My 6-Week Slim-Down main goal: I lost 30 pounds three years ago - and then I had a baby! Most of the baby weight came off but -- two years later -- I am still finding that last 5 pounds hard to take off. So, my goal is to get a good start on losing that by paying close attention to what I'm eating.
Challenges: I tend to reach for junk food instead of choosing healthy snacks. I tend to eat under stress, particularly at work or at the end of the day when my willpower and patience have been used up by kids and job and commuting and everything else. I also have a bad habit of not eating until I'm really hungry. And sometimes, mornings at my house are crazy and I walk out glad my shirt is on the right side out (I just had to go check), never mind with a lunch box full of healthy choices. You know the result: At 3:30 I find myself breaking open a bag of chips.
Successes: I committed to planning my lunches and
healthy snacks for the six weeks. I also looked for snacks that are healthy versions of things I naturally reach for. Here are the three things that are working for me so far:
Healthy snacks standing in for the ones I buy on impulse: I've found that seaweed roasted in sesame oil with salt (I found individual packs at Costco) is a great substitute for chips. I've got a few in my drawer at work and a few packs in the trunk of my car. And the seaweed may be helping me live longer!
Plan healthy snacks right through the end of the day: That nighttime period is still the biggest danger zone for me, so rather than leaving what I'll eat to my own whim, I actually plan the snack I'm going to have as I hang out on Facebook. Tonight it's Greek yoghurt!
If you want to share your healthy snack ideas, particularly for families on the go, I would love to hear them!
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.
Rice vermicelli is a type of rice noodle used in many Asian dishes. It is packaged dry, can be found in most regular grocery stores and can be eaten either hot or cold in soups, salads and stir fried with vegetables, meat and spices. Rice vermicelli is often referred to as rice stick vermicelli and comes in different sizes.
Here's what you need to do: 1)
Place your noodles in a large heatproof bowl.* 2)
Pour boiling water over top of noodles to cover completely. I like to use a kettle instead of my stove. 3)
Let noodles stand according to package directions. For noodles that are 3 mm wide (pictured below), it takes about 6 minutes. 4)
Drain and rinse with cold water, drain again. This stops the cooking process and prevents the noodles from sticking together. If you are preparing these noodles in advance and find that they are sticking together, just rinse under some additional cold water.
*I like to use a kettle, but if you prefer to use your stove top, here's what you need to do for steps 1 & 2: In large pot, bring water to boil. Remove from heat; add noodles and let sit according to package directions.
Here are some of our favourite recipes featuring rice vermicelli:
Vietnamese Vermicelli with Grilled BeefVegetarian Salad RollsHanoi-Style Vermicelli Noodles with FishRice Vermicelli Salad
Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli are behind many food recalls in Canada. Here's what to do if you've eaten contaminated food, what symptoms to expect and how to protect yourself in the future.
Food contamination alerts seem to be happening more frequently than ever—recalls from Listeria in chocolate milk, Salmonella in tea and E. coli in pork products have all been in the headlines. But how dangerous are these contaminated foods? And what should you do if you've already eaten them? We asked Jeffrey Farber, director of the Canadian Research Institute in Food Safety and professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, to answer our biggest questions about the fallout from eating foods containing some of the most common contaminants: Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella.
What should you do if you think you've had contaminated food?
Farber says to start by double-bagging and throwing it out, or returning it to wherever you brought it. If you're in a high-risk group (i.e., you're young, elderly, immunocompromised or pregnant) and you're experiencing symptoms, call your doctor right away. For everyone else, Farber says recovery is all about replacing lost fluids, keeping yourself nourished and tending to any aches and pains that develop when you're sick. The illness will typically go away on its own. If you are experiencing more serious symptoms (think: blood in the stool, neurological symptoms or a high fever that lasts a few days) or symptoms that persist for a prolonged time (think: diarrhea that lasts more than three to five days), go see your doctor. In most cases involving E. coli and Salmonella, your doctor won't prescribe any antibiotics, but if you've developed listeriosis from contact with Listeria, you'll likely be prescribed antibiotics.
What are the symptoms?
If you come into contact with Salmonella, you may develop salmonellosis, which mainly affects your gut, says Farber. "Symptoms include the sudden onset or diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting." These symptoms will usually appear within one to three days.
"For E. coli, the symptoms can vary from person to person," Farber explains. However,
some of the most common side effects are severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a low fever (usually less than 38.5ËšC/101ËšF). The incubation period for E. coli is one to 10 days, but most people see symptoms within three to four days. One strain of E. coli (known as E. coli O157:H7) can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in about five to 10 percent of patients. The symptoms of HUS vary—some people experience seizures or strokes, while some need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis—and though it's rare, it can be fatal.
Listeriosis, which results from ingesting the Listeria bacteria, can involve vomiting, nausea, cramps, muscle aches, diarrhea, severe headaches and persistent fevers, all of which should appear one to three days after eating a contaminated food. "In the serious cases, when the infection spreads to the central nervous system, symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion and loss of balance," says Farber. This more serious form can take longer—usually about 21 days—to appear, and it could be followed by serious side-effects like meningoencephalitis (an infection of the brain and its surrounding tissues), which occurs in about 20 percent of patients with severe listeriosis.
How dangerous are these contaminated foods?
Most people will just have a few unpleasant days of illness, but a small percentage of those who eat contaminated foods will experience serious and potentially life-threatening issues that go far beyond tummy troubles, so it's important to heed any warnings and recalls.
Are there any ways to protect yourself from food-borne illness?
Yes! Lots, according to Farber. To begin with, wash your hands before and after handling different foods and clean your tools and countertop to avoid any cross-contamination. Wash fruits and veggies under running water to rinse bacteria away. (Don't submerge them in water, because your sink is likely teaming with bacteria.) "Cooking food to proper temperatures is very important because the heat will kill most bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli," says Farber. He suggests using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature to be sure. And after it's cooked? Refrigerate food at 4°C/39°F as soon as possible—you don't need to let it cool first. "Proper refrigeration keeps most types of bacteria from growing to numbers that can cause illness."
What foods are the worst offenders for harbouring these bacteria?
Farber says it's tough to label the worst offenders because there are so many different foods that have caused outbreaks, but he named a few. "For Listeria, foods most often involved in outbreaks have historically been soft and semi-soft cheeses and ready-to-eat meats. However, lately, fruits and vegetables have been causing illnesses," he says. When it comes to Salmonella, he says chicken, turkey, eggs, sprouts, cantaloupe, tree nuts and peanut butter have all been contaminated. "For E. coli O157, although it was historically only linked to ground beef, we now know that many other foods, such as produce and flour, can be implicated in food-borne outbreaks."
"The little fairies I saw were about, I would say, the size of two-year-olds, that height," says 97-year-old Mary Flynn of Otterbury, N.L. "When I came down the way, I saw a red bandana and it blew across the road. When I looked to see where it went, I saw two little fairies by a tree with bright red windbreakers and little peaked caps."
Whether they're fairy stories, tales of the early settlements or other otherworldly yarns, Newfoundland's long-standing oral traditions have always been a powerful force. But it's the fairy stories, in particular, that are rife on the Rock. Full of wonder and magic yet anchored by the
real world experiences of Newfoundlanders, fairy folklore is as culturally important to the province as any historical building or artifact.
Not your everyday fairy The province's rich fairy folklore traditions originate from the Scottish, Irish and English who brought over their stories when they settled on Newfoundland in the 1600s. These fairies (also known as the Good People or the Little People) are not of the Tinker Bell variety; the creatures come in all sizes and have been glimpsed in the shape of children, adults, glowing lights and even animals. They're mischievous and apt to entrance you, cause trouble and lead you astray. And they definitely
don't have wings.
That most of Newfoundland's fairies are described as troublemakers is somewhat surprising. "The majority of fairies are not good fairies," says Barbara Rieti, who did a PhD thesis in folklore, on the subject of fairies, at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, N.L., and later authored the book
Strange Terrain: The Fairy World in Newfoundland (ISER Books, Memorial University, 1991). "They play tricks and lead you over the edge or a cliff. They'll change people. Or you'll get a fairy blast when they hit you, and then nasty stuff comes out of the wound, like sticks, balls of wool and fish bones."
Wounds dripping with balls of wool and fish bones (and the obvious entertainment factor in these tales) aside, fairy stories often held deeper meaning. "To me, fairy stories had to do with knowing and not knowing, a very important element in Newfoundland culture," says Rieti. "Because communities were small and isolated but interconnected, knowing someone, knowing who they are and where they come from was important." Fairy stories weren't just about fairies; they were about living through challenges and surviving, be it in the woods, on the water or down the trail.
Nature versus civilization "Fairies aren't so much to be feared as they are to be respected and, where possible, avoided," says Dale Jarvis, intangible cultural heritage development officer for the
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. Like Rieti, he believes fairy folklore is deeply connected to the natural world. "In a sense, fairies are nature personified," says Jarvis. "They're neither good nor bad; they don't follow human rules. Fairy stories are, in a way, how we talk about our interaction with the unpredictability of nature."
In many cases, the stories are about regular Newfoundlanders who have incredible things happen to them.
Someone picking berries will hear fairy music, become entranced and lose their way in the woods; days later they will return home, not knowing what happened. If feeling mischievous, fairies might swap a baby for a changeling, a sickly being not entirely human. Fairies may join children for tea on the beach, spirit a loved one away on a horse or place a curse, making a family member mute. Fairies could even take people away and drown them in the sea. Much of the province's fairy folklore exists at the point where the civilized world and nature intersect. "The stories take place at the end of the garden, where people go to pick berries, in the meadow, at the beach, or slightly away from the house-in the border zone between the wild and the tame," says Jarvis.
Charms for protection With potential fairy-wrought disaster always near, there are many traditional charms Newfoundlanders use for protection. Keeping bread in your pockets can ward off the fairies. Or, if you are in danger of being led astray, you can turn an article of clothing inside out, putting you back on the right path (it confuses the fairies and breaks their spell). Money is also a charm. Some locals pin silver coins to their clothing or place coins inside baby carriages. Religious metals have the same effect. "The tricky part," says Jarvis, "is that, for every story you hear and every rule about the fairies, there's another story that says the opposite." It seems that, above all else, Newfoundland fairies are capricious.
In days past, fairy stories may have been used keep children from wandering too far into the woods or into a forbidden area
—an imaginative safety mechanism, if you will. A parent might say, "Don't go too far because the fairies might get you." Other times, fairy stories may have been used to cover or deny a violent incident, such as a beating or a physical or mental illness. It would be common to hear that a community member was "away with the fairies" or "touched by the fairies." Whether to entertain, teach, keep children safe or manage a difficult circumstance, fairy talk has always mingled with Newfoundland's more tangible cultural traditions.
Fairy central Fairy folklore is particularly strong in the Conception Bay area of the
Avalon Peninsula. In Cupids, the first English settlement in Canada, fairy stories have had centuries to take root.
Cupids Legacy Centre, a museum that includes an archaeology field lab and fairy garden, is committed to keeping fairy folklore alive and thriving in the community. "Newfoundland isn't just about historical artifacts," says Peter Laracy, the centre's general manager. "We're also about music, dance, poetry, language and stories. It's the intangible traditions that reflect who we are and what we are."
Laracy firmly believes that the beginnings of Newfoundland culture are based in oral storytelling, which he considers to be the most fundamental form of communication. It's a different level of connection; there's trust between the storyteller and the audience, one in which those listening suspend their normal concept of the world and just believe. He finds that today's Newfoundlanders are still drawn to the otherworldly and inexplicable. "I think people want to let go of the fact that everything has to be explainable," says Laracy. "Listening to and telling fairy stories frees the mind and allows you to believe that anything is possible
—there's a freedom of human expression."
The captivating quality of fairy stories lives most fully in the actual telling. Laracy says a good fairy story and storyteller can evoke emotions such as fear, wonder, awe, sadness and joy. Every year, Cupids Legacy Centre hosts an evening that celebrates fairy culture.
On the rooftop garden, which is decorated with fairy sculptures, the crowd is entertained by a fairy play. Then, the community's renowned storytellers (Mary Flynn being one who has seen fairies on several occasions) tell dramatic fairy stories in a room full of community members and fairy enthusiasts who hang on every word.
The Fairy Ring in Conception Bay North. Photo by Dennis Flynn
Many of the stories recount fairy sightings, strange happenings or talk of fairy paths and fairy ground (the places Newfoundlanders avoid for fear of disturbing the fairies). In the Conception Bay North area, there's an ancient fairy ring, a circle of 13 massive beech trees surrounding barren ground, where fairies have their meetings, of course. Legend has it that nothing will grow on fairy ground. It's a quiet, spooky place, ripe for otherworldly gatherings.
A future for fairies Like the beech trees anchored on fairy ground, fairy folklore has been around for a while, centuries even. Folklorists are often asked if the stories and traditions will eventually die out. Dale Jarvis is adamant in his response. "No, I think we're seeing a revival in fairy stories. People may not believe in them the same way they once did, but there's a growing understanding here in Newfoundland that this is a part of our culture, part of our traditions." Barbara Rieti is of the same mind. "What has surprised me over time is how persistent fairy stories have been. People will say that the tradition is receding, but fairy stories never really recede."
Through fairy stories, Newfoundlanders connect to their history, to each other and to nature. They all have a fairy story to tell
—and it's one likely passed on from generation to generation. The stories themselves are full of delightful drama, adding a distinct cultural flavour that isn't found anywhere else in Canada. And even though the fairies might be, frankly, terrifying, every local enjoys connecting with an audience (of one or 100, it makes no difference) to share a tale. "What I love about fairy stories," says Jarvis, "is that a real person has had this magical experience. These stories are about survival, change, hope and resiliency. And who doesn't want to believe in magic?"