First, Joanne Jones had to climb over a snowbank.
Then, the woman who will only admit to qualifying as a senior citizen, dug out the door of her Goldboro home.
Then to get the heat on.
After her husband of 48 years died, Jones spent two years on the road and, of all times to chose to return, she came home in February.
The electrical baseboards didn’t work because her husband had removed the fuse before his death. The woodshed was snowed in and the regulator on the propane tank was frozen shut.
“I was walking across the yard with a microwaved beanbag to thaw the regulator and I was screaming ‘how could you leave me like this’,” remembered Jones on Thursday.
But even winter ends and by the time spring came to this rural Guysborough community of about 30 souls, Jones had a new plan.
In May, she opened the doors on her Little House of Compassion — a wellness centre that specializes in cannabis-based products.
It’s based out of the small building in front of her home that was once Goldboro’s post office, then a coffee shop and then a realtor’s office.
It’s not a medical marijuana dispensary.
The membership-based club does offer consulting to assist its subscribers doing the paperwork to get medical marijuana licences, but its main business is nonpsychoactivecannabinoid health products.
Basically, they won’t get you high but they contain the elements sought by many of the followers of naturopathic medicine — and they’re made by her son’s (Brynn Jones) company, Brinco Group, in British Columbia.
With the nearest store 15 kilometres away in Stormont, it’s the only place to buy anything in a retail sense between Isaac’s Harbour and Seal Harbour.
Jones and her husband, Barry, made a life out of refusing to be ordinary.
Born in Aylesford, Jones’s first professional job was as a social worker in Uranium City in northern Saskatchewan. Her husband’s work as a geologist took them all over — to Alaska and Yellowknife and California.
They spent time in Asia and she founded an English as a second language school on Jeju, an island between South Korea and Japan.
Finding themselves ready to retire and living in California five years ago, they bought a house in Goldboro of all places without knowing a soul there.
“It wasn’t really,” said Jones when asked if it was intimidating.
“We’d been moving our whole lives.”
Then cancer found Barry.
“It was hard, hard times,” said Jones.
“I saw the suffering and the side effects of the medication and that has been one of the inspirations for this business.”
The business has been slow starting — there just aren’t many people in the area she serves — but it has brought people into her life. In turn, she’s got to see into their lives and become woven tighter into the fabric of the community that has become her new home.
In February as she fought to get the house warm she wondered why she came back to Goldboro.
“Now I’m glad I did,” she said on Thursday.