My pregnancy was spent breathing in the magically healing stink of the marshes on a low tide. She has seen horses in the field across the road all of her life, and swam in the sea every summer.
My husband and I moved to the county about 10 years ago, maybe not coincidently, we bought our old house by the sea one month after the 911 tragedy.
Sometimes we feel as if we are speaking a different language from those that have lived here all their lives. We are considered city folks by our country neighbours still, but the longer we stay the deeper our roots grow.
My eldest daughter jokes that our family is like an immigrant family who still carry the accent and body language of our home country (in our case, Toronto). Her younger brother has a foot in both countries, but her little sister belongs here and needs no translators. With her easy confidence and relaxed attitude, she is our passport to the rural world.
Every Saturday my little daughter and I head to our local market in Sackville, New Brunswick, where we get the weekend Globe and Mail, have breakfast at Mel’s and buy a selection of vegetables, fruit, pork, beef, eggs, bread and buns from our friends and neighbours.
This sunny and festive Saturday the market was also hosting a multicultural fair so I had curried chicken for breakfast and haflal (I am not sure about the name but it is a porridge of semolina wheat and sweet milk that is delicious). Maud had a waffle and then we decided to head to the Fall Fair.
I have taken the children to the small but still terrifying rides at the country midway before, with the spooky carnies and pink candy floss, but I had not crossed the road to discover the country fall fair.
We made our way to the Doncaster Farm, a working farm nestled behind the highway on the outskirts of town, and found a fall fair full of farm animals, live music and hay piles.
The sun began to warm up the cool fall day and the air was sweet with hay and flowers.
Maud and I declined the chance to milk a cow (I heard a joke once about the bravest man in the world being the one who discovered that cow’s milk was good) but did listen to the old timers playing great bluegrass, get lost in the cow maze, take in a pony ride and watch the last part of a wood cutting competition.
Burly farm boys competed to see who could throw an axe into a target, and I did hope that the boys would not throw the two bladed axe into the crowd by accident.
Then the teams had a competition to see who could build a fire and get a pot of water boiling faster. That was entertaining, and impressive. Once the fire was going the men took turns blowing on the fire, turning their heads away from the fire to gather air, and then blowing on the fire in tandem.
Finally they had a relay in which the men had to cut through a large log while standing on it, and then proceed to other bizarre but manly tasks. I was alarmed to see the young man closest to us flinch in his task, take a quick look at this foot, and then continue with his chopping. He had just chopped into his foot.
He finished the relay, but not surprisingly, did not win. After the competition he sat down in the back tent, had his foot bandaged, and was soon out in the crowd signing autographs on pieces of sawed wood for little children.
I am no longer at the fall fair with an ironic grin. I have friends here and I know the children. One day my little daughter may date one of those sweet tough farm boys.