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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Spirit of its Own

Updated: Sunday Aug 15th

So much to talk about, so little time to talk about it. It's Sunday morning, it's warm outside, still summer but the evenings cool off fast, ya just know that fall and winter are just around the corner, but for now lets get back to summer.
Natal day weekend we went camping at a place in Nova Scotia called The Mermaid and the Cow.

This is a very special place. Not only is the campground itself located in a beautiful natural setting in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, but the whole camping experience was beautiful.
Let me explain. This is a campground aimed at the gay community. Now, normally I'm not one for gay this, gay that, but I was drawn to this campground first out of curiosity and secondly out of it's convenient location for a quick trip. I thought about it for a number of years having heard of it through the colourful grapevine but this year we decided to go. I had no real expectations except for a quiet weekend get-away.

Upon arriving we were greeted and personally welcomed by the owner, Jane and introduced to her fiance Sue. Jane explained a bit about the campground's services and the local area and then directed us to the cabin we would be staying in. (We were lucky enough to have reserved the only cabin; I'll talk about that later.) Right from the moment we drove up the little hill into the lane there was a positive vibe. Located on a grassy hill and visible from everywhere at the campround a rainbow flag waved gently in the summer breeze. To our right we saw a barn, and recognized a small rainbow sticker on the tractor parked in the barn, a welcoming and familiar sign. We also noted a unique horse in the field. So homey. To our left we saw an RV, some other campers and array of tents dotting the green land. The place is surrounded by trees creating a sense of privacy or a hugging sensation. (in us more dramatic folks) Right away I knew we had made the right choice.

The cabin is sweet. A camping cabin, so you still feel you are camping, but it has everything you need, a shower, a toilet, a two burner gas stove, a full size fridge, and a very charming functional cooking wood stove. Aside from the stove which helped warm up the mornings and cooked some bacon & eggs, my favorite part was the screened in room that overlooks the campground. There is an amazing view in the distance too, hills and green as far as you can see. It was so relaxing sitting in that porch writing, feeling the breeze, not being bothered by the bugs. It was so quiet and peaceful. The cabin was well worth the fee we paid to stay there.
Something that struck me was the fact that there are no wires going to the cabin, visually this is pleasing but it also gives a sense of not being connected to the world for a moment even though you are. I like that.
Another thing that took me by surprise was the sense of community that I felt here. For a weekend it was a treat to be surrounded by like minded people. Every weekend evening there is a communal fire so you don't feel so awkward showing up and joining in, making it easy to meet new people and possibly make new friends and connections. We happened to be there on a long weekend so as a result there was special events like a dance on the Sat. night with a dj that played great music for a diverse crowd. And if that was not enough already there were fireworks near the end of the dance, and a potluck dinner on Sunday in the screened in gazebo which Jane calls the Gayzebo. Another way to meet people and establish the sense of community which to my own surprise I really liked.
Don't get me wrong, I've lots of community in my life, professional community, my writer's community, local community...this was different though. There was a sense of freedom to just be and do what you what. There was a real feeling of respect in the air, for difference, for individuality, and for sameness if this is possible???
I think that for me this was a wonderful weekend camping experience and that I have since re-entered my normal daily life...but for some others, this unique place might be a very important part of their personal journey. This place might be helping someone feel a real sense of pride that they might not have felt elsewhere, help them feel connected to a community, help them move forward, feel validated and that, I think, is priceless and one of the reasons I feel this little place in the middle of nowhere is so very special.
For me it was a place where I could dance freely and openly with my partner, where we could
walk hand in hand and not think twice about it...things like this, and it's just a great campground aside from all that. (did I mention the swimming pool) So I really applaud Jane and anyone who has or is helping her with this campground. I feel that this place of great importance that has a spirit all of it's own. We do plan to return and I hope you will check it out too if it suits your life.


There was lots to do in the area too. Nearby there is a maple syrup farm called SugarMoon that also has a restaurant serving hardy and tasty maple products. I can still taste the maple coffee and hot biscuit with maple butter. But what I remember distinctly is the small rainbow sticker on the door. Very welcoming. Then when you leave (or even if you don't go to the restaurant) if you are so inclined you can go for a hike. There is a 6.2 km wilderness trail which we did and enjoyed very much, and there is also a shorter trail for those not so ready for a long hike. I know, I sound like an ad, but I think this experience is worth sharing. the area is so beautiful.

River John is quaint, Tatamagouche is cute, Rushton's beach is nearby. We went there, flew a rainbow kite and hung out for a while. We also visited a lavender farm and had some lavender ice cream and visited a sheep farm.

Yes, we did lots, but I imagine if you just wanted to stay put, that The Mermaid and The Cow is a quiet and peaceful place to do just that. I'm not sure I could do straight camping again. Now there's a sentence I never thought I would print...until next time