Thursday, July 2, 2015

Canada Day, Grand Manan, and the Greasy Pole

Some traditions should never be broken.  That's how we feel about spending Canada Day over on Grand Manan.  For Kent Islanders, the holiday falls squarely in the middle of our season, when island fever is setting in and we all just need a break from our work.  Plus heading over to Grand Manan allows us to take part in all the celebrations you find in a small town (one surrounded by the Bay of Fundy at that!).

Anticipation built all week here on the island, with students anxiously watching the weather and asking about departure times, schedules, and where to get the best ice cream.  So it was a relief when the day finally arrived, and at the crack of dawn, our caretaker, Russ Ingalls, came to get us aboard Island Bound.  Not surprisingly, it was a gray, foggy day, and the boat dripped with condensation as we headed over to the big island.

Heading over to Grand Manan in the foggy light of dawn.

Can you tell who the real Canadian is?
Once we arrived on Grand Manan, we had to get ready for the festivities.  Red face paint from the dollar store is always a good choice!

We tried to disguise ourselves (pictured here is a Frenchwoman and an American)!

But there wasn't much time to dawdle; the main event was before lunch:  the greasy pole competition.  The greasy pole is just about the funniest sport I can imagine.  It's held in the village of Seal Cove, and can only happen at high tide, as the creek is dry at low tide.  A long, tapered pole is suspended out over the water, and a barrel is pushed over it.  The pole is "greased" with dish detergent.  Competitors launch themselves off the wharf on the barrel, trying to ride it all the way to the end and grab the tiny Canadian flag at the end.  If you don't get the flag, you fall into the (bracingly cold) water; if you do get the flag, you also fall into the (bracingly cold) water -- but you win $5. 

Three generations of the Ingalls family set up the pole.
Soaping up the pole.
And adding the tiny flag to the end.
The greasy pole always draws a crowd.  Young and old try to get their hands on that flag; and young and old also like to watch as the competitors are dumped into the frigid water. 

The crowd starting to arrive.

A brave competitor!

He looks determined!

Our student Katie; a fierce young lady.

She came close to getting it!

There was a lot of this going on!
Some people needed a little help.
That flag looks pretty far away from this perspective!
Of course, it wasn't all fun and games.  After the Greasy Pole, our students got down to the real business of the day.  They ate ice cream (twice), hiked, had lunch at a greasy spoon (not the same as the Greasy Pole), took in a baseball game, and had a grand time all around. 

Eating breakfast; a bagel and ice cream.
Dulsing dories on the beach at the Whistle lighthouse.

It was a long day.  Luckily, one of our students had baked a cake the night before, and when we got back, everyone tucked right into it.  We were tired, but well fed.  And we'd had a great break from the every day grind here on the island.  With only three weeks until the end of the season, we're refreshed and ready for whatever the Bay of Fundy throws at us (good thing, because the fog has come back with a vengeance here on our island!)

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