YARMOUTH COUNTY - July 2015 was a month of discovery and adventures for author Sandra Phinney. She embarked on a 31-day odyssey to see what she could see within a 100-kilometre radius of her home by the Tusket River.
The idea germinated after she read travel writer Melanie Chambers’ blog posting about “exploring her own hood.”
Phinney became inspired to do the same as her friend, but from southwestern Nova Scotia instead of Toronto.
The two conspired how The July Project (TJP) would evolve and Chambers visited Phinney for three days in May so they could map out the program. They kept in touch throughout the project, comparing each other’s experiences.
How did Phinney choose which places to go?
“Some of it was planned and some was happenstance,” she said.
Experiences included the annual strawberry festival at the Lake Vaughn fire hall, a stop in a yard full of trucks from as early as 1903, the C.R.K. Allen Nature Reserve in Quinan, McNutt’s Island, exploring with a rock hound at Lake Midway Provincial Park, Hug Your Nanny Goat Farm, the popular swimming hole La Montagne, a tour of Yarmouth Mountain Cemetery, the Stella Night Walk through Le Petit Bois, the first hospital in Yarmouth on Sycamore Street and much more.
Memories of past adventures in the region are also woven in.
At one point in the month Phinney focused on discoveries within a 10-km radius of their home. There was a tulip tree with beautiful wood for carving, a library museum, even an airfield.
“I could still be finding things,” she said.
There was also the night she spent in Yarmouth from midnight until 6 a.m. to see what was happening.
“What a crazy idea,” she laughed.
There were some things she never got around to doing, among them ringing the bells at Holy Trinity Church, going to a legion dance and volunteering in a soup kitchen.
She says part of her wishes there had been more time.
“But I had commitments,” she said.
“I just can’t believe how such a small community can generate so many interesting places.”
The project has left a lasting impact.
“We’ve been following our noses, more than we ever have before.”
Phinney is an award-winning journalist/photographer who lives on the Tusket River with her husband, Barrie MacGregor. This is her fourth book. She’s now working on a book about Maud Lewis, to coincide with Nova Scotia’s 2019 Heritage Day celebrating the artist.
Phinney’s stories have appeared in numerous print and online magazines. She also conducts memoir and travel writing workshops.
Where to buy
Also available from the author.
Locations for upcoming readings and slideshow of Phinney’s new book
Thursday, March 15: Clare, Le Trécarré (art gallery) at Rendezvous de la Baie, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 16: Yarmouth Library at noon.
Sunday,March 18: Shelburne Library, 2 p.m.
Thursday, March 22: Pubnico, le Musée, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 24: Yarmouth Co. Museum & Archives, 2 p.m.
April 6-8 Moncton (reading on the 6th and memoir workshop on the 7th at the Moncton Library )
Saturday May 12, book signing at Coles in Yarmouth from 1-3 p.m.
June 8/9 Fredericton (Reading at Westminster Books and travel/memoir workshop on the 9th at UNB)
Wednesday, June 13 Weymouth Library, 6:30 p.m.