My twenty year high school reunion is coming up. As I reconnect with old friends, and plan our get-together, I find myself increasingly nostalgic about the eighteen wonderful years I spent in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. The photo above depicts the NB landscape at its best – a lighthouse, the ocean, rambling old homes in the countryside. The stuff that dreams are made of.
There are countless reasons why I loved growing up there. Here are but a few that come to mind:
1. Knowing everyone. When I was 19, I had a car accident at the intersection near my house. My car was totalled, and I was thoroughly freaked out. Immediately, friends were at my side. Both my parents had been informed. Someone dealt with my car, and someone else drove me to the hospital. Within minutes, I was taken care of – part of a community that cared for me and my family immensely.
2. Afghan blankets, casseroles and home-baked goodies. At Christmas, Thanksgiving and often for no reason at all, friends and neighbours showed their love with homemade muffins, lovingly hand-crocheted blankets, freshly caught fish – you name it. When my mom made her special beef curry with rice, it was immediately distributed to her friends who favoured it. That was just the way. I loved that sound of the doorbell, cheerful greetings and delicious smells from another kitchen.
3. Not being scared. I was a Brownie and Girl Guide for many years. Part of the gig was selling cookies every year, and for that we had to go door to door in the neighbourhood. I distinctly remember walking around in the twilight hours, taking cookie orders from friends and strangers. I wasn’t scared. No need to be. I was safe. I don’t have that feeling here in Toronto, and I don’t think I could ever let my kids do the same thing without my supervision.
4. Simplicity of life. There weren’t that many places to go. A few little restaurants – mostly mom ‘n pop joints, a movie theatre on the U.S. side of the border, and that was it. But I don’t remember ever feeling bored. I loved being at home, with my family. My mom would make great dinners, we’d watch movies, spend time together. Life was uncomplicated – focused on the important things like school and family.
5. Maritime culture and landscape. Minutes from the ocean, a river, staggeringly beautiful coastline and countryside. I took it for granted. But now, living in Toronto, I miss that proximity to nature, and the ability to drive for five minutes and be in a pastoral setting. Non-stop urban chaos gets to me sometime and I miss the peacefulness and beauty of the Maritimes.