Walking the Labyrinth

A fellow pilgrim read my lament about the restlessness I have been feeling since returning home from my recent walk in Spain.  She contacted me about a labyrinth she constructed after her first Camino. I decided to seek it out today.

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I was stunned by the amount of work she must have put into creating this, and was grateful for the chance to walk it. Like many people, I find contemplative walking to be strong medicine. If I have a problem I am trying to sort through, or if I am stressed or out of sorts, a walk almost always helps.

While I don’t feel at liberty to share the location of this labyrinth, my friend’s work has inspired me to look for a spot close to my home where I could create a similar one, for use by anyone who could benefit from it. A new summer project.

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Getting Sloshed in the Fraser Valley

The title is a falsehood. To my knowledge, none of us actually got drunk on our Canadian Craft wine tour, which is surprising given the generous pours we received during the day. But I should start at the beginning.

About a dozen of us gathered at Vancouver’s Canada Place where we were to meet our guide. Among us was Regina, her five children, and their significant others. Regina was celebrating her 60th birthday (the woman didn’t look a day past 40), so the party atmosphere was set right from the start, even without a drop of wine.

Our guide James was gregarious and warm-hearted, and one of those people who loves to learn about everything and anything. He’d been a medic for a year and a half before deciding he wasn’t cut out for that kind of work. He course corrected, took some sommelier classes, and now offers wine, craft beer, and distillery tours in the Vancouver area. You’d be hard pressed not to get caught up in his enthusiasm for life.

On the way to the wineries, we drove by several large greenhouses that were surrounded by a moat and some heavy duty fencing. The sign on the property read “Herbal Research”; my first glimpse of a medical marijuana farm.

imageTownship 7 was our first stop. It apparently has similar terroir to Champagne in France, and so is able to a make a sparkling wine that is in the Champagne style (soft bubbles) with grapes from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines. They weren’t serving the bubbly when we were there, but we did have a chance to taste their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in their more pure forms, along with their Merlot and a Bordeaux blend called Reserve 7.

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Next stop: Back Yard. On tap was a rosé, Riesling, and a couple of reds, including a blend called Nosey Neighbour. We stayed there for a light lunch of charcuterie, crackers, cheese, etc. and for most of us, more wine. I abstained as I am a cheap drunk and was trying to pace myself.

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Last stop: Chaberton Estate Winery. It’s the grandpa of the group, having been operating for more than 25 years. Because we were running a bit behind schedule, the wine tasting felt rushed. We tried a Reisling and a Baccus, but after that things were a bit of a blur (and not only because of the amount of alcohol I had in me by that point).

We did, however, have time for a quick tour of the wine making operation. They had a little bistro on site that I would have liked to try, but that will have to wait for another time. The bistro grows its own herbs in re-purposed barrels from the wine operation. Given that, the plants apparently take on some of the flavours of the wines.

All in all, it was day well spent with some great people, enjoying one of life’s little pleasures.

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So Much to Explore

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It’s a big world out there, and I have only seen a tiny part of it at this point in my life (the countries in green). Here is my five year wish list:

Spain (Barcelona this time…heading there in a month)

Portugal…trip planned for April

Another Camino…from Seville to Santiago de Compostela

Rural France

Cambodia

Vietnam

Laos

Thailand

Japan

What’s on you list?

How I Came To Be Making Crab Cakes Today

It started innocently enough. I was doing a bit of research for my brother Roy, who has a new music project in the works. I was looking for contacts in the Nova Scotia Mi’qmaq community who have some legends to tell about Cape Split.

My search took me to a woman who works at Kejimkujik National Park, where she is a story teller and guide. So I spent the next 20 minutes reading about ancient petroglyphs in the park, like this one (photo credit http://www.muiniskw.org):

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From there I went searching at the Nova Scotia Natural History Museum, and eventually found myself learning about Charles MacDonald. He started a concrete factory in my home town close to 100 years ago. He apparently didn’t pay his employees, but instead had a company money pot. Staff took what they needed whenever they needed it. MacDonald also hired workers to build five cottages for him (this was during the 1930s when employment was scarce and so this was a bit of a ‘make work’ project). All the cottages were constructed of concrete of course. Four of them are still standing. They are known as the ‘Fairy Houses’ and are located at Huntington Point near Hall’s Harbour. (Photo credit for next three pictures http://www.valleyfamilyfun.ca)

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If you become a member of the Charles MacDonald Museum Society you can stay in the blue cottage for a donation of a few hundred dollars a week.

Then I fell down another rabbit hole…hikes in the Annapolis Valley. This led me to this beautiful waterfall, which is just a stone’s throw from where I grew up. Funny that I didn’t know of its existence before now.

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By this time it was getting close to lunch, and I was good and homesick. There was only thing one thing to do…make crab cakes. So while I didn’t get far with my brother’s project, I did learn a pocketful of other facts, and I had a tasty lunch to boot.

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On Aging, and Fighting Back

A couple of weeks ago a co-worker had a mild heart attack. She is my age. Someone else I am close to, a few years older than me, just found out he has arthritis.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have reached the age where I can no longer take good health for granted. Enter my new regime. I have never been a runner, even as a kid. Never liked it. But a couple of very supportive colleagues of mine have started me on a learn to run program…zero to 5 k over the course of several weeks. I am in Week 2, and in fact am quite enjoying it. Also enjoying my morning shakes…today it is cherry, mango, banana, chia seeds and flax meal with almond milk. Onward and upward.

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Aftermath of a Holiday

My plan had been to ply you with many tales and photos from my wonderful holiday in Turkey. However life has been absolutely crazy since my return. Until I have time to turn my attention to this, I am – temporarily – opening up my Facebook page so you can view the images I posted over the last few weeks. The header photo, by the way, is from a balloon ride we took in Cappadocia in the central part of the country.

Bird’s Eye View

Although totally exhausted, sleep escapes me as I lie in our little guest house in the old part of Istanbul. I will have photos of the city for you soon, but for now here are a few aerial shots of the flight across Europe.

Near London
Near London
Flying into Istanbul
Flying into Istanbul
Germany, with its crazy quilt of colours
Germany, with its crazy quilt of colours