Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mlkikney Mirma'si!-

My apologies for not posting more frequently. For both work and personal reasons, I've been on the road so much in the past week that my toothbrush left a polite note on the hotel bathroom vanity claiming Vitamin D deficiency and asking to be left out of its travel case for a little daylight now and then.

Last Friday it was Halifax, where I got a CI Processor tuneup. The difference is notable. I described it to audiologist "Helen" as being "like cleaning your glasses". Sometimes you don't even realize they're dusty and smudged until you polish the lenses and the world becomes crystal-clear again. This time, I had noticed that my hearing had become "smudged" and had requested the visit.

I barely had time to return home before work put me into a rental car and on the road north to the Miramichi region of the province. I've stayed and had meetings with folks in both Bathurst and the City of Miramichi (an amalgamation of a number of what used to be smaller individual communities along both sides of the Miramichi River, including Chatam, Newcastle, Douglastown, and so on). This part of the province is very French, has strong Native and Irish roots and populations, and, positioned as it is somewhere between Quebec and southern New Brunswick and the rest of the Maritmes, it has a sensibility and culture very much its own. (The title of this post is "Welcome to the Miramichi" in Mik'maq.)

It is the region brought to life, sometimes depressingly so, by David Adams Richards in his novels (I believe Canadian literary guidelines demand that I insert the word "gritty" in there somewhere, but I've never much been one for guidelines). Its pre-European-contact history is one of abundance for the local Mik'maq people; its post-contact history one of prosperity (for the Europeans, at least), timber export and shipbuilding (Joseph Cunard of the "Cunard Line" shipbuilding and transatlantic shipping family, made - and lost - his fortune here).

But that was then, and like many places with a rich history and a hardscrabble present, it's full of fascinating contradictions.

The industry has waned and today the region chronically has the highest unemployment rates in the province; but the river is still acknowledged to be one of the finest salmon rivers in the world (the word Miramichi is derived from the Mik'maq word mirma'si, meaning "Giver of Life"), and baseball players Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and former US President GW Bush are among the notables who were and are fond of getting away for some fly-fishing here.

And now, after some very successful liaison work with local community groups, I'm packing to hit the road southward again to my own river, the Saint John, and - I hope - a little breathing time. Husband is wonderful, but frankly the cats really suck at phone comm.



Blogger Xtreme English said...

this sounds so much more fascinating and alive than other regions, like Washington, DC, where the bus has to pull over to let Dick Cheney's motorcade rocket home on Mass Ave, and one's only response is a finger held high!

9:28 p.m.  

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