gude clouds here

No insects today. Instead, it’ll be a story written before retiring tonight. If the weather cooperates, we’re off to do some canoeing in the morning as the temperatures are pretty steamy here — really a bit too warm for hiking. We have a few favourite creeks over-arched by trees, where we can paddle along shaded waterways. If we go, I’ll take some photos to share.

Uhm… yes…. so back to the story.

About 5 years ago, I received an email from some friends in Amsterdam that we met over the net. They had been over to visit us a couple of summers before. They wrote to ask if we would be willing to have a friend of theirs come and stay with us for three weeks in July. It seems that she had been invited to stay with a couple in Toronto, but a few weeks before her visit, one of the people got a job offer in another city and they were moving on pronto. The woman was left high and dry with a plane ticket and nowhere to go for her holidays. I thought, “What the heck? Why not?” and checked it out with Don. He said, “Sure. If you like,” so plans went ahead from there. I picked the woman up at the airport… she’s a little older than us… very nice person. We had a fun time getting to know her. She wasn’t too accustomed to country living and found our place so quiet and very dark at night. But she got into the swing of things and enjoyed reading on the back porch, going for swims at a favourite beach in a little cove on one of the local lakes, and generally kicking back and taking it easy. Before she left to return to Amsterdam, we discussed the idea of her coming back the following summer to visit again.

A year passed and our friend returned. My brother’s house in Nova Scotia was standing empty that summer, so we decided that the three of us would take off and head east for a couple of weeks, and make his place our home base for a few days. While there, we did a little daytripping around. One afternoon we ate lunch at a restaurant in Mahone Bay that my brother had recommended. On the wall was painted the phrase, “Leave room for the unexpected.” Our friend took one look at the words, laughed and said that’s what it was like being around me — that she had learned to expect the unexpected while around me. She said she couldn’t explain, so we just left it at that.

A few days later, while traveling down to Parrsboro, we stopped at the general store in Bass River. Don and our friend went inside to get cold drinks and look around at the Bass River chairs that were on display. I waved them on ahead and stayed outside as I’d noticed a young woman sitting on the ground with an ice pack on her leg, her bicycle and camping gear nearby. I went over to ask what was up. Her knee looked pretty terrible as she’d had a bad fall from her bike coming down a steep hill the day before. She and another adult were trip leaders for a bunch of boy scouts from New York State. She’d tried to keep going, but after a day, she couldn’t go on, so they were riding ahead to stay at a campground down at Parrsboro. She’d been trying to make some arrangements to get a taxi to take her ahead down, but hadn’t had much luck as the distances were a little great. I said, “We’re going down that way. We can take you to the campground if you like.” She happily agreed. By the time Don and our friend came out of the store, I had rearranged our luggage and managed to jam the young woman’s bike and camping gear inside our small van, leaving just enough room for all four of us to squeeze in. We had an enjoyable trip down, talking with the young woman about her university studies and her summer job as a trip leader. Enroute to Parrsboro, we stopped to check on the other leader and the gang of young boys on bikes. We dropped the young woman off at the campground, said our goodbyes, and headed on our way. My friend turned to me and said, “You see what I mean? It just happened again. When you are around, expect the unexpected.” I guess she’s right. Stuff just seems to happen. What can I say? Leave room for the unexpected. It’s pretty much my motto in life.

So, about the clouds. They’re the reason that I thought of our friend today. One evening, as she and I were returning from swimming at the cove, just as we turned onto the final stretch of road before the farm, she suddenly asked if I would stop the van. She wanted to take a photo of the sky. There were billowing clouds rising up from the horizon, like a towering mountain range on some fantasy world. As she climbed back into the van after shooting a few photos, my friend shook her head, and in her thick Dutch accent said, “Yew have gude clouds here.” These days, whenever I see “gude clouds”, I think of our friend from Amsterdam.

[* For several months in 2004, I photographed a lot of skyscapes. I chose the odd favourite and put it in a gallery on Pbase. I’m thinking that it would be worth doing again.]

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9 Responses to “gude clouds here”

  1. Wayne Says:

    I must say I like this post. For me it might be better phrased MAKE room for the unexpected – my tendency being to sew everything up so nothing unexpected happens. How great that you and Don are so open to new things.

  2. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – Yes, we’re very open to new things and our plans are always made so that we can shuffle things around a bit. Works for us and has allowed us to have some fairly interesting adventures over the years. I should probably try to write up a few of them to post here. Actually, I just thought of one in particular and it’s making me laugh out loud. I may write it up later this weekend. But speaking of plans, we’ll have to decide whether to take off with the canoe, or do something else. Sunny right now, but possible thunderstorm in the forecast for later today. Thunderstorms and canoes don’t mix well, so we may have a change in plans. Still deciding! (-:

  3. jimmy Says:

    unexpected…is the word for your blog. I never know what I will see and learn about next. It’s great…thank.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    That’s a wonderful story, and a fine motto. I like the unexpected critter that ambles or flies by. It’s often what makes my day. I tend not to leave room for the unexpected human to come into our space, although we have rescued some people like your bike rider, and brought them to safer places.

  5. Peter Says:

    Great story Bev.

    Whenever my relatives visited Canada for the first time from Holland they were always amazed at the size. I’m too young to remember, but my father tells me when he picked up my grandfasther in Toronto and drove back to Kingston, he thought that was half way across the country, until shown on a map just how far he’d gone.

    I know that not what the story was about, I was just reminded of it.

    Did you ever visit “That Dutchmans Farm”? I think it is near Parrsboro. He (Willem) is a naturalist and excellent Gouda maker. I’ve been meaning to go.

  6. Duncan Says:

    Bev, my wife’s mother will be 103 this November, and when we bring her out for the day from the nursing home, she often exclaims about the clouds which she so rarely sees. I think we can take the beauty of the sky for granted.

  7. burning silo Says:

    Jimmy – “unexpected” is what my days are usually like. Even I don’t know what will end up going into the blog until almost the last minute before I start writing! (-:

    Robin – I also love unexpected encounters with birds, mammals and insects. It can really make my day.

    Peter – Funny you should mention the “distance” thing. When my friend from Amsterdam came to visit the first time, she couldn’t get over the distances – even between our farm houses along our road.
    We’ve never been to That Dutchman’s Farm, although we’ve been past it a few times. I should really make a point of stopping off the next time we’re down east. The problem is always too many things to see and do!

    Duncan – I also think we take the beauty of the sky for granted. Here at the farm, we get some great sunrises and sunsets, and also some incredible cloud formations and storm systems passing through. I tend to spend a lot of time looking at the sky because some of the cloud formations seem unreal — almost like fantastic castles in mountain ranges. To me, they seem so “real” in a dimensional sense, that I can barely rationalize what I’m looking at.
    A few years ago, when we visited the Kitt’s Peak observatory east of Tucson, our tour guide said that the average person only spends about 15 minutes per month looking up at the sky. I thought, “What?!! That can’t be right!!” However, I’ve since given it some thought, and apart from people who actually make a point of looking up at the sky, most people probably rarely lift their eyes above the “chatter” going on around them.

  8. Wayne Says:

    Bev – that’s an incredible statistic. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the students I run into who don’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on in the real world around them. After a month of drought, when it finally rained, it wasn’t just students complaining about the “bad weather”.

    I always hate to leave with a rant, so I will offer this: *I* look up into the sky to see what’s going on dozens of times during the day (and night!). It fascinates me. And usually at least a few times during the day, I sit down and note the cloud types and direction they’re travelling. I know that in the next month we’re going to have a few weeks of clouds travelling in a very unusual direction, for us, – from the east, when most of the year they come from the south or northwest. I’m watching for that to start happening.

    It’s so sad to see people who can do nothing but navel-gazing.

  9. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – Yes, initially I thought so too, but as I said, after giving it more thought, I realized that people who are in cities, probably don’t spend much time looking up at the sky as they wouldn’t really be seeing much anyhow. Here, the sky is such a huge part of the horizon in every direction that I may well study it more than I do the surrounding countryside. Also, I think that people who have to make decisions based on weather — farmers, those who go onto lakes or the ocean in boats, etc… are constantly reading the weather. That’s certainly true when I’m out in the canoe. For example, yesterday, we could see thunderheads and hear the odd ominous rumble in the distance, so we decided to head back for the put-in and had plenty of time to get the canoe loaded and tied-down before the first raindrops fell.