Out of the ordinary


This weekend past, I spent a couple of days in magical Bear River, a little village, population 900 (I think), in northern Nova Scotia. The landscape, the people, the spirit, all seduced my senses, making it hard to leave. I think the blessings of Bear River are better said by the painter, Flora Doehler. She and her husband, Larry Knox, also an artist, moved from Toronto to Bear River seven years ago. I met them Friday night at Robert Buckland-Nicks’. He owns the Flight of Fancy shop in the village. It seems more and more artists are moving to Bear River all the time. It is a little hot spot for the arts.

I left a big hot spot, NYC, to move to rural Nova Scotia in 1984. When I first came here, I lived by the ocean. The sea gulls were the most noise I would hear all day; I would make a bowl of popcorn and sit by the window, watch the scenery. I was in a little fishing village, population 1200. It was picturesque but not a friendly neighborhood. I was from “away” and would always be that. My next door neighbor would threaten to kill my dogs if they ever got on his property again. I’d have to take the dogs (just two golden retrievers) in a car somewhere to go for a walk. Now I live by a lake, look out at it every day, swim and boat and, when it is frozen, walk there. There are trails in the woods and almost everyone has a friendly dog or two.

The people too are very friendly, although there are few artists close by. I do miss that although I value my privacy and time to paint. But the scenery is special. And it is quiet. Nature is not my inspiration for a painting but it is inspiration for painting. It gives the space that allows something to happen.

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