Belonging to a Facebook group with thousands of members, two women – one from Malignant Cove, Antigonish County, and one from the other-side of the continent in Placerville, California – discovered they had so much in common, getting together in person seemed natural … an inevitability.
And, with Antigonish Highland Games’ week activities as a backdrop, that’s just what local woman Lynn O’Donnell and Mary Bourn, from the Golden State, did.
Sitting down with the Casket during the Antigonish Art Fair, July 12, O’Donnell noted it all started with the Facebook page Nobel Pig Cooking Community.
“And there was one person whose posts l kept noticing; it wasn’t just the quality of her food it was the way she presented it … so beautifully,” O’Donnell said.
“And behind her food was her house and I was, kind of, creeping it a little, because she has a beautiful dog, and [the house] reminded me of a Maritime house; beautiful wood, flowers. I was like, I would really like to get to know this person, she has a good vibe. So we decided to become Facebook friends, not just through the cooking group.”
O’Donnell said they started talking right away on an almost daily basis.
“It was really organic; we developed, naturally, this friendship,” she said, noting the next thing to do – “as a Maritimer” – was to invite her for a visit.
“What a great adventure,” Bourn said, beaming while summarizing her time already spent in the province; as bagpipe music and Highland dancing went on a few feet away at the fair.
“It is my first visit to Nova Scotia. I’ve traveled all over the world; this little place would have never been a blip on my radar, if it hadn’t been for Lynn.
“And, as our relationship and friendship grew over the last nine months, I learned, explored and saw all the things that were coming my way when I decided to come and do this. I said to myself; it’s a no-brainer, I’m there. It was just meant to be – one of those things,” she added, an indication she was having a fabulous time.
Bourn talked about timing the visit to coincide with the Games, noting that “peaked” her interest when researching Antigonish.
“Lynn told me when it was and I figured out my time,” she said. “I came together with my sisters – we do a sisters’ trip – figured out our calendars, and I said ‘OK, here is our block’ and they were all good to go. So then we’re here and that is when the adventure began.”
Asked about some of her favourite moments of the trip at that point, the cook and food lover came out as she talked about enjoying as authentic a Nova Scotia lobster meal as one could expect.
“Lynn told me they go down to their lobster fisherman’s boat, he leaves them in the crate and they pull them up over the side and bring them home. I said ‘get out of here – that’s the e-ticket,’” she said, referencing and showing an appreciation for the directness.
“For months, just the anticipation. We come from the farm-to-fork capital being from near Sacramento; now we were going to go ocean-to-fork.”
Bourn was also pleased with the opportunity to meet lobster fisher Duncan MacInnis and his wife, who demonstrated the proper technique when it comes to canning lobster.
“To meet him and his wife and enjoy their beautiful piece of property … ‘oh my gosh, this is incredible,’” I said.
As noted, when Mary returns home it will be to a community near the capital of California, Sacramento. She shared an interesting and infamous tidbit about her town Placerville.
“Formerly called Hangtown; it’s the town where, when they would bring their gold in from a gold discovery, if you were caught stealing someone’s gold, up you went in the hanging tree,” Bourn said. “Three hours from San Francisco, about an hour from Sacramento, in the Sierra Foothills … it’s very beautiful.”
Getting back to their fast-friendship, O’Donnell noted this is one social media story for the positive ledger.
“Obviously, there is a lot of negative stuff online and even with the good, you can get sucked in and waste time on it,” she said.
“But, with us, we check in with each other in the morning and then, sometimes, in the evening; just to say ‘how are you doing?’ It’s like having a pen pal, but it’s instant, quick.
“This was a unique opportunity to make a friend. It’s like when you meet people and there may be 10 there at the time but there is one you really kind of gel with; that’s what it was like for us.
“Lost sisters … honestly,” O’Donnell said.