Monday, July 16, 2012

Lessons from the Road

By Evelyn David

The vacation was wonderful. But I'm happy to be home. The place where the shower has real water pressure, the mattress already has lumps in the places I like them, and I have access to a refrigerator for a midnight snack that doesn't cost $20. Forgive me if I sound a bit like Dorothy when I say "there's no place like home."

We traveled over 2,000 miles, all the way to Halifax for the enchanting Tattoo, a cross between a military exhibition, complete with gunfire, and Barnum and Bailey's Circus. This year's dual theme was a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, as well as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. A little schizophrenic, but they made it work.

Actually the Titanic was a major theme throughout Halifax, the city where they brought the victims of the ship's sinking. We even ate dinner in a restaurant that had been converted from the funeral home that had been used in 1912. You could order items from the First Class Menu that had been served on the ill-fated trip (which seemed a tad morbid). We passed and settled on fish (actually fish was the theme of the vacation, as we only ate items from the sea for the entire 10 days).

We wandered through Canada, gorgeous landscape everywhere. We visited every historic site my husband could find (the family calls him a Kamikaze tourist). But a couple of chance encounters stuck with me, reminding me again of the journey we all make in life.

To set the scene: We'd taken a three-hour ferry ride that included whale watching on deck with sea spray everywhere; driven with the windows open for hours at a time; and there had been a heavy mist in the area for two days. Result? I know I've used the metaphor before, but I resembled a Chia pet, an unkempt one at that. I had an unexpected break in the tour schedule my husband had plotted out for us and decided to treat myself to a salon visit.

I love tea and collect teacups. Was it serendipity or just a crazy coincidence that the hairdresser had a tattoo of a teapot with a stack of teacups running down her arm? She was young. She came from a small village about an hour outside of Halifax, and loved living in the "big city." I'm from New York, a metropolis of 8 million, so I know from big cities. She was now living in a municipality of less than 400,000, but since her hometown had less than 1,000 residents, it's all relative. She needed to move to the "big city," she explained, because there was no future where she was from.

But she had one regret. A major regret. She'd promised herself that she'd visit New York City before she was 21, and her milestone birthday was in just a couple of weeks, with no money for the trip. Living in a "big city," you know, is expensive. Specifically she wanted to come to New York and stay at the Chelsea Hotel, where Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Iggy Pop used to stay. She reminded me it was the hotel where Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, was found stabbed to death. Doesn't sound like the typical Holiday Inn to me, but it broke her heart that the hotel had closed before she could get there.

And I smiled because she doesn't know that there are second, third, and fourth acts in life. There will be other Chelsea Hotels, and if she doesn't get there by age 21, with the drive she has already shown to leave her small town behind and move to the big city, I had no doubt that she'll get there in time.

A few days later, we were in Digby, Canada, a small town of under 20,000, where the ferry for Saint John departs four times a day. We had about an hour to kill before we were due to board and so looked around for somewhere to have a "cuppa." Couldn't resist the small restaurant called Mag Pyes Bakery Shoppe and Café (spelling correct) since I often refer to my darling daughter Maggie as Magpie. Plus according to Trip Advisor, this place was a gem. There was tea served in a ceramic pot, china teacups, and a strawberry cheesecake pie that was to die for. In a vacation replete with memorable meals, this afternoon delight ranks near the top.

Owner and chef Margaret Grey chatted with us, while I tried not to lick the plate. She told us that she had grown up in the area, gone off to the big city, Toronto, with her husband and worked for 20 years in marketing. She then saw an ad for a bed and breakfast for sale in Digby (, and just down the street from the B & B that they fully restored, was a small restaurant for rent. Her comment to her husband summed it up" "Why not." Margaret and her second act dream was what I wanted to tell the hairdresser from Halifax. If you don't get your dream at 21, you can have another dream at 40, 50, or more. The important point was to keep dreaming.

Before leaving Canada, we stopped at a local supermarket. I bought the brand of tea that I drank at Mag Pyes (King Cole, produced in the maritime provinces of Canada, I've already started scouring the Internet for a recipe for strawberry cheesecake pie. I suspect it's a specialty of Mag Pye herself.

As for dreams and imagination, I brought mine with me on vacation and they're even more fired up now that I'm back home.

Sweet dreams to all.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David
Zoned for Murder - Kindle (Exclusive at Amazon this month)
Trade Paperback

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. Marian, I love your account of your vacation trip. It sounds like the kind my husband and I love.

    I especially love your comments on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th acts in life. Most young people don't realize those possibilities. We didn't back then, did we? I believe that's why so many of the young commit suicide or attempt it. They have no understanding yet that this "now" isn't forever. I think I'm working on Act 6 in my own life, and each has been better than the one before it. Hurray for Mag Pye!

  2. Thanks Linda. I agree that at 21, I probably didn't know about later acts either -- nor would I have believed anyone if they had tried to tell me about them :-)

    I haven't found a good recipe for Mag Pye's strawberry cheesecake which included a hint of almond, and instead of fresh strawberries on top, she essentially made a strawberry conserve (without any pectin). Maybe the memories are better than adding yet more calories after a decadent vacation :-)

  3. Lovely post. It made me yearn for the road-and some great food. Very important lessons. I have learned that personally. Thank you.