28 Days in our town in decline

It’s been 28 days since I opened The Bear River Cafe, and what a learning experience it’s been. I knew going into this that no matter what experience I had, there would be a learning curve. Forget the curve, it turns out there are sharp corners, dips, speed bumps and those hairpin curves are great fun. Nothing is easy, just look at the signs going up…

Jon ready to hang the cafe signs.

Jon ready to hang the cafe signs.

The tide is in, so he's over water.

The tide is in, so he's over water.

...and the other side.

...and the other side.

it looked like fun to me.

I am still dealing with the same water issue, but pressure on the powers that be have not let up, and this town won’t give up.   Despite it all; no water, long hours, no social life, but no privacy, and still no water (guess what my no.1 concern is), I am living a dream here in our fair town. And while I realize that I will never be able to please everyone that walks through my door, I will continue to try to put a smile on every ones  face before they leave…

…OK so now its  been 51 days since I opened the doors here. I guess that kind of says how much time I seem to have on my hands, very little! I’ve managed to take a day off in that time…not enough. I keep saying that I will try to do something about that, but I haven’t had the time. I am enjoying my days here, every one is different . There are days of course that I feel  that I am living the movie ‘Groundhog Day’, but I am ever grateful.

I get to wake up to this view…

Morning yoga here...with this view.

Morning yoga here...with this view.

..every day. OK, so this is an evening shot, you get the picture. My commute to work is exactly 15 steps. I get to interact with the greatest variety of people every day. And I have the greatest friends and best young adult ‘kids’  for support. I am now able to offer Bear River grown produce, how much more local can you get. It’s part of choosing Bear River…to live in, to do business in, to support.

This little town, that was within the last few months, labeled a ‘town in decline’ seems to be trying to come out of hibernation. There seems to be a surge of pride amongst its residents. While this season of sun does bring people out into the world again, to enjoy what this paradise has to offer, this feels like more than that this season. It is evidenced by the activities that make this town a community. Our ‘town in decline’ has seen not only its mainstays like The Flight of Fancy and the Changing Tides diner open again, it has also seen the opening of more than 5 new businesses, including my own and the Rebekah music hall that, thanks to Jon and Erin, brings in some world class music on a pretty regular basis. All of us have chosen, and continue to choose Bear River. We live here, we choose to open our businesses here, shop here, and socialize here. This little ‘town in decline’ is showing its pride and in the process showing its detractors what we can do as a community.

We live here!!

We live here!!

Trying to write everything that I would like, to catch up on here is, I am quickly realizing, going to take some time. The meandering words above seem to indicate that pretty clearly. Or maybe it’s late, and I’m tired. In any event, I can at least publish this and start another right away. I’ve only just scraped the surface of the ‘water issue’  … ahhh the water!!

Until next time, watch out for those hairpin curves.

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Open for business…

Here I am…I can’t even remember the last time I wrote anything, but it’s time. I am OPEN for business. I opened the doors on Monday May 18th. Yes, just a week ago and I am feeling exhilarated, happy, fulfilled, relieved and proud. I am also feeling frightened, exhausted and intimidated. It’s been just a week (long) week and my emotions have run the gambit. I am proud of what I am trying to achieve here, but still wonder if it can even be achieved. My earlier post ‘It’s been one of those days…’ well there have been a few of ‘those’ since. For now though, I am open and that is what I want to celebrate.

and the sign is up!!

and the sign is up!!

I have had wonderful support through the whole process to get here, this town and the people in it are amazing. My friends…well I can’t begin to say enough about them. They have generously offered me everything from their showers to their time, and time is a precious commodity in this season of planting gardens and good weather.

Nature changes our seasons...and our menu!

Nature changes our seasons...and our menu!

I decided to have a ‘soft opening’, no advertising, no posters, just put the sign out and open the doors. I can find my feet again this way. It’s been a while since I’ve run a restaurant, and this place is different than any other I’ve been in. The kitchen has limited space, there is very little storage space, and…I still have the same water problem. I rely on a 325 gallon water tank to supply the water I need to run this place. I quickly found out that keeping up with the demand is going to be an ongoing game of catch up. I know that my largest consumption is in the kitchen, washing the dishes.  I have never put so much thought into the simple job of washing dishes, but when you’re using three sinks, plus the hand washing sink it becomes a big concern. My biggest concern right now should be how people respond to my food, the atmosphere the place provides, and being able to pay the bills. Instead I find myself calculating how much water I will use for every guest that enters the door, including flushes!!

Gotta love it...

Gotta love it...

Really though, look at this place. I know there are hurdles to clear, but somehow they will be cleared, I feel that in the support that I am shown daily.

The water view.

The water view.

Welcome to my place.Welcome to your place.Welcome to The Bear River Cafe!

Coffee made here. Yummy coffee.

Coffee made here. Yummy coffee.

Lunch hour commute.

Lunch hour commute.

The view while dining.

The view while dining.

I Live here. Life is good.

I Live here. Life is good.

Someone told me recently that I am living in a “community in decline”, I beg to differ. This community has begun to come out of hibernation. The people who live here choose to live here, we choose to shop here , we choose to do business here, to express our creativity here, to share our dreams and live our dreams here.  More on this in another post.

In the meantime, if you’re in the area, be sure to stop in to say hello and have a bite to eat!

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Opening day….

…Opening soon!!

I’ve set a few opening days now and have come to the conclusion that it’s best to keep my mouth shut. I am anxious and eager to start, I picked April 22nd as THE day, Earth Day, what a great day to open since I will be running an earth friendly cafe.   Despite all good intentions though there are forces (govern‘mental‘ departments, among others) out there that just don’t care what my schedule is or how great the date would have been. Without getting into (ranting) details about the latest hold up/ set back/ delay, I’ll just say that I will be… opening soon.

I should know better really as it seems that throughout this whole process, when I can finally check one item off my ‘to do’ list, another magically appears at the same moment. It was while adding to my ever present list that I had an epiphany of sorts about the opening, which is my dream, and my life. While writing, “make an ‘Opening SOON’ sign for the front window”  the words ‘just let it go’ reverberated in my mind.  I’m not sure why but I have a theory now,  reasonable…maybe not to most, rational…certainly to me. You see (gonna get deep here) since arriving in Bear River I’ve had an ever present, sometimes overwhelming feeling that I am living a dream. Not a planned one, not even one that I fantasized about when I was out in corporate never-never land, but one that is unfolding before me on a daily basis.My life, like my nightly dreams can not be predicted. Dreams take all manner of twists and turns, sometimes they make no sense, they can be scary, leave me feeling exposed, perplexed, melancholy, happy, sad, angry and even impassioned.  They are dreams, ever changing always interesting dreams. I dream them when I sleep and I live them when I wake. I am living a dream every day, every moment.

Dreamscape

The epiphany…let it be, let it happen, it will unfold like my dreams, like my life.

Opening day…Opening soon!!!

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Friends, food and forging ahead.

OK…so it’s taken me a few weeks to actually get this posted, yes I am pretty busy right now with what I hope are my final preparations.

Last Friday was the spring equinox, a time that I like to celebrate .  The spring equinox signals the time when the battle between light and dark, the Sun and the Moon, has come to an end and, the Sun has won. We are blessed with longer days, the sun is warmer and there is a palpable new energy in the air. The hope of  new things to come. What better way to celebrate than with good food and friends. Yes…I had another dinner party.

I wasn’t even sure that I was going to be able to pull it off. I had already put in a pretty long week  working at Cherry Brook Grocery, but I had not celebrated the last equinox with friends, and since this this is such a time of hope and renewal, I felt that this was the best time to get everyone together. I made a few phone calls, had friends ask friends, and it was set for Friday evening.

I did not know what to expect in terms of how many people would make it, but that soon became clear. What a group! Despite the short notice given to many, there were 32 of us for dinner.   As people started to arrive, and the dining room started to fill, I was struck by a feeling of calm, as I soon realized that everyone that was there, all 32 of us, without exception, is going through a transformation of some kind in our lives. My life is changing, I am facing obstacles on a daily basis, I am taking a big leap of faith in myself, and my community. I’m taking a chance but, we are all changing, taking leaps of faith, dreaming of a better future.

I am not alone.

Some of the group.

Some of the group.

The evening was a good opportunity for me to really see and feel what it will be like to have a full house once I open.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

I have to admit here that I did not cook all the food, but I managed making chicken curry, a few curry toppings (maiata), some fresh haddock for the vegetarians in the crowd and a very few pan tossed scallops. The rest of the food was generously donated by the guests with everything from samosa to sushi, some wonderful roasted vegetables, and a few salads. Once again cooperation makes for a great evening, and a lot less work for me.

and the desserts

and the desserts

Everyone had a great time, with a bit of wine and conversations ranging from gardening to renovating and all points in between.  With dinner finished, and before I knew what was happening, my kitchen was buzzing with laughter and the clinking of dishes as friends took over the clean up.

The cleaning crew.

The cleaning crew.

What a night. Many bottles of wine later the evening came to a close and I was left with a renewed feeling of energy and confidence, enough to forge ahead and get er’ done!!

More to come.

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Reflecting…

It has been a few days since I wrote and posted my last blog, long enough for me to reflect on its content. I am learning a few things about the process of writing a blog:  1. timing is everything; if I choose to write in ‘the heat of the moment’ my words will convey those emotions, as evidenced by my last blog post and, 2. stay positive;  while I find it cathartic to write everything I am feeling and experiencing, I need to remember to take the time afterward to reflect on all of those things that I am grateful for…and there are many.

I am grateful that I can call this place home. Not only do I live in an incredibly picturesque town, I get to wake every morning to this ever changing view.My morning view I really do live in a postcard.

I am grateful for my incredible kids, all young adults now, spread out across the country living their own lives. Their individuality and strength of character are a constant source of pride for me.

I am grateful and blessed to have such wonderful, caring friends. The support and encouragement they give me on a daily basis help keep me driven and focused.

I am grateful to have been given this opportunity. Working towards having one of my dreams become a reality has been extraordinary. Despite the problems that have been encountered along the way to opening the Bear River Cafe, the whole process has been enlightening,  frightening, invigorating, tiring and educational. I am learning to embrace all that comes from this experience and keep moving forward.

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Water what???

So I am wondering just how many hoops, hurdles and roadblocks I will need to  jump through, over and around. I just got off the phone with the department of agriculture, they are in charge of food safety regulations. It seems that despite being a registered water carrier and having a ultra violet water filter installed,  I now  need to become a registered water supply holder. I have a tank…it holds water…better have that registered. How easy will that be? Lets see, first of all this town is in both Digby and Annapolis counties,  the Dept. of Agriculture, at least where food safety is concerned, covers both counties in Bear River…great…that makes things easier. Hold on though, you see, the Department of the Environment is in charge of water safety, now they do use county lines to separate jurisdictions. That means that I now need to deal with the Annapolis county branch of the Environmental Dept. and the Digby county branch of  the Agricultural Department. I already know how well governmental departments communicate with each other, which is about as well as a fish and a goat would communicate with each other. You get the idea.

Starting a business, any kind of business, is scary enough in this time of, as Mr. Harper puts it, “technical recession”. Well technically these delays are speeding along the process of making me technically broke! I am trying to accomplish something that would provide a few jobs for people in this town, and another open storefront here would certainly help to revitalize the downtown area, it’s a start. First though I need to get off the starting block  and apparently someone has added super glue and this is where I am stuck.

Something needs to start going right…Right???

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About the name…

Nomad 1 : a member of a people who have no fixed residence but move from place to place usually seasonally and within a well-defined territory 2 : an individual who roams about

There are many types of stories. Some are short stories, some can be epics and then there are the tall tales, the tragedy’s and  the comedies. This is simply the story behind the name I have chosen for this blog. It does contain a bit of comedy, some tragedy, starts as a short story but it could turn into an epic. Tall tale… nah, just my tale about the name…Bear River Nomad.

Before I moved to Bear River I was living on a self sustaining farm in the Bridgetown area. There were a few goats, some chickens, ducks, a horse and Eddy the donkey.

A woven fence we made after thinning our woodland with the greenhouse in the background.

A woven fence we made after thinning our woodland with the greenhouse in the background.

At the back door, wanting to be a house goat!

At the back door, wanting to be a house goat!

Our Canadian Iron horse cross.

Our Canadian Iron horse cross.

Work before play.

Work before play.

While my partner and I loved the life for each our own reasons we just didn’t enjoy it together, and so went our separate ways. Faced with starting over again and not having a clue what the next step would be, I called my friends Tracy and Rick  in Bear River. Opening their home to me they offered me both rest and respite, an opportunity  to re-assess  and regenerate. I spent the first few months there getting to know Bear River, meeting a few people, and doing a lot of walking. I will never forget what Tracy and Rick did for me, and will forever be grateful.  My first move.

In July of 2007 I volunteered my time helping out with the Bear River Cherry carnival, while there I was lucky enough to run into an old acquaintance of mine, Jon Welch, manning the booth next to mine. I met Jon in 2003, the year that I arrived in Nova Scotia, at one of his famous (or soon to be) Halloween parties. While we were catching up I mentioned that I would soon be looking for a space of my own. At the time Jon was still living a bi-coastal life; planting trees in British Columbia most of the year, and returning to Nova Scotia a few times a year when his work, and time permitted. Jon generously offered his home to me since he was planning, once again, to make the trek back to B.C. within the next few months. And so, after spending some time in Montreal, I moved in to Jon’s house in October of the same year. My second move.

During the next 15 months, I enjoyed the wonderful energies that this house on Pleasant street (how appropriate) offered.

The house on Pleasant that I called home.

The house on Pleasant that I called home.

Jon and Erin's house. A place I called home...for a while.

Jon and Erin's house. A place I called home...for a while.

Jon was incredibly accomodating during that time, helping me feel right at home and letting me be the kitchen Nazi that I can be, although not without a lot of ribbing on his part. On his visits home from the west coast, over many bottles of wine, sitting on the back porch until the wee hours of the morning, we soon became fast friends. A friendship that I still treasure.

In the last few months that I spent at Jon’s I was busy making plans to begin the next chapter of my life, preparing to open the Bear River Café. All was going great, timing was perfect, Jon was due to return to Bear River permanently with his love; Erin and I was slated to begin my move  to the café the month before. It would be a smooth transition…or so I thought.

On the day that I chose to move my belongings to my new home, with excitement and anticipation mounting, friends Tony and Teresa and I packed the first load. We made our way to my new place, grabbed a box each out of the van and I opened the door. What we found was not what was expected, water everywhere, running down the walls, from the light fixtures, on the floor…a flood! There was so much water damage that it would be impossible for me to move in yet, and certainly not before Jon and Erin returned from B.C. to start their life. Alternate plans would have to be made, another move. Back to Rick and Tracy’s it would be until my place could be cleaned up and re-built. My third move.

Finally, after weeks of worry, my place was ready, I could move in! The first week of February 09′ with the help and support of my wonderful friends, I was finally making my fourth, and final move.

The place I now call home.

The place I now call home.

I am here, in my place, and a new chapter begins.

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