, maybe a bit rocky, but lovely nonetheless. The water? Made my toes numb.
Southern Nova Scotia is a land that development has forgotten. On a side trip to a local beach, my father-in-law and I happened upon a deer and two fawns. The landscape is almost entirely evergreen. Its the kind of place that -- with ideal temperatures and climate -- would attract googles. But with July topping off in the low seventies, ideal climate it has not. Thus, free-roaming deer.
The cool, damp air aside, the only blemish I found in and around Port LaTour was the curious lawn decor. Evidently, the locals have engaged themselves in a perpetual race for the Most Hideous Lawn Art of the Month award. (A plywood zebra?) As lush and natural as the land is, its especially jarring to discover a picket fence with ceramic sharks greeting you.
Sports, you ask? (This is supposed to be a sports column, right?) I drove past a ballpark on Cape Sable Island (The Baseball Home for Shelburne County) but cant imagine when the locals might take the field. The Halifax Mooseheads just finished their tenth hockey season up the island a bit. And I saw a pool hall. A lobster fisherman, it would seem, has all the recreation he needs in his day job.
Thanks to the good folks at WGN and TSN (Canadas ESPN), I did manage to stay in touch with what matters, if only from afar. (You can take the fan out of Cardinal Country) Nova Scotia is an hour ahead of the eastern time zone, so your typical Cardinal game at Busch Stadium starts at 9 pm locally. Nonetheless, I got to enjoy a pair of former Memphis Redbirds play hero in one of the Cards biggest wins of the season, July 20th at Wrigley Field. Albert Pujols and So Taguchi combined for seven hits and four home runs in leading St. Louis back from an 8-2 deficit to beat Chicago, 11-8, and all but eliminate the North Siders from the NL Central race. And I watched this game with a lucky flower plucked from a Port LaTour trail by my 5-year-old daughter as my 1-year-old napped in the arms of an uncle. All the vacation a guy could ask for. (Rumor is they heard the cheering at Lisas Cafe down the street . . . the only restaurant in town. Didnt wake Elena, though.)
My wife, our two daughters, and I were zapped from one environmental extreme to another when we flew out of Boston on Sunday, the day before the Democratic National Convention began in Beantown. Among the subtleties Nova Scotians have going for them is their location waaaaaay off a terrorists radar . . . or a politicians for that matter. No, their weather isnt ideal, and yes, the moisture begins to seep into you after a few days under the clouds. But for a week, you can keep the sun, surf, and sand. Ill reflect fondly on six days of fun in the fog . . . with family. A perfect getaway, if you ask me.