Thursday, June 19, 2014

Aboard the Princess of Acadia

I'm in the Sea Breeze Lounge on the ferry called Princess of Acadia and with the engines shuddering underneath me, my guilt and worry over the cats is rather intense. They're in their kennels in the Jeep, which is down a level, and while Maeve will be okay, Galway is not made of such stern stuff.  He's very likely terrified and though much about life terrifies him, that doesn't make his terror any less real.  I'm going to have some serious sucking up to do when we get off the boat.  He's going to kill me when I let him out of his kennel, once he re-congeals himself out of the puddle he's turned into, and by that I mean I will expect he will pee on something I don't want him to when we set up camp for the night.  Price of doing business, I guess. I also expect that he will lose control of all his bodily functions, so I will have a serious mess to clean up when we get to Saint John in three hours. We're not allowed in our vehicles during the voyage and if we want to go to our vehicles, we have to ask a crew member.  I may very well do that halfway through, just to make sure they're okay.



The day dawned spectacular, the kind of sunshine and early morning blue skies and sparkles on the waves that dreams are made of.  We're passing fishing boats and I wonder what they're after.  And I'm trying to not think about my Titanic aversion to large boats and open oceans... I would have appreciated my 6:00 alarm a little bit more had I gotten some good sleep last night and not been plagued by nightmares, or if not nightmares, the really, really unsettling kind of dreams.  Mostly this was the result of waking up close to midnight to the cats climbing over me on the bed to get to the dinette table to find out what was going on out there, and there's headlights driving around the campground.  My conscious brain is thinking that it sucks to be them, setting up in the dark, but my unconscious brain seems to be storing it away for future serial killer dreams.  It was a weird night.  

I made my Earl Grey Supreme in my large Stanley thermos last night and it's still hot this morning (I love Big Stan; I also brought Little Stan, but I haven't used him) and that's what I'm drinking to keep myself awake, as if the adrenaline wasn't enough.  It's not that I'm cheap, though I am that, it's that I'm picky about my tea.  But it's a good start to the morning.  They say the crossing will be three hours and I hope to be productive in that time.  Google Maps says Kennebunk is five-ish hours from Saint John and that's where I hope to spend the night, to catch the next chapter of the Babine saga.

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When I left Grand Pre on Tuesday, it was another briefly sunny day, and it really has been a week and a half of dismal weather and I'm again grateful that I've got a solid roof over my head.  The Grand Pre Historic Site was on the way to (and from) my campground and it was open when I got there just after 9:00. The exhibit of the Acadians was very, very interesting and it's one of the questions in my head that I hope my book will get into, this relationship between landscape and identity, because it wasn't long before the Acadians considered themselves separate from the French, in terms of who they were. Their experiences, their work of the land, who they were in the New World didn't bear any resemblance to who they were before.  They built dikes along the Minas Basin so they could farm, they formed their own culture based on what surrounded them, what they needed, what they valued that was different from their own ancestors.

I went to view the short film as it was announced at 9:30 and ended up sitting with a tour group of farming scholars from all around the world and I assumed that they were there to study the farming practices, the dikes and such, of the Acadians.  The film was excellent and it provided a bit more context to the picture of the Acadians that's still forming in my head.  It's a lot more complicated than the Acadians wanting to remain neutral and the British kicking them out.  I'm trying to trace which of the Babins were deported--and more importantly, to where they were deported--because it's really interesting that they were able to come back.  

It's interesting that we started off as farmers, building dikes and reclaiming the land from the sea, but after deportation, we took our living from the sea itself, became fishermen in Yarmouth County. There's a lot I'm romanticizing here, that I know that the land was given to English planters and so the returning Acadians had no choice but to do something else to survive--and now I'm curious to match up that planting scheme with the ones implemented in Ireland--and how the planters here were largely Scottish (and more importantly, Protestant), like the ones they imported into Northern Ireland.  Many connections I'm making between the Irish Catholics and the French Catholics, because the deported Acadians were not welcome where they arrived in the Protestant British colonies, much like the Irish.  

When the film finished, I took a walk to see the memorial church, which was built in 1922, a beautiful structure.  And then I took right turn and walked down the lane that bisected what is likely the Acadian cemetery.  Again, there are no headstones, but again, I'm mostly okay with this.  The bees buzzed around me, the lupins fairly glowed with the sunshine, and it was enough.












In the gift shop, I bought a map that shows the various waves of deportation and some postcards and I think about the idea of movement.

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In Digby, the rain starts up again in the morning, so I take it easy, enjoy my Maritime Mist tea and the comfortable cozy of not having anywhere to go.  I drove around Digby a little yesterday, but while it's lovely, it wasn't anything that would show up well in photographs.  But I decide that I will regret it if I don't go to Annapolis Royal, so after I made myself a peanut butter and honey sandwich, with Pringles, I suck it up, put on my raincoat and get in the Jeep.  First, I went to the ferry terminal to get my ticket for the morning. I do not like leaving such things to chance. The weather was nasty as I drove the 101 to Annapolis Royal, and I wasn't exactly sure what I'd find when I got there.  But the Victorian houses, some turned to inns or B&B's, are gorgeous.  I first went to the Port Royal Historic Site, a reproduction of the first settlement here in 1605, the fur traders.  Like the Fort Edward site in Windsor, interesting, but it didn't take too long to look at.  And I find myself very suspicious of park personnel in costume and only half in character.

Then I went to the Fort Anne Historic Site and now I'm curious about this style of earthwork forts, the same kind I saw at Fort Edward. More research necessary.  Then I went to the cemetery on the property, to look through the Acadian cemetery, which had been taken over by the English settlers.  Again, as I suspected, all the wooden crosses had disintegrated. So, the absolute first Babins are probably there.  Probably.








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The plan is to make it to Kennebunk tonight and spend two nights there, so I can explore tomorrow.  But first, this will involve customs and border crossing and to me, Customs is like the IRS:  inexplicably terrifying.  They make me nervous, even when I know I haven't done anything wrong and I've overprepared for every eventuality.  Maybe it's because I'm traveling with the cats, I don't know. But I've got my passport and the cats' records and it should all be fine.

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Still thinking about poor Galway down there.  Half an hour and I'll go check on them...

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