Place Where You Live:

The Granite Coast, Nova Scotia

Canadian geese flee the approach of a hiker along the High Head Trail.

The Granite Coast is not a soft place to live. Those who love its wild beauty often flee its exacting embrace. The howl of the wind can become too familiar. The salt spray eats through the car where the rustproofing won’t reach and stunts most gardens. Fog shrouds both water and land for weeks every year. Winters are long. Shipwrecks are legion.

Why do some remain?

I love the wild beauty so much that I’m willing to embrace its challenges. It’s very much like a marriage. The beauty you escort to the altar may have a terrible temper. You can leave her and settle for something else, or you can make riding the waves of her passion a part of your passion, and you can grow old together passionately, which is a singular bliss.

I’m a fan of waves. Such a fan that I’ve written a book about riding them. Rowga, The Yoga of Rowing is about ocean rowing as meditation. In the North Atlantic off Prospect, Nova Scotia, my village, I take my 16-foot dory into sunshine and fog, flat calms and whitecaps, rain and snow, day and night. All these conditions can be seen to be accomodated by the vast expanse of ocean as our varying emotions are accomodated by the vast expanse of mind. It’s taught me equanimity, that joy comes from within and can be tapped anytime.

If the power goes out, I can cook on my woodstove, for music have surf instead of stereo, watch the wind on the water instead of a movie. Yet we don’t lack for amenities. Halifax the capitol and concerts and fine dining are less than half an hour away. We have high speed Internet. We can buy our lobsters off the wharf from our neighbours.

Ghost stories abound here, and you know why? Because ghosts are often spirits so attached to their home they can’t bear to move on. I tell the ghosts in my basement that I sympathize, and that they’re welcome to stay as long as they behave themselves.

The compromise seems to be working.