Thursday, July 14, 2011

Southern comfort.

We veered off the highway just south of Petite Riviere and headed down Memory Lane.

"Mom, please tell me this leads to Halifax." the Little Bastard moaned, having just endured two days of my exuberant golf swing and gleeful gallivanting at White Point. Indeed, we'd crammed a great deal into our short time at the beach: horseshoes, ping pong, tennis, golf, and a new game I call, "Learn to Drive" with rules like: If you spill Mommy's wine, you fail.

"I need a coffee." I replied, keeping my bleary eyes on the road – partly to avoid catching his – knowing they were likely rolling back up into his head.

"There's a Tim Horton's in Bridgewater." he pleaded, "We're almost there."

"I need a real coffee." I said, pointing out Petite Riviere Vineyards as a method of distraction that used to work when he was two, and stupid.

Truth is, I was in no hurry to get home. The South Shore of Nova Scotia in July almost makes up for the north side of backass in February – where I spend most of my time huddled up in a rink parking lot. And while I had just spent a portion of my mini-vacation, emailing Premier Dexter telling him to get off his fat ass and fix the link between Yarmouth and Maine – the upside of cutting off the marine umbilical cord to this world-class tourist region is that there's literally, 'room at the inn'. There's also a lack of USA license plates and the accompanying questions overheard in local establishments. Questions like, "Is Nova Scotia a part of Canada?" and my favourite: "Is there a Saks Fifth Avenue in Bridgewater?" All spoken with an innocently ignorant, south-of-the-border twang.

First-hand knowledge of these types of questions stem from my past, as owner of Wholly Mackerel, a folk art gallery in Mahone Bay. I remember the Main Street bumper-to-bumper with tourists waving their wallets like the American flag. Today, it pains me to see so many unique restaurants, inns, and boutiques – with fewer people here to appreciate them.

"Now where are we going?" the suddenly-pissy Little Bastard asked as I veered right again. "What's the Ovens? Can I at least drive?"

We had already done Risser's boardwalk, walked the dogs on Crescent Beach, topped up on coffee and muffins at the LaHave Bakery, and waited for the car ferry to take us across the LaHave River. He figured we were homeward bound.

"There's someone I really want to see." I replied. "I want her to see you, too".

Moments later we pulled in the driveway of an old Cape, and knocked on the door.

"It's open!" yelled a familiar voice I haven't heard in... well... far too long.

Mimi Findlay, award-winning interior designer and perhaps the most creative, loving, and delightfully irreverent person I have ever met, greeted us with a big smile and a warm, "Holy fuck!"

A woman after my own heart.

You see, many moons ago, when I owned Wholly Mackerel, Mimi owned Mimi's Ocean Grill, next door. I grin (and drool a bit) thinking about her fabulously popular restaurant, and the time and space that made up the South Shore chunk of my life.

My own lifeline to the South Shore was severed by work, and distance, and a bit of sadness. The Little Bastard had spent the first four summers of his life noshing on Julien's croissants, running buck naked on a Chester beach, while I worked my ass off. He was weaned on Mimi's comfort food – pan-fried haddock and homemade focaccia – often falling asleep in my arms to the tinkling lullaby of Mimi's finger playing with the ice cubes in her vodka, after a long and busy day.

Mimi is no longer Mimi of Ocean Grill fame, having shifted her focus solely to Rhubarb Home Design. The most talented, resourceful, whimsical designer I have ever met, is working her Mimi magic, transforming cottages, houses, and boring blueprints into unique, magazine-worthy homes with character. And, she's doing it with more personality and humour than you'll ever see on HGTV.

The good news is: South Shore businesses are adapting and thriving – marketing to a more regional crowd – and staying positive. White Point is as charming as ever, and while we had to wait two minutes for a tennis court – we had our pick of tee times, and the beautiful beach practically to ourselves. This – in July – on a coastline voted one of the best in the world by National Geographic's Traveler. Too bad our government makes it so fucking difficult for people "from away" to get here.

Metallica are performing in Havenot tonight, and I can hear the distant thump thump of whatever beat you call that. Thousands of rain-soaked, heavy metal fans, wandering down a foggy Memory Lane of their own.

Thump thump. Heartbeat. Speed bump.

Slow down. Enjoy the ride.

Book an affordable escape to White Point by clicking or calling: 1.800.565.5068
Book Mimi Findlay for your design project by calling: 902.766.0333 or emailing her at:
Email Premier Dexter and tell him to get off his fat ass at: