Dailies: April 8, 2013

Ah, the start of a new week! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, there are lots of cats everywhere. Today’s high for St. Stephen was a whopping 12 degrees, which was phenomenal for us (although we are told by the residents that this is still a pretty cold April by comparison–people are still in mittens in the morning and who can blame them). As it is in most of our communities, our first few days are all about getting the word out about the workshops. We usually accomplish this by taking posters around to local businesses, which is a pretext to get to talk to the people in those businesses. I’m not sure anyone has come to one of our workshops just because they saw a poster.

Anyway, we started by heading to the university to ask Katie to print up a sheaf of posters for us. She offered to take us around the “campus” (in quotation marks here because it is primarily composed of the one building), and we gladly agreed. It was a very gratifying experience to see a school so small that students live, eat, and work all in the same hallways–they are much more able to make their learning space a personal environment. That and their main hall is wallpapered with red velvet.

Next we took a stroll over to the Chocolate Museum to introduce ourselves to our other contact, Sarah Goulding. She had been tasked to some degree with handling our arrival by the mayor’s office, which is right next door. She showed us around the museum, which was a fabulously thorough exhibit, and, though I’m sure we will go into the Chocolate Museum and Ganong Chocolate in much greater depth later, let me just say that a) the Ganong story is a true exemplar of capitalist modesty and self-restraint, and b) they sold a chocolate care package for soldiers during the First World War whose box was so resilient that it could be stood upon.

We spent the next couple of hours touring the town, popping in to the shops to greet the owners and putting up posters (with a pit stop at Carman’s Diner for my new favourite meal–a scallop roll). We’d been trying to involve the local media here but hadn’t been having much luck until Brian Mumford from the St. Croix Courier emailed us and asked us to phone in. As it turned out we were passing the building where the Courier is printed and where their reporting staff is housed, so we dropped in. Brian was a very nice Nova Scotian transplant who interviewed us and went to take some pictures of our bus with us. He mentioned something in passing that we must have known if we had thought about it but that never dawned on us: north of the river in St. Stephen, the time zone is Atlantic. South, however, in Maine, is Eastern. By crossing this river on the north-south axis, one either gains an hour or loses an hour. This is of great significance to the people in St. Stephen and Calais, because they share so many services and events. Brian told us that the locals refer to it as “Canadian time” and “American time”, respectively.

The evening was spent mostly around the bus, cleaning and preparing for tomorrow which entails even more promotion and (hopefully) getting involved with the schools.

Yours,

Ryder

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