22 May 2005

Charlottetown reached

Well, as noted below, it was one heck of a storm swept through the Maritimes today. But if we had to drive through the rain, at least it was driving rain, eh? Eh?

We have reached idyllic PEI, after a mini-Tour of part of Acadia. Foreign readers may not be familiar with the Acadian flag, which flies proudly throughout the region: it's the French tricolour with a gold star in the top-left corner.

[Acadian flag (below Maple Leaf) on a stormy day in Memramcook]

Acadia is really one of the most beautiful, and most civilised, areas of Canada. Of course, it's been under cultivation for longer than anywhere else (vanished Iroquoian cities apart) -- it was first settled in the mid-17th century. But the whole region is beautifully tended, on a house-by-house, field-by-field basis. Few areas or towns would look good in weather like today's, but Acadia looked great. It's a tribute to the inner spirit of its inhabitants that they take pride in outward form.

[view from our friends' Nick and Elodie's place, looking towards the village of Pre-d'en-Haut; the vast Petitcodiac river to the left]

We stopped in at our friends' Nick and Elodie's place for a splendid lunch; and also saw (briefly) Sackville, NB. Besides being my birthplace, it's also the birthplace of the Tour Episode (the segment of the larger cycle of material I have), as I composed the first version of it in the bohemian Bridge Street Cafe there, back in 2000. We had a quick cup of coffee to commemorate that manic 9-hour burst of inspiration.

[Bridge Street Cafe in Sackville, NB]

It's a slightly complicated story, but I had stopped in Sackville on my bike when I first was going East -- just to see the town I was born in, which I had only visited once (when I was 9) since my first months alive. Eventually I found myself in Louisbourg, NS (which we will soon visit again on this Tour), where I camped under the shade of a single tree for four days, hoping I could work the material I had into a useable, performable chunk. There I realised that my initial idea, which had been to start the story at the beginning of the Siege of 1759 (in June of that year, with the arrival of the British taskforce), was unworkable. So I sat trying to square the circle under my tree, until (under the strain?) I lost a contact lens. The pain, I recall, was brutal. My parents had sent me some more lenses, however; but they were sitting back in Sackville, many hours' ride away from Louisbourg. Not entirely daunted, I rode out to Sackville, claimed the lenses, camped in the rain, and that morning found myself drinking coffee at the Bridge Street Cafe. For whatever reason, the stars aligned and I generated the first version of this Tour Episode sitting there all day til closing.

To get back, though, we're now in Charlottetown, having crossed the enormous, 13-km long Confederation Bridge, which joins Prince Edward Island to the mainland and is now the main artery for on-Island, off-Island traffic.

[Dave filming the Confederation Bridge (on the PEI side). Only a very small part of the bridge is visible, of course. Note the red soil of PEI.]

The experience of driving onto the bridge from the mainland side is one of the most vivid memories I have of the 2000 tour: the highway appears to vanish somewhere in the clouds, and you just keep going up and up and up for about 4km. It's a little less breathtaking in a car, where you're lower down and can't see above the traffic so well; but still a great experience.

Now we're in Charlottetown. I will save description of PEI for later: we're here for three days, with the public show tomorrow at Province House Theatre (7pm). Speaking of public shows, I see I promised pics & desc of last night's Halifax performance in St. Paul's Church; but the sinews are weakening, the fingernails brittle with fatigue. I must sleep the happy sleep of a Prince Edward Islander.


Anonymous said...

Love the tour blog. Keep it up!

BTW, you're absolutely right about the beauty and 'tidiness' of the Acadian villages. They're a delight to see.

Anonymous said...

Stormy weather! Hope you get some sunshine soon.

Anonymous said...

i love you. you are so hot ;)