The Cactus Patch
Volume 11       June 2008      Number 6

The Evangeline Trail
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

April began routinely. Then on the 17th we had a birthday lunch for me at Red Lobster. (My actual birthday is the 18th.) On the 19th we drove to Fresno with Anne and arrived at 9 a.m. for the Fresno Cactus garden tour. We started at Larry Homans’ on the west side. Among his many plants I especially liked his blooming Madagascan Pachypodium. Refreshments were served in the pottery house where we were treated to the sight of ceramic cacti in various states of completion.

Next we moved east to the Deutsch Cactus Garden where various forms of Beaver Tail were in full bloom. These included the Bakersfield cactus (which now has a crested pad) and the cylindrical form from San Bernardino. I had donated these back in 1982. A hummingbird was feeding on flowers of a tall Cleistocactus.

This was followed by a long drive into the foothills at Coarsegold. The hills were covered with popcorn, fiddle necks, poppies, Brodiaea etc. Our first stop was Bill Tyson’s Iris Garden. Many varieties were blooming. Anne just had to order a small plant known as “Little Orchid Annie”. I was fascinated by a blooming Ferraria crispa, an Iris relative from South Africa. This is said to have edible tubers and F. glutinosa of Botswana is said to be hallucinogenic. Bill insisted that the botanist and car-maker Ferraris were brothers, but the former (Giovannia Battista) died in 1655 and the car maker (Enrico) produced his first Ferrari in 1948!)

Our final stop, also in Coarsegold, was at Fred Gaumer’s where we had a late BBQ lunch. When we got back to Fresno, Polly’s sisters served lemon pie for my birthday.

On the 21st I received issue 100 of the journal Asklepios (dedicated to the milkweeds of the subfamily Asclepiadoidae of the Apocynaceae. I wish I had contributed an article for this, but I was busy traveling when it would have had to be sent last year. It is amazing that this journal has continued this long. I am proud to say this was the first journal to actually ask me for an article (back in the 90’s.)

On the 25th we saw Carol Channing at CSUB. She is showing her age, but is still strong for all that. This was part of her campaign to get the arts back into our education system.

On the 27th we had lunch at the Basque Café for my mother’s 91st birthday (actually on the 29th .) An Echinus’s (which I had been given by Karol Ward of the Botswana caving trip) opened up four beautiful flowers on the 29th. It is a beautiful salmon pink.

We were saddened to learn that Bobby Williams died on the 30th. We will miss her.

Returning to last year:
On the 26th of July we took the Cat (a large and fast Catamaran) from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. On the three hour crossing Polly saw some dolphin leaping. At Yarmouth Harbor we passed a lighthouse which is known as the “Apple Core” due to its odd shape. Canadian entry was easy and we lugged our cases uphill to the Midtown Motel. Across the road were a couple of old but restored houses, one of which had plants in a glassed-in cupola over the front door. Back in town we ate at Jake’s and started a scallop marathon that lasted our whole time in Nova Scotia (the scallop capitol of the world).

Next day Andrena Teed (former teacher and colleague of Polly in Botswana) picked us up and drove us to her home in Smith’s Cove. We were following what is known as the Evangeline Trail after the heroine of Longfellow’s epic poem. Although Evangeline is fiction, it is based on the very real expulsion of the French when the British conquered Acadia (now Nova Scotia). Many of these French went to Louisiana where they are known as Cajuns. The French have reestablished themselves in Nova Scotia and we visited a large stone church at St. Bernard’s and the world’s largest wooden church at Church Point. We had lunch at the Roadside Grill which specializes in Acadian dishes. I tried poutine. (French fries with gravy - which we found throughout Canada, even at KFC) and clam rapure, a slimy soup which I do not recommend. We also stopped at a huge junk store, stopped briefly at the town of Digby and finally settledinto the house at Smith’s Cove. There is a beautiful view of the gap into the Bay of Fundy and we watched the tide and ferry go in and out daily.

On the 27th we went back into Digby, which has a good used bookstore. The proprietress had some of the “Lady Detective” series from Botswana, but thought they lacked the blood and guts of a real mystery. I assured her that Botswana really was as peaceful as depicted. We also saw carrots for sale which had been imported from Kern County. To balance this, Andrena had us try the local Dulse, a red algae which is rich in vitamins. It is found as “Nova Scotia Dulce” as an ingredient in health drinks of Odwalla and Bolthouse Farms. These are available in Bakersfield. It is said to be low in sodium, but the dulse Andrena gave us was too salty to eat! Nigel Rollo, Andrena’s husband, came back on the ferry from his surveying in New Brunswick and we walked his dog down to the beach when the tide was out. I collected seashells and a piece of a gigantic lobster claw. On the way back I noticed orpine which was redder than I had seen before as well as beautiful jewelweeds (Impatiens).

Next month we’ll take a couple of excursions out of Smith’s Cove and then the following month I’ll write about a wedding.

Stapelia in Tshabong by Bruce J. Hargreaves

Polly & Andrena in wooden church

the Applecore


View from Smith's Cove

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