Such an extended absence merits some sort of explanation, I suppose. It usually comes down to one of two things: the fact that I have nothing of particular interest to pass along to my readers, or the fact that there is a move in progress– packing, unpacking, checking into airports, rushing from terminal to terminal followed by excruciatingly-long periods traveling on planes that seem to move at five miles per hour rather than five hundred.

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Like other illustrious communities on the planet, Rome, for instance, the village of Grand Pre is built on a series of hills. The most precipitous one is called Mitchell Hill, after the Mitchell family, of course. At one time they operated an inn for the travellers on Old Post Road, which used to run from Annapolis Royal to Halifax. When horse-drawn carriages came along, the road builders decided to bypass Mitchell Hill in favour of a detour around the hill. The detour turned into Highway One.

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Mitchell Hill provides a wonderful view of the bluff at the end of the North Mountain called Blomidon, which is where the Mik’Maq deity called Glooscap took up residence. One a clear day, you get a fine view of the Bay of Fundy and the Grand Pre Historic Site, with its distinctive, unconsecrated church built to commemorate “Evangeline” and the expulsion of the Acadians. It is believed to have been built on the site of the original church, which was made of wood and burned at the time of the expulsion.

Not many years ago, what most locals consider something of a travesty occurred at the top of Mitchell hill. Because the land was in private hands, one family was allowed to put up a duplex which pretty-much blocked the view. I found the modern structure visually offensive, but it did not occur to me that something could be done about it. I’m glad to say that there were people in Grand Pre who had other ideas.

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With the help of the federal government and a fundraising effort in the community, the land was purchased and the the duplex was sold and moved. A “view plane” park was constructed in its place. On July 4th, the new park was commemorated by Parks Canada. The flags represent the “shareholders,” with the possible exception of the Planters, I suppose, who have no flag distinctly their own. MicMacs, Acadians, Nova Scotian, Canadian, and Unesco, since Grand Pre is now a World Heritage Site. The manner in which the funds were raised in the community was somewhat divisive, so our end of Old Post Road was not particularly well-represented at the commemoration. But it was a nice day for a celebration.

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One of our newer neighbours has taken on the task of scanning as many of the historical photos of Grand Pre as he can lay his hands on. It is a wonderful project, and I was enchanted by what he had unearthed in the various archives that had pictures of Grand Pre in their files. With the exception of the dykelands, the geography has not changed all the much over the last few hundred years. The Stewart house dates from around 1779, so it can be seen in many of the photos.

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Our too brief summer was up. A professor’s work is never done, and my wife’s teaching duties called. On our last day, we headed down to “hidden beach” for one last dip in the Bay of Fundy. The place was swarming with fishermen, but the bouyant ocean water was wonderful. Someday soon, the sandpipers will be settling in for their feast of mud shrimp. They are the true nomads, taking off on tiny wings for South America, with no complaints about the weather, no carry on, just what is under their ever-flapping wings.

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