After living in their $80 tent for 100 days, Monsune, Aurora, Liightning and Ecliipse ElNino moved into their tiny house on Hicks Road in White Point.
The ElNinos moved to Queens County April 22, 2018. Now, more than a year later, Monsune and Aurora are about to open a café. The Natural Grind is at 325 Main St. in Liverpool across from Frenchy’s and A-1 Pizza, and officially opened its doors June 1 at 5:30 a.m.
The story of how the ElNinos ended up in Liverpool is a long one. Monsune grew up in the Dartmouth neighbourhood of Woodside, and Aurora grew up in Omemee, a community in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario.
For about eight years, Aurora’s family had been spending summers at their little cottage in Noel, in Hants County.
“I moved here for college, and then my family followed along,” explained Aurora.
And that’s how Aurora and Monsune met in 2014. Aurora was attending the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Akerley campus in Dartmouth, taking Baking and Pastry Art, and Monsune was working at the YMCA.
After the two met, they moved to Grand Desert, a community near Lawrencetown Beach. There, Aurora worked as a baker at the Rose & Rooster Café.
The two then decided they wanted to have children. Monsune says they wanted to live in a community like Grand Desert.
“But we also wanted to completely start anew,” he said.
When trying to decide where to settle, Monsune says he and Aurora narrowed the decision to three communities – River John, Mahone Bay and Liverpool. He says the property they found in Queens County, near White Point, spoke to them.
Shortly after the ElNinos set up camp on their new property, another family stopped by. That family had an uncle who was ill and dying. The man’s name was Bunga, or Danny Hanson. Hanson was planning to give away his camper trailer to a relative.
“When he heard that we were living in a tent out in the woods, he insisted on giving it to us,” Aurora and Monsune said in unison.
That was just one of the many kind gestures that has taken place since the ElNinos have settled in Queens County.
“A churchgoer stopped by and said a prayer for our family,” said Monsune.
The day they got the trailer, Aurora says she and Monsune were talking and that’s when it was clear they wanted to build a tiny house. Laws surrounding tiny houses in Nova Scotia make it illegal for the ElNinos to live in their house all year.
“One season needs to be somewhere else,” explained Monsune.
But as winter approached, Monsune and Aurora hadn’t completed their roof enough to install a wood stove.
“So we were going to be fighting temperatures, and what we didn’t take into account was how much moisture comes out of four people’s mouths in a tiny space, and moisture really started to become a problem,” Monsune said.
This problem meant Monsune and Aurora had to make a tough decision - either find a place to live in Liverpool or move back to Halifax. That’s what prompted them to rent the space on Liverpool’s Main Street.
Building a business
Monsune and Aurora say the idea of opening a café came about years ago. Aurora says they’ve had the idea for a while of wanting to live in the space they work so they can be together all the time.
The two have been getting their café ready for about a month and a half. And this is where Aurora and Monsune met another kind gesture. The building’s owner, Alan Surovell, has been charging them a nominal amount as they’ve begun to set up their café, and he’ll continue to charge that same amount for three months while the couple builds working capital.
The name of the café was something Aurora and Monsune thought about for a while. Monsune says The Natural Grind has more than one meaning. One of the ways the name fits is Aurora’s parents are woodworkers and built the tables, counter and bar.
“All of this wood is from everywhere in Nova Scotia. They take down properties, so some of this is from Bear River, Lunenburg (and) Chester,” explained Monsune.
As for the 5:30 a.m. opening time, Monsune hopes he and Aurora will maybe see those heading to the gym for 6 a.m. or people heading to work for early shifts. The café will close at 10 p.m.
Aurora and Monsune expected to see a lot of their supporters on opening day. Monsune says four or five of his Dartmouth friends planned to attend, and Aurora’s parents and little brother were also planning to attend.
“It’s going to be a family event, for sure,” said Monsune.
Go online: For more information about The Natural Grind, visit https://www.facebook.com/the1natural1grind/.