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The top news from Meiklefield


I’ll admit it’s a slow news day. The period between Christmas and New Year’s is known by all in the media as the hardest time of the year.

That’s why you see so many lists about looking back at the top 10s of this or that.

A story in the Truro paper this week about runaway peacocks from the McClures Mills area reminded me of a top story that has yet to grace the pages of this paper. It is a story from the remote rural community of Meiklefield, Pictou County.

“It must be a pheasant,” I said, when first told this summer about a mysterious bird that had been spotted below my brother’s house in Meiklefield, where my family has lived since the first settlers arrived from Scotland. My brother and his wife had seen it first. A peacock, they claimed.

They told my grandmother, who in all of her 88 years, had never heard of such a thing being on the farm. She told me about their story with a hint of disbelief. Never in more than a century of diaries written by my grandfather or great-grandfather is there ever mention of a peacock on the farm. Peacocks are not a native species and not much good domesticated either.

The closest neighbour is about a mile away, but they didn’t have any peacocks either. My brother must have been mistaken, my grandmother and I agreed.

Because I live “in town,” throughout the summer I was updated about sightings of the peacock. A ring-necked pheasant was clearly being misidentified, I insisted.

But then one day, in September, I was driving up the dirt road to get some firewood, when I was stopped by my sister-in-law, who was out in the road taking pictures of some creature with her iPhone. As I drove up, it vanished into the woods.

She excitedly showed me the proof. There on the screen of her phone was, in fact, a peacock. A few weeks later I saw it in person myself.

More and more pictures started showing up on my family’s Facebook pages. My grandfather talked about it with the VON workers who came. My grandmother now believed. Where could it have come from, everyone wondered. Despite asking the few neighbours around, and sharing photos of the missing peacock through social media, the owner has not been found.

Over time, the peacock has moved from the woods below my brother’s house to my parents’ place a quarter mile up the road. Now that it’s colder, he’s taken up shelter in an unused old barn. My mother has named him Solomon, after the king famed for his wisdom. This bird must be wise, she says, to have survived in the wild.

He’s become so tame, he will eat grain out of her hand and he comes to tap on the patio window until my dad throws out a crust of bread or a Cheesie, which apparently to a peacock, is better than grain. Still, he refuses to be caught. He uses the barn and hay for shelter on his terms only.

There will be murders, politics and perhaps odd stories that make lists in top stories in papers across the country this week, but trust me when I say, this is the biggest news from Meiklefield. Also of note from the community, however, is the beautiful tree Tom Sim donated that stands in front of the Aberdeen Hospital this Christmas. Like the peacock, it’s been a bright spot.

That’s why you see so many lists about looking back at the top 10s of this or that.

A story in the Truro paper this week about runaway peacocks from the McClures Mills area reminded me of a top story that has yet to grace the pages of this paper. It is a story from the remote rural community of Meiklefield, Pictou County.

“It must be a pheasant,” I said, when first told this summer about a mysterious bird that had been spotted below my brother’s house in Meiklefield, where my family has lived since the first settlers arrived from Scotland. My brother and his wife had seen it first. A peacock, they claimed.

They told my grandmother, who in all of her 88 years, had never heard of such a thing being on the farm. She told me about their story with a hint of disbelief. Never in more than a century of diaries written by my grandfather or great-grandfather is there ever mention of a peacock on the farm. Peacocks are not a native species and not much good domesticated either.

The closest neighbour is about a mile away, but they didn’t have any peacocks either. My brother must have been mistaken, my grandmother and I agreed.

Because I live “in town,” throughout the summer I was updated about sightings of the peacock. A ring-necked pheasant was clearly being misidentified, I insisted.

But then one day, in September, I was driving up the dirt road to get some firewood, when I was stopped by my sister-in-law, who was out in the road taking pictures of some creature with her iPhone. As I drove up, it vanished into the woods.

She excitedly showed me the proof. There on the screen of her phone was, in fact, a peacock. A few weeks later I saw it in person myself.

More and more pictures started showing up on my family’s Facebook pages. My grandfather talked about it with the VON workers who came. My grandmother now believed. Where could it have come from, everyone wondered. Despite asking the few neighbours around, and sharing photos of the missing peacock through social media, the owner has not been found.

Over time, the peacock has moved from the woods below my brother’s house to my parents’ place a quarter mile up the road. Now that it’s colder, he’s taken up shelter in an unused old barn. My mother has named him Solomon, after the king famed for his wisdom. This bird must be wise, she says, to have survived in the wild.

He’s become so tame, he will eat grain out of her hand and he comes to tap on the patio window until my dad throws out a crust of bread or a Cheesie, which apparently to a peacock, is better than grain. Still, he refuses to be caught. He uses the barn and hay for shelter on his terms only.

There will be murders, politics and perhaps odd stories that make lists in top stories in papers across the country this week, but trust me when I say, this is the biggest news from Meiklefield. Also of note from the community, however, is the beautiful tree Tom Sim donated that stands in front of the Aberdeen Hospital this Christmas. Like the peacock, it’s been a bright spot.

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