Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Farewell to the Maritimes...

Good morning, all!

I write to you today from Ottawa, which means that the time has finally come where I have had to say farewell to my beloved Maritime provinces... After five glorious days in Sackville, I boarded a train to Halifax (over an hour late, of course - gotta love VIA Rail). I was greeted by three shining and smiling faces - Tejas, Natalie, and Colin. Tejas and I have been friends since the summer of 2007 when we both worked as guides on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it took all of about ten minutes for the two of us to realize that we were pretty much destined to be life long friends. Originally from Vancouver, Tejas is now settling into her new home on the East Coast, where she'll be studying for a degree in law from Dalhousie. What a treat to have her out on my coast!

Natalie and Colin both hail from PEI and both lived and worked with me in France during the summer of 2009. We shared a home on boulevard Vauban in Arras, spent our days together giving tours at Vimy Ridge, and almost all of our days off together, traveling to Lake Como, Biarritz, and Paris, or lounging around eating pastries at home. I've been lucky enough to have both Colin and Natalie visit me in Sackville, and they've been kind enough to host me on a number of occasions in their home in Halifax. Both are educators - Colin teaches grade 9 French Immersion and is working on his Master's while Natalie's just started her first year of education at Mount Saint Vincent.

Tejas just happened to be passing through Europe during the summer of '09, so she of course had to make a stop in Arras. As a result, she'd met and got to know both Natalie and Colin before, so it was a wonderful reunion for the four of us. The arrival of my boyfriend Keith on Friday evening made it a fabulous group of five.

We spent our weekend together eating delicious food at The Wooden Monkey, Pete's Frootique, Jane's on the Common, Il Mercato, and Athens. An old friend from Mount A - Mike - and I met up at Rock Bottom Brewery on Spring Garden for drinks and appetizers, and spent several happy hours talking politics like old times. I had a lovely morning at the Wired Monk, reading Rick Mercer's book and chuckling to myself at his hilarity, while Keith and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the new location of the Halifax Farmers' Market, munching on apples, pastries, and cupcakes while sipping fresh pressed apple cider. We also managed to find a few treasures at the magical JWD used bookstore.

Walking in there is a bit like walking into a fairy tale library - books are piled from floor to ceiling, with dozens more scattered on the floor, sitting in piles, filling milk crates, or wedged in between shelves. I spent a long time in the food and cooking section, settling on a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's the story of Barbara and her family packing up their belongings and moving from their family home in Arizona to their family farm in Virginia to engage in a year of growing their own food and eating only that which comes from their or their neighbour's farms. So far I've learned a whole lot about the incredible amount of oil used in the production, processing, packaging, and transportation of food in the United States. The average American consumes approximately 400 gallons of oil per year as a result of their eating habits - that's 17 percent of the United States' energy use. Each food item in the average American meal travels an average of 1,500 miles, which is 2,400 kilometers for us Canadian readers. The craziest thing about all of this is that if every American ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, the United States would reduce its oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. Think about that. Each person + one local/organic meal every week = 1.1 million barrels of oil saved every week. It's amazing how the simplest of urges - hunger - and the simplest of actions - eating - can have such a huge impact on the future of our environment and planet. I can't wait to spend part of today getting further into her writing.

Additionally, today will be a day not only of reading but of writing. Yesterday I received a very exciting e-mail from the Registrar of Rhodes House notifying all of the Canadian Rhodes Scholars of the 2011 Tanenbaum Fellowship programme, which presents us with the possibility of traveling to Israel for nine days of learning, study, discussion, debate, and exploration. I have been deeply interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Gilles LeBlanc's World Issues 120 class in high school, and I've continued to read about and study it both academically and out of personal interest. I've always dreamed of having the opportunity to travel to Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, and I can't think of a more engaging or safe way to do it than through the Tanenbaum Foundation and the Canada-Israel Council (CIC). I guess I'd better get to work on my application... Wish me luck!



Ann B said...

Agh Sue you make me sick - I'm so jealous of this awesome opportunity. I hope you keep up with this blog as I will be living vicariously through you and I'll need to know what I've been up to. I hope all of your new British friends adjust to hearing you moan about Mt. A as quickly as we did though... Just a thought.

claire said...

Luck luck luck!! Oh wait, you've got the smarts and eloquent words -- you don't need luck.
Ps. You saw Tejas! Jealous!!!