Category Archives: appreciation

Early autumn walkabout

Have you noticed? The autumn colours are peeking through, perhaps due to the extremely dry conditions, but also the season. I love to walk in the early autumn. The days are warm and the nights are cool enough to open the bedroom windows and turn off the air conditioning at last. The sun still has the strength to warm the soul.

The last of the hot air balloons flew through the other morning. Like birds migrating south, they are leaving the area seeking warmer locations for the winter season.

Every tree has at least a few leaves that are turning the brilliant colours we associate with autumn. It’s just the beginning.

Even the cheery Black-Eyed Susans have passed their peak and are beginning to wilt.

The last white rose on the bush is clinging on, making passers-by smile; a reminder that they’ll be back in profusion next spring.

As flower wilt and shrivel up bees hover near sucking up whatever nectar they can find to sustain them through the coming cold months. But for now, early autumn is a very pleasant time.

The remaining choke cherries are beginning to shrivel but they still make a tasty snack for birds fattening up for the migration south, or in preparation for sitting out the winter with the rest of us.

Wee blossoms in the ditch are fading, but still golden in the sunlight.

And high in a tree, the crab  apples are ready for raccoons and deer to snack upon.

Yes, early autumn IS the perfect time for a walkabout. The mugginess of summer has abated and the air is becoming crisp and clear. We are fortunate here in eastern Canada to enjoy four distinct seasons and the coming fall is, without doubt, my favourite.

For most people, January 1st signals the start of a new year. But for me it’s fall. Perhaps it’s because a new school year begins in September. Or perhaps it’s just because it’s invigorating after the sultry days of summer.

 

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, Fall Foliage, New Brunswick, photography, seasons Tagged , , |

2000 km +: what a week!

A little over a week ago Joel and I went in to Saint John to view the arrival of the Tall Ships for the Festival of Sails event. It was wonderful to see the beautiful ships rounding Partridge Island and heading for the harbour. It was also wonderful to see the people who turned out to welcome the ships and their crews and to celebrate just one of the many summer festivals the city has to offer.

No sooner was that over when I hit the road for Nova Scotia to spend a couple of days visiting friends. It was a terrific time as well and on Wednesday I head for home again.

Thursday I did some laundry and tried to get a bit of rest because my (ahem) 50th High School reunion was happening on Friday and Saturday. I didn’t take very many photos as I was having much too good a time, but I enjoyed watching everyone reconnecting, laughing and sharing both stories and adventures.This involved multiple trips into Saint John and Hampton, of course.

Then, to round off the week I got up at 5:a.m. yesterday and headed to PEI to photographs the Dressage PEI show and the Atlantic Canada Equestrian Championships. Got home last night, crashed and got up at 6 this morning to start downloading hundreds of photos, sort them, prepare the proofs and then upload the whole shebang to my website – once it was back up and running.

Yes, this is the week that was. I think this one will be just a little quieter – I hope. Harley needs his mama to be home!

 

Also posted in accomplishments, awards, BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, seasons

Summer is coming to an end but it’s not over yet

Yes, summer is slowly coming to an end. There was a distinctly fall-ish nip to the air this morning. But that didn’t deter Joel and me from heading in to Saint John to watch the dramatic arrival of tall masted sailing ships – the central part of the Saint John Festival of Sail 2017. They were magnificent as they rounded the corner from behind historic Partridge Island and began their parade into the Saint John Harbour.

Coming out of the fog from behind Partridge Island to begin the sail into Saint John’s Harbour

As the ships began to sail in the sun came out from behind the clouds warming the spectators who lined the route on both sides of the harbour. Out on the water a flotilla of boats – big boats, small boats, sail boats, motor boats, kayaks and more – were waiting to accompany the newcomers to their berths.

Watching the #tallshipsSJ arrive was a wonderful way to spend a warm and sunny mid-August morning. It’s just one of several events happening in our ‘hood’ of southern NB over the next few weeks. Here’s a sample of a few of the over 100 photos I took during the ships’ arrival.

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Events like this plus, many others happening in the area, encourage a sense of community and a LOT of smiling. Total strangers were talking with each other – about the weather (yes, it’s a typically Canadian pass-time), about the ships, about their families and pets and generally getting to know each other. Some shared photo tips. Some just smiled and said hello – but the general feeling was SO nice, especially given the current world-wide political climate. There was no talk of politics, terrorism or general angst. Just a variety of people enjoying the day and an experience, together.

Coming up next? A chocolate festival, a celebration of all things blueberry, the annual giant Flea Market (this week-end) in Sussex, the Kings County Agricultural Fair, the Balloon Fiesta and SO MUCH MORE. So, don’t give up on the season yet – there’s still lots of time to enjoy the weather and events that make it special!

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, summer Tagged , , , |

Summer days are flying by!

Summer days are flying by much too quickly. Not quite two months past the summer equinox, our days are noticeably shorter, especially for those of us who tend to arise with or before sunrise. Those who’ve been enjoying long summer evenings are finding the light for their outdoor activities is disappearing quickly too.

But, it’s still warm and people are still out and about enjoying themselves with summer pursuits.

Children enjoying a dip in Bennett Lake in #FundyNationalPark

And the adult pursuits are a bit more leisurely, but no less fun for the participants.

Kayaking on Bennett Lake in #FundyNationalPark

As summer winds down into fall, the days get shorter and colder, and the kids return to school we’ll see more of this…

Relaxing in the Big Red Chairs

Also, have you noticed that the closer we get to the end of summer, the more colourful the sunsets and moonsets become?

Bright sunset August 14, 2017

Full moon sinking behind the trees.

What a summer it has been, though. It’s the warmest and dries in over 25 years, according to The Weather Network. Although the danger of forest fires remains high, and for farmers and those on wells, the worry about adequate water for growing crops, watering livestock and keeping households running is also top of mind, for others it’s been an ideal summer for vacations, visits to the beach and travelling to see family and friends.

#SaintJohn harbour in the fog

I went into Saint John this morning and did a little scouting for vantage points that might work for watching the #TallShips arrive on Friday. As I faced the harbour and the uptown area, the fog was rolling in.

#UptownSaintJohn in the morning fog

But as I turned toward West Saint John things looked a bit brighter.

The view over the Harbour Bridge toward West Saint John

And facing north, it was positively bright!

Facing the north end of Saint John

Here in New Brunswick you can experience a variety of seasons in one day – often in one location – depending on the direction you are facing! I’ll bet people were swimming in Millidgeville!

Meanwhile, back in Picadilly, this lone young buck was hoping to meet up with some ‘ladies’ early one morning a week or so ago. That’s the field they frequent when foraging for snacks.

Yes, summer is flying by quickly but it’s been a pleasure to get out and enjoy it this year.

Coming up soon? The annual Flea Market event is on for the rest of this week and then, the week-end after Labour Day it’ll be time for the annual invasion of the Balloons. They’re always fun to watch and shoot (photographically speaking of course!). I’ll be on my deck, coffee in one hand, camera in the other, to salute the official ‘end of summer’ that is the #AtlanticInternationalBalloonFiesta.

Also posted in BLOG, family, photography, seasons Tagged , , , , |

How to capture summer memories

As the song says, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” Everyone wants to capture those elusive summer memories to sustain them through the long, cold months of winter.

Joel and Harley on the shores of the Bay of Fundy

So, how do you capture them? There’s a trite saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and in fact, it’s true. How many times have you picked up a photo album to scan through the photos of a special event or time in your life? How often have you grabbed that handful of snapshots out of the shoe box to search for that one photo that you are sure is in there. Or perhaps you’ve searched the hard drive on your computer or phone, wondering where you hid a particular shot?

If you really want to enjoy those summer memories next winter, now’s the time to get it in gear before the season winds down and autumn arrives.

First of all, keep your camera with you. Whether you are shooting with a large DSLR, a smaller point and shoot camera or your phone, have it with you. The best camera is the one that’s in your hands at the moment you see an image you want to keep!

A lot of people shoot at the lowest quality jpeg that their camera / phone will allow so they can get the greatest number of images into the memory of the device. However, when you have photos that you want to print – either individually or to put into a photo book – you need a better quality. I recommend shooting at least at the highest quality jpeg your camera allows or, if you have a DSLR, shooting in RAW to allow for the best quality in future editing. Almost any size can be printed out at 4″ x 6″ but if you want larger images or some serious wall art (say 16″ x 20″ or more) you need lots of pixels to make that work; otherwise your finished image may be blurry or ‘fuzzy’ in the details.

West Quaco Lighthouse near St. Martins, NB

Sometimes the memories you want to capture are of people and pets at a particular location. Other times those memories involve a specific site or moment in time. To recognize what it is that you have captured, try to get as close to the subject as possible. The paint chipped top of this lighthouse is much more interesting up close than it would be shot from a great distance where you might not even be able to tell that the light is actually on!

An open lily

If you are shooting photographs of your garden, try to get close to one representative flower that tells the tale of your success, rather than an indistinct mass – although those have their place too if you have a prolific display of colour to show off.

Lily bud

Sometimes it’s fun to get in really close and use a shallow depth of field to emphasize new growth and a bud about to burst forth.

Hosta flowers

 

Astilbe flower

 

Bees at work in the hostas

Once you’ve captured a variety of images that represent your summer memories, select the best and plan on having them printed and either put into albums, printed into a memory book (there are a number of places that provide this service), or be brave and choose your favourite to be printed and hung on the wall to be enjoyed year ’round.

Just a hint, but if you’re thinking wall art then, as the saying goes, “go big or stay home”. An 8″ x 10″ print is NOT wall art – it’s a good desk or tabletop display. The bigger you go, the more impressive your print will be. Far better to have one or two large prints than a mishmash of smaller ones cluttering your wall with no obvious theme or focal point.

So, go out and enjoy capturing your summer memories while the warmth and sunshine last. Happy shooting!

Also posted in BLOG, photography, seasons Tagged |

A Farmer’s work is never done

Farmers work from dawn to dusk, and often much longer than that. Growing, cutting, tedding, baling and storing hay is a huge part of their lives during the summer months. The expression “make hay while the sun shines” rings true! The farmer who owns the fields around our home has a crew working from first to last light to take advantage of the respite in the wet weather we’ve had all spring and early summer.

Sunrise over the hills of Picadilly, NB

On the first day they cut. In this case, the farmer has several fields so once he gets two or three fields cut, everything rolls along like clockwork. As one field gets “tedded” (the hay raked into rows and ‘fluffed’ so it can dry in the sun), another gets baled. When the baling is done, the wagons arrive to take the string mesh wrapped bales away to the main farm where they are plastic wrapped for storage.

Let the baling begin.

It’s fascinating to watch how quickly it all happens. No time or effort is wasted.

Baled and awaiting transport to the farm

In hours the field will be totally empty and ready to start growing a second crop for the season. Some farmers are really lucky and get three cuts from their fields if the conditions are right.

It makes me think back to how hay used to be harvested. It was cut and tedded, but the balers were smaller and produced smaller, rectangular bales that later had to be hand loaded into wagons and then hand loaded into hay lofts. Before then, hay was cut either by hand with a scythe or with a mechanical mower towed by a horse or two. The loose hay was then hand forked into wagons, driven to the barn and hand forked into a loft to store for the winter. Both methods were very labour intensive compared to today’s methods with large bales handled by tractors with huge forks on the front.

A large round bale awaiting pickup.

To be honest, I’m glad our hay humping days are done. Even with the few hundred smaller square bales we handled every year to feed my horse, Beau, it was hot, sticky, itchy and exhausting work.

White lilac tree flower

My farming these days consists of watching my perennials look after themselves and planting a few colourful flower boxes on my deck railing.

My favourite flowers grow on the roadsides and in the ditches, happily looking after themselves, saving me a lot of work. They wave cheerily as we pass by.

Simple daisies looking after themselves.

Also posted in BLOG, farming, New Brunswick, seasons Tagged |

The time has come

It’s the time of year that farmers have a love/hate relationship with their fields. It is haying season.

Sunrise on Mulberry Lane

On the first really sunny day we’d had in a while, Harley and I headed out early for our morning walk. The sunrise over the hills of Picadilly seen from Mulberry Lane was spectacular. Fields on both sides of the road were fragrant with mature hay, ready for harvest.

Roadside weeds at sunrise

Even weeds look beautiful at sunrise. Harley is patient when I stop to shoot photos, taking my time to bend over and have a look to see how a photo might appear.

Hay as far as the eye can see

In the warm glow of sunrise, the hay takes on a golden cast.

Seed heads begin to dance as a light breeze blows across the field.

Timothy glowing

The mature seed heads of the timothy hay glow as they blow in the early morning breeze.

Almost beyond mature, the hay crop is ready. It’s time for that first cut and judging by the density of the growth in the fields, the yield should be excellent. Farmer Brown’s cows will eat well this winter!

In another day or two this field will first be full of bales – and then empty, ready to grow some more for a second cut and harvest for the season.

I love haying season (now that I no longer have to lift and stack bales). The smell of the dew drenched grass and then the intoxication of the aroma of newly cut hay wafting in my windows.

 

 

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, farming, New Brunswick, photography, seasons Tagged , , , |

It’s summer time!

Yay, it’s summer time and, as the song says, the living is easy! Well, it’s easier.

There are lawns to mow, gardens to plant and tend, and, or course, the decorative touches around the house that make being outside a joy on a warm summer day.

Purple Petunias

I’m not sure why, but this year when I shopped for annual flowers for my five hanging baskets, the purple petunias won out over all the other offerings. Some people associate purple with sadness or loss. Not me. These flowers are prolific and so very, very cheerful on a bright summer day.

More purple flowers found their way into the whimsical horse planter on my deck railing.

Dew drops on petals – macro photo

When I stepped out the door early this morning the first thing I noticed was the collection of tiny dew drops on the delicate petals of my purple flowers. I dashed back into the house and grabbed my macro lens to take an up close and personal look at them.

Dew drops – macro 1X

The way they reflect the light and colours around them intrigues me.

dew drops on petals macro at 2X

Yes, it is summer time and, although there are chores to be done, the living IS easier and there are flowers to admire. Enjoy the warmth and sunshine when it’s available. Slow down a bit to enjoy this most fleeting of the seasons. Breathe in the scents that Mother Nature is providing – from the heady aroma of roses to the musky smells emanating from the bushes along the roadside. The smell of recently cut grass is a hallmark of the season as is the smell of clothes dried on a line outside in the sun.

The season is far too short. Pull on some comfortable clothes and venture out. It’s amazing what the warmth, sunshine, sights and scents of the season will do for your soul.

Also posted in BLOG, photography, seasons Tagged , , , , , |

It’s Father’s Day again!

For some people, Father’s Day can be an emotional minefield. Some grew up without fathers. Others had the misfortune to have abusive or, at best, neglectful ones.

I was fortunate. My Dad was a loving man who did everything he possibly could for me, and for my mother.

My memory bank if full – full of love, full of laughter, full of life – thanks to the man I so admire.

Born without sight

He was born with congenital infantile glaucoma – in other words, really bad sight. He was virtually blind in one eye, and could barely see out of the other. When he was a young boy, he was playing with a stick and injured his ‘good’ eye. In the early 1900s surgical techniques were both primitive and dangerous and, with both optic nerves damaged, the doctors and my grandparents decided that he would lose both of his eyes.

He was one tough and determined little boy, My Uncle Hubert told me tales of the trouble they got into around the little farm in Albert County where they grew up. He also told me of the amazing skills my Dad had, even as a teenager.

Haying season on a farm is a critical time of the year. As a blind child, there were some chores Dad wasn’t able to do. He did, however, learn to drive the team of horses that pulled the hay wagon down from the fields to the barn.

“It was something to see your father turn that team and wagon around and then back them up the ramp into the hay loft,” Uncle Hubert said.

I’ve seen that ramp and I don’t think I could have done it!

Dad went to the School for the Blind in Halifax, NS. There he learned to be both an accomplished pianist and a piano tuner. In his final year of study he was sent out around the city to tune pianos in people’s homes.

Forty-five years later I was studying at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Dad came to the city, by bus, to visit me. The part of the city where I had my minuscule apartment hadn’t existed when he was living there.

I borrowed my boyfriend’s car and took Dad on a tour of the city. Once we got into the centre of the city and I told him we were on Spring Garden Road, he knew exactly where he was. We set off to visit an old friend of his who still lived in the same home as he had when they’d been students together. I followed Dad’s directions, “Turn left here, two more blocks, turn right. It should be the third house on the right, number 23 – it used to be blue I think.” Sure enough, we were right in front of our destination – and it was blue.

Humour makes life worth living

Dad’s sense of humour was legendary.

A new piano tuning client called one day and sounded quite upset. “I have an appointment to have my piano tuned tomorrow,” she said, “and I’ve just learned that you are blind. We live on the second floor. How will we get you upstairs?”

Not missing a beat, Dad replied, “Madam, I can not see, but my legs function perfectly well.”

He was always a busy man. He couldn’t just sit and do nothing. When my son was a little boy I asked Dad to babysit one night so I could go out on a date. David was bathed and tucked in bed and I got ready to leave.

My guest arrived and met Dad. After a few moments of chit chat, we headed out to go to a movie. As I closed the door behind me, I switched off the lights in the apartment. My date was appalled! “That’s the rudest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

It took me a minute to realize what he was talking about and then I started to laugh. I said, “He’s blind. He doesn’t need the lights on.” When I was growing up, the last sighted person to leave the room turned the lights out, whether Dad was there or not. I laughed all the way to the car.

When we got home from the movie, since Dad was sleeping in the living room on the hide-a-bed couch, we tiptoed into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. While the machine dripped its elixir into the pot, I grabbed the utensil drawer that was always stuck and gave it a mighty yank. It flew across the room, spewing silverware everywhere clanging and banging enough to wake the dead.

Looking for something to do to pass the time, Dad had gone through the kitchen and had soaped all of the sticky drawers so they’d slide better and then, in the lower cupboards, had hung hooks for all of my pots and pans to give me more room. Good thing I made enough coffee for three of us!

Growing up with a blind father

I grew up with a blind man in the house and it was a good thing. I learned that a disability isn’t necessarily a handicap to life. I learned that a disability doesn’t mean you can’t have joy in your life and give joy to others. My Dad belonged to various organizations, could beat most people at cribbage and definitely humiliated me in the bowling alley. Then again, I not good at a lot of sports and never have been.

He enjoyed a good laugh, often at his own expense. He loved his family and the varied and many pets I dragged home over the years. He cried when each of our cats died, although I’m not so sure he was distressed when Hammy the hamster kicked the bucket. The little bugger bit him many times.

My mother spent the last three years of her life in the extended care ward at the Regional hospital. She had Alzheimers, Parkinsons and she suffered several strokes. Through all that time Dad would take the bus across town to visit her almost every day. In her mind, she thought that, when he left to go home at night, he was, in fact, heading out ‘on the town’ with other women, living the high life. This is my Dad – the man who never drank. The thought was ludicrous.

Then she decided that not only was he living the high life, but that he’d had an affair with one of the nurses on her ward. Not only that, but they’d had ten kids! When she told me that story I decided I’d best speak to the nurse quickly because, in her demented state, you never knew what Mum might say.

The nurses on that ward were wonderful people. They personified kindness and patience. When I told her about my mother’s fantasy, she said, “Your Dad’s a great guy and we all really like him a lot. But, I think he might be a bit old for me.” We had a good giggle over that. Then she asked, “How many kids did we have?”

“Ten,” I said.

“Oh my,” she replied. “There must have been a lot of twins and triplets! I’m only twenty-three years old.”

Yes, it’s Father’s Day, again, and I’m glad to have this annual reminder. I think of him often, but this is the day I focus on those memories. That is his immortality.

 

 

Also posted in BLOG, family Tagged , |

Odes have been written to Spring

Flood waters of the St. John River near Maugerville, NB May 18, 2017

For centuries poets around the world have written odes to the beauty of spring. Spring, the re-birth of the world after a long, cold and dreary winter. Spring, the beginning of warmth and strong sunshine. Spring, the season of hope.

Beautiful blossoms

Trees of all sorts have been pushing forth their amazing blossoms, some setting fruit for the coming season.

But Mother Nature has been less than cooperative this year. The temperature outside is bitterly cold for late May. We have the heat turned on, the windows closed and I’ve dug out the heavy blankets for the bed – again.

Ever optimistic, the canopy rests on the deck, the bistro table and chairs are ready for morning coffee. The hummingbird feeder has been hung for quite a while – with only one lone, occasional visitor.

Spring? This is a cruel joke this year. Cold, heavy rains and strong winds would discourage the most optimistic of souls.

Spring? Where are you? Come back, please? And may summer follow you to warm our bodies and our souls!

 

Also posted in BLOG, New Brunswick, photography, seasons, spring