Thank you to everyone who submitted a story to the nonfiction portion of the Winter in the Bay writing contest. The judges for the adult and teen sections of the contest had a very difficult task, finally awarding first place to two writers. Happily for us, we will be able to read all the stories submitted. But we’ll start with the tying winning essays. Congratulations to Beth Sherwood and Joan Redmond, our first-place storytellers.
It’s not too late for you to tell your story! Submit your fictional short story (maximum length 2,500 words) by March 15 at 11:59 p.m. to firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in the fiction contest. Or submit your nonfiction essay of 350 words or less or your fictional short story of 2,500 words or less anytime for sharing. We will post it here once all contest entries have been published. Let’s keep telling our stories of the Bay!
We met on Thursdays.
At first it was awkward. After all, we barely knew each other. I’d invited him for coffee. He preferred tea. He’d shown up, somewhat mystified about the whole affair.
Whoever got there first would scout out a spot. My preference was to sidle in against the narrow window that looked down the trail or to make a beeline upstairs to the quieter section.
He had tea- lemon ginger. Me, dark roast.
We met for an hour. We’d complain about the weather, the state of the world, the state of our finances and our declining health. We talked about past trips. His had been by bicycle, motorbike, canoe and sailboat. Mine had been in hiking boots or “little Red”, the nickname he gave my car.
At the hour, he’d announce the time. Pulling on coats, we set off in opposite directions- he in his beloved white Cadillac, I in “little Red”.
Over time we relaxed into friendship. We squabbled about paying the tab and reminded one another to play a Toonie for the local raffle. He’d swap old New Yorker magazines for my homemade soup.
Also there were the poems- one per week slipped in an envelope for him to open later. About them, he thought I had some grand scheme but they were simply a way to carry on the conversation. To stir hope, revive a feeling, crack a smile or paint beauty.
I don’t remember exactly when it became awkward again. But it did. Like a winter fog it crept in and chilled: we needed masks; we needed distance; we were locked out. When permitted to return, we didn’t. He was asthmatic and immuno-compromised. I’d just finished chemotherapy.
We know spring will come again. And when it does, the first at the station can nip in for our regular order. We’ll sit outside on the platform, watch the procession of dogs being walked and be thrilled when the horse passes by. Once again we’ll complain about the weather, the state of the world, our finances and declining health. It will be wonderful.
Beth Sherwood says she was inspired by Beth Matthews’ painting to write her story. To read Beth Matthews’ story about the “The Station,” visit the Winter in the Bay online gallery and click on the image of the painting.
My Month of Unbelievable Adventures
Most of us have times that take us to our limits of endurance. Mine was over one month, when my husband Allan and I decided, as a challenge, to sail the Caribbean, leaving winter weather at home.
The Evangeline G was a wonderful 36-foot fibreglass cutter rigged sailboat. Along with two friends, we sailed her from Bermuda on December 20, 1994, headed for the Bahamas. Five days later, we were battling an unpredicted storm of nightmare proportions.
Our sails shredded, our engine flooded, and waves were higher than our 45-foot masthead. Getting out of the cabin and securing our lifelines was becoming almost impossible. The damage to the boat—and to us—was adding up.
The storm eased off briefly, and we attempted repairs. Then, another more severe storm hit. With our steering disabled, we put out our sea anchor.
And things got worse. We were barely able to stand, even holding onto any part of the boat we managed to grab. We desperately needed help, and put out a call for a vessel that might give aid. A ship replied, then cut off communication.
Finally, a container ship, the San Antonio, answered. Battered and bruised, we were rescued in storm conditions by very brave men, and taken to New York on the San Antonio.
On the flight home from New York, wearing the boots and rain gear in which we had been rescued, we tried to relax, thinking about seeing our daughters.
Shortly after take-off, the pilot announced there was a problem with one of the engines, saying they thought the plane “should be able to make it to Halifax.” The plane, diverting from the usual flight path, hugged the coastline all the way home. I braced myself for another emergency, relieved when we landed safely.
A week later, we were injured in a five-vehicle accident involving two 18-wheelers and three cars. Our Honda Civic was no match for the 18-wheeler that hit us head-on. We spent the rest of that winter home in Nova Scotia, recovering.
The following winter, Allan and I returned to sail in the Caribbean.
Joan Redmond decided to tell the story of her adventure-filled month first, and then looked at the art in the Winter in the Bay exhibit. She thought immediately that Margaret Jones Callahan’s “Winter Night in the Garden” could be a wonderful depiction for a storm at sea. To see Margaret’s description of her painting’s inspiration visit the Winter in the Bay online gallery and click on the image of the painting.