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You Can’t Go Home.....

On September 6, 2010 as we were leaving Newfoundland and entering Nova Scotia,  I wanted to stop in Springhill one more time.   It is the place of my ancestry, the place that my Grandmother came from.   It is the place where me and my brothers spent part of our summers each year and it is the place that I took my children to when they were babies and then grown children.
Springhill,  a coal mining town in the North part of Nova Scotia,  a town of hard workers and very simple people.   People who love their town,  who at one time cherished family and friends and who knew that things would not get better.   They lived a hard life and even when my Grandmother moved to the states she kept her eye on her family.   Everytime there was a coal mining disaster she would be glued to the t.v. waiting to see if this time it would be “one of her’s”.   Sometimes it was but even when it wasn’t it was someone that she knew.   Springhill you see, was a community of souls tied together through-out life.  A shared existence that spilled over into family,  friends and friends of friends and when my Grandmother died we were still treated as family by everyone in that town.  
As children it was the highlight of our summers.    Because neither my Mom or my Grandmother had a car and my Dad was in the military my Grandmother would always find us a ride with someone going “home”.   For that reason only two of us kids could go in any given year.   I was always so happy when it was my turn.  My Mom would make fried chicken and potato salad and some kind of dessert for the long trip over.   I can remember that fried chicken still.   It was not something that we got on a regular bases so it was very special.   We’d pack the car and just leaned  into that 12 hour trip.   By the time my kids came along the trip was a few hours shorter and we stopped at roadside restaurants but I think we were the lucky ones with the fried chicken.
Each year because there were so many of us we would get separated when we got there.   Not many rooms in those “pit houses” but none of us minded.   We loved being there and during the day we would once again find ourselves at one of my Aunt’s or what was referred to as an Aunt.   None of it mattered because they were all loving us up and making special treats for us.   We could cross the road (dirt) and go to the store all by ourselves and get the best chips in the whole world.   Canadian Humpty Dumpty. Today you can not find those special chips.     At 4:00 each day when the whistle blew the whole family would walk down to the mine shaft and wait for my Uncles to come out.   
I was totally fascinated with this process of meeting my family at the pit entrance.   Their faces were pitch black and we couldn’t kiss them until they had cleaned up.   Up they came with helmets with lights attached.   How cool was that and they were always so happy to see us.  I loved going to the mines. For a small child it was a great adventure.  It wasn’t until many years later that we learned of it dangers.  The air in Springhill even smelled of coal and this lasted for many years after the mines were shut down.   I remember the first time Jim and I walked the mine field after the closing and I was very aware that the smell was finally gone but it was 30 years later.  I was so sad that I couldn’t smell the coal anymore.    Then though when we were little  we walked home from the mines after waiting for the men to change into street clothes in the wash room.
So long ago those memories of family and friends.   Of coal mines and black faces and of dirt roads and outhouses.   Memories of going into the fields to pick fresh blueberries each summer and taking them home and Aunt Lila making pies and cakes and dumplings with those fresh blueberries.   Memories of seeing the moon rise straight out across the field in the back yard.  Memories of laughter and tears and fear.  Of spiders and smells in the outhouse and of hoping you didn’t have to pee in the middle of the night.   I remember a quiet so quiet it was scary.   The smell of the soap in the bathroom that had no tub but still you felt clean and cared for.   In bed at night I would listen to the laughter of the grown ups and now I understand how precious their time together was.   To meet only once a year.   And Springhill is where I learned to drink tea.   
This day I went to visit the one last connection that I have in Springhill.  He was my Grandmother’s best friends son.   He took us in after his Mom died and for many years we have been visiting him.   He was family.   This time when we visited him,  he was in a nursing home and he didn’t know who Jim and I were and it was so sad.   I talked to him and he talked to me but as a stranger,  not as someone he knew since I was a baby.   I left him after several hours and went to town.  I walked the streets  that I walked as a child and I visited the pit and my Aunt’s house and then I sat.
Sitting on the Liar’s Bench for the last time (spent many a night there) looking out over the coal mines,  just turning slightly I could see Annie’s house and I realized “you can’t go home”.   You can’t go home because there is no body there anymore.   There is a street named Harrison Ave.  That is my  family name.   There are no more Harrison’s.   I also realized that the  little town of Springhill is as old as my people.   It has deteriorated just as my family has.   Now instead of being that wonderful playground I loved growing up it felt like a ghost town.   I could feel their presence,  those that walked those streets before me.   I could still see the pit entrance but now it had a coal cart with a sign stating the closing after the 58 mine disaster.   I was glad I came to say goodbye to my friend but this time as I leave I take my memories of my family and childhood with me,   knowing that there is no need for me to return.   
I’m going home now to my family and to Liam......we will make new memories.    Not such a bad exchange.   
September 25, 2010
1 Comment 
Cheryl, I lived through it all with your eyes.  Wonderful!  Sad to see a city close down after the last mine tragedy...there was nothing left for them when the mine closed.  I remember going with Uncle Fred to the mine to see the men come up...they were all happy because they were glad to be out of the pit alive for another day.  I took pictures of them all running out to get to the washroom.  When I returned to Aunt Lila's I had to take a bath, and the ring of coal dust on the tub showed me how much dust was in the air, and probably in our lungs.  It was a hard, hard life for them all.
Sorry to hear about Ralph.  He was a good, simple man that couldn't do enough for you.  Another good memory.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 11:16 AM
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On The Road Again.....this time with Gracie and Chris. 

We are heading to the Big Rock of Newfoundland.   This will be our first long road trip in quite some time.   We are all pretty excited,  especially Gracie.   She has not been with us for a long trip yet but she knows it will be more fun than staying home without us for two weeks.   I will be so happy to have her to snuggle with each night.   And if it’s cold over there,   she is like a little blast furnace under the covers.   Yea for Gracie....she has the heart and spirit of  much bigger dog.   Don’t tell her she only weights 5 pounds.   She’s off to fight the Moose.
For the first time in many years Chris will be joining us on this road trip.   It’s the perfect trip for the three of us.   He will lead us into the woods,  up mountain trails and through the river and icebergs.   I always feel safe when I’m with him as he is the best field guide that I know.   We never get lost and if we do,  he’ll know just what to do.   On the other hand,  he is not a photographer so going with Jim and I and our multitude of camera gear will be a stretch for him,  but guess what,  we’ve polished up the old 30d, put in a one gig card and we’ll teach him a thing or two.   One thing I know for sure,  we will have the best time ever.
Jim has had the truck detailed,   I’ve packed us the best lunch,  including LeCreme Charddony and the boys will be picking up some Canadian beer as soon as they cross the border.
It will be an adventure that I have been waiting many years to do.   One more thing off my “bucket list”.   I might even find some of my grandfather’s relatives there.   Newfoundland was their home before they migrated to Nova Scotia.
The only sad thing is that I have to leave The Barton’s home.   I hope Liam doesn’t forget me.   I’ll miss him so much.   I have packed a framed photo of him that I will put on my nightstand at each cabin that we visit.   Who knew this part would be so difficult.   
So stay posted.   I’ll be blogging this trip.   It will be my first time and I’ll also be posting photo’s along the way on my Mobile Me Gallery.   If your interested in coming along for the ride,  just check out the web pages every few days.   In the meantime,  stay safe and remember to get out there and enjoy life no matter where the road takes you.
Carpe Diem my friends.
To visit us on the road click here, it will take you to my MobileMe Gallery.
August 24, 2010
Have a wonderful time, stay safe, be happy, and I hope you capture a few of Gods pretty pictures and send them our way....I'll be looking forward to them all! Love you xoxo
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 11:11 AM
Kris Martinelli
I hope you all have a wonderful trip and I will be check your blog every day. I envy how adventurous you are. Safe journey!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 11:52 AM
sue ackerman
Cheryl, you not only have a way with the camera but also a way to spill out your soul with words.  Thank you
Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 07:25 AM
I like this, you will surely enjoy your travels, oh and if ever you need another guide for this fine country of ours, well, you just call on me, oh and I will bring my own camera gear...:-))))
Sunday, August 29, 2010 - 05:25 PM
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Sunshine, ocean waves and Relaxation. 

Just a quick page today  about our weekend in Cohasset.   Jim and I have been fortunate to have spent time here before but this was the first time our kids have come.
Our wonderful friend Nancy,  once again,  gave us her oceanfront house to enjoy.   She is such a generous person and our love for her has grown over the years,  especially since the  loss of her partner and one of our best friends,  John.   I always say Nancy was John’s final gift to us.
The house is gorgeous and sits right on the ocean in Cohasset.   At night you can see the Boston sky-line to your left and Minot lighthouse to your right.   It is one of the few places where you can see both a sunset and a sunrise just by turning your head.    Waves rock you to sleep at night and the seagulls (which I like) wake you in the morning.   The smell of salt air is the perfume of the day.
I was so glad that Chris,  Jenna and Luke could enjoy this beauty.   It was especially bitter-sweet because we knew it would be our last time there.   Nancy will sell the house soon and move on.   It is time.   For us,  it will always be a place of beautiful memories,  not only for what it is but for what it held in friendship and joy.
Thank you Nancy and John for the gift of lasting friendship that even death cannot take away.
Move on my friends into the life that is now meant for you.   Move on in love and gratitude.   We will find you in your new digs.......xoxo



Liam Tucked Safely in his Mom's Nesting Place


I took this photo of Jenna just a few weeks before Liam arrived. It was such a miracle to see this all transpire.  I am so glad we were able to share this precious time with her.   My baby girl,  having a baby.   WOW

 Liam safely tucked into his Mom’s nesting place. Jenna and Luke came to celebrate the Labor Day weekend and their first Anniversary here at The Maine House.   We had such a good time.   Weather was perfect for boating and just being lazy.   Eating to much and just enjoying each other’s company.   Both Riley and Gracie had a sweet time also.   Riley loves coming to swim and Gracie loves hanging on the deck and playing ball.   

It has been such a wonderful 7 months with Jenna.   Watching her as she carries my “Lil Man” safely  tucked in her womb.   Sometimes I wish we could just take him out and play with him and then put him back.   It is almost time and I think of him everyday.   I love him already and have for many years,  even before he was conceived.
I think of Jenna also.   Seeing my baby girl carrying a baby is such a gift.   Such a joy to see the future through her and the past through me.   Life is a circle that continues.   With his birth I will have experienced 7 generations,  going back to my Great Grammy Harrison,  my grandmother Nani,  My Mom, Me,  Jenna and Now “Lil” Man”.  Such an amazing thing.   I will teach him like my Grams taught me and how my Mom taught Jenna.   It seems to me the greatest lesson we learn from our Gram’s is love.   
As Jenna grows,  I also remember the times when I carried her.   I remember how much she was wanted.   With 7 years between Chris and her  we knew what a blessing they both were and we didn’t take either for granted.   She carries like I did.  She has moved through her pregnancy the same as me.   No morning sickness,  and a sense of wonder at this awesome gift she holds.   I know she will be the best Mom ever,   well after me.   My baby girl  sharing yet another gift between Mom and daughter.   A mom and a daughter carry a special bond, especially at this time.   I just hope she knows how much this baby means to all of us.   It is hers,  but it is mine also,  just as she is mine. I’ll always be her Mom and she will always be his Mom and I’ll always be his Nana.   This weekend I felt his little body move and when it did so did my heart.September 6, 2009

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