My eldest son Aaron Nutting married Julie Lawrence in Halifax, Nova Scotia exactly one week ago.  The happy event was celebrated with friends and family who gathered for four days of intense partying, marked by plenty of socializing, dancing, good food and fine wine.  Even Hurricane Earl's direct hit on the Maritimes did not dampen the hospitality and high spirits of the wedding entourage.  
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Family feast
The rehearsal party was held at the Lawrence family cottage overlooking the Atlantic ocean, with food prepared by Nicholas Nutting, brother of the groom and chef from the Wickaninnish Inn.  Nick  brought seven sockeye salmon in his luggage,  flying the catch fresh from West coast waters to a sizzling hot East coast grill.  He and his skilled assistants Rhonda Rusk and George Wrobel shopped for ingredients at specialty markets and spent a whole day in the kitchen preparing huge platters of zucchini and eggplant,  tomato and basil salad, fresh corn and green beans, barbecued pork tenderloin, watermelon and a blueberry custard dessert.  The menu was a testament to the quality of seasonal produce, lovingly prepared with an East meets West fusion theme. 

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Sockeye Salmon
The extraordinary B.C. sockeye salmon run  this year is a scientific mystery that clearly demonstrates how little is known about fishing in Canada.  A record amount of salmon, topping 30 million,  returned to the Fraser River this year after a 3 year moratorium on commercial harvesting. Last year,  in comparison, yielded only 1.5 million.    Was it the cooler water temperatures, or the reduction in sea lice that breed in fish farms that facilitated this windfall?   No one is sure, but Canadian chefs are now confident about reintroducing this variety to their menus, and serving it up in style.  

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Bride and Groom
The bride and groom were married at Pier 21, the historic entry point for groups of immigrants arriving by boat to Canada.  For many newcomers, this port marked the end of a long voyage and the beginning of a new life in a foreign land.    Safe passage across the Atlantic to Halifax harbour was a transition leading to a host of challenges,  opportunities and rewards that may never have been part of their experience had they decided to stay home.     On September 5th, I watched my son Aaron standing at the front of the hall, waiting out the few moments before his bride appeared.  There was  a tangible sense of anticipation in the air, and Aaron displayed a quiet confidence fostered by the certainty of true love, pride and great expectations.   He was about to step off the boat, take the plunge and begin a new stage in his life.  When the radiant and beautiful Julie glided toward him down the aisle, tears welled up in his eyes (and his mother's.)  The assembled guests and extended family witnessed Aaron's poignant emotional passage to the grown-up, demanding, fulfilling role of "husband."

Like the salmon run, love remains a mystery, and no one knows why some marriages blossom for a lifetime and others wither and die.   I pray that this young couple will be blessed with many years of steadfast devotion, caring and meaningful experiences.   They have so much promise;  so much to offer one another.  

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Quail's Gate, a Canadian Pinot Noir
We toasted the bride and groom with Quail's Gate Pinot Noir 2007 from B.C.   This wine has enough gusto to complement the strong flavours of the West Coast salmon. It has a rich ruby red colour, aroma of cherries, chocolate and crushed flowers, a spicy palate followed by tart fruit and cedar notes.   The estate winery in the Okanagan Valley is owned and operated by the Stewart family, whose ancestors arrived in Canada and settled in B. C. in the year 1908.  A bottle of  Quail's Gate Pinot Noir costs $24.99 (Canadian dollars).

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Sails in the harbour, Halifax, Nova Scotia
 
 
Dear Victoria:
You're just three days old now, still fresh and new, and already your photo has appeared on Facebook.  What a thrill to see your round, pink, perfect face for the first time!   Although I live far away from where you are, I  look at your picture and feel the miracle of you taking centre stage in my thoughts, my dreams and my heart.
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Victoria Elizabeth Maminski
Hold on tight, Victoria, for this is going to be an exciting ride.  You have entered a world where your opportunities are unlimited, your future is bright and you can achieve any of the goals that you aspire to.  Growing up in Canada, you'll benefit from a fine education system, excellent health care, a safe environment, good nutrition, and a stable government that protects individual rights and freedoms.   Your parents will make sure that all of your material needs are met.  Even before you arrived they prepared the nursery, filling your room with furniture, clothes, toys and books.  There's a mobile hanging over your crib that's designed to stimulate and delight your infant brain when you're awake and a wind-up music box that plays soothing songs to calm you down when it's sleepy time.   You won't lack for anything and you'll never have a dull moment.

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Parents, Jasen and Emily
Your parents are intent on nurturing your self-esteem and meeting your emotional needs. You are blessed, above all, with caring family members who are eager to love and cherish you, cradle and rock you, sing and read to you, play with you, teach you new skills, answer your questions and shower you with their undivided attention. Victoria Elizabeth  is such a confident, regal name that I have no doubt you'll grow up with the poise, good manners and grace of a queen.   

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Finca kids
How wonderfully privileged you are!  Every day in Argentina I see children who are not so fortunate.   When you come to visit your Grandma on the finca, you'll soon discover that the conditions you have enjoyed in childhood are not equally available for all youngsters.   The truth is, Victoria, that things aren't always fair in this world.   Your happy, secure status as a Canadian born into prosperity comes with an obligation.  My hope is that you will become mindful of the needs of others, and dedicate some time and effort to giving back.  In English these are  important verbs to add to your vocabulary: to volunteer, to donate, to support, to contribute, to participate.  You and your generation will possess the know-how, resources and stamina to find solutions to many of the world's serious problems.   As Henry David Thoreau said, " Each child begins the world again."  

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I celebrated your birth by baking a spice cake called kimbly, a Welsh tradition for honouring the  new baby and ensuring good luck for the future.  The recipe for this cake came from a Canadian novel "The Birth House" written by Ami McKay.  It's a terrific tale about birthing practices in rural Nova Scotia at a time when midwifery was competing with modern medicine. 

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It is customary to drink an ale with birthing cake.  Your step-grandfather Robert chose Quilmes Stout, a nice dark winter beer that's full of yeast and molasses flavours.   We made a toast to your arrival with wishes for health, happiness,  and sound wisdom.  And here's a song that just might become your favourite lullabye.   


With all my love, 
Grandmother Elizabeth Jane