Category Archives: appreciation

Winter Sunday Sunrise

For many people winter isn’t the most joyous of the seasons. I can be one of those, whining about the cold, the ice, the aches and pains. But, since I have no choice to to head out every day for the benefit of my canine companion Harley, I’m working on retraining myself to see the beauty in all of the seasons.

We walk early in the morning, usually just before or during sunrise. Normally I take a camera, or at least my cell phone with its camera, when we walk. Today, unfortunately, I forgot to take either with me when we set out for our daily stroll down Mulberry Lane. In hindsight, it wasn’t unfortunate at all. Mulberry Lane runs between two large hayfields and the view in any direction is quite lovely. Sometimes the openness of the area is a detriment – like when the wind is blowing a gale across those fields, whipping any available snow into a frenzy that stings cheeks, eyes and fingertips.

Other times, like today, the air was exceptionally warm for late February and the fog lay heavily over the fields, obscuring both sights and sounds. For once we couldn’t hear any traffic on the nearby highway. Our view consisted of the tops of trees poking above the low lying fog clouds. So quiet, so peaceful, it made our pre-dawn walk a joy to the senses.

Once we got home I rushed to get my camera set up on the deck to capture what was left of the most eerie but pleasant feeling from our morning’s endeavours.

 

Sunny winter sunrise in Picadilly, NB

 

Winter sunrise on the hills of Picadilly, NB

Needless to say my constant companion was close at paw to oversee my efforts.

I can barely remember a time when my shadow wasn’t present for everything I do.

Harley watching sunrise

Every day is a gift, meant to be enjoyed, each moment appreciated for what it is.

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Why celebrate? Why not celebrate!

Last Sunday was our friend’s birthday. Chester McMackin turned a youthful 84. So, Judi and I (and Lola in spirit!) decided to celebrate the occasion with our Facebook buddy – face to face rather than keyboard to keyboard. We got together at his favourite coffee spot in Hampton and shared stories, laughter and, of course, cake!

With twinkling eyes and the lilt of laughter in his voice, Chester regaled us with tales of his childhood and more. In other words, life in general.

His dramatic reading of the cleverly written (and dictated by Murphy the horse) tribute from Judi, accompanying the lovely framed portrait, had us and everyone else in the establishment in stitches!

And then the cake appeared – chocolate upon chocolate – causing the recipients (us) to ooohhh and aaahhhh appropriately in anticipation of the sweet delight – such are our peccadilloes.

Armed with a potentially lethal weapon, Chester divided the booty among us – and the party continued!

Not to be outdone by the ladies’ gifts to mark the occasion (framed photo from Judi, fresh homemade shortbread cookies from yours truly!), Chester presented each of us a treasure trove of fudge to take home. Who could resist?

Yep, it was a very good day. We wish our buddy “Chesterkins” a very Happy Birthday and hope we can all celebrate many, many more!

 

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Making friends – making smiles

I met a new friend today by happenstance. One of my friends on Facebook shared a link to this artist’s blog and it totally resonated with me. I posted a response to her #makeamakersmile blogpost, and she responded to me. We share a philosophy and a deep appreciate for art and landscapes, although we work in different media.

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Do check out her blogpost at https://www.janehunterart.com/blogs/news/make-a-maker-smile. While you’re there, poke around on her website. I hope you’ll enjoy her creations and perhaps even make a purchase. Who knows, this could become an international movement! Meanwhile, here on this side of the Atlantic pond there are many artists as well, several of them living a stone’s throw away. With the madness of Christmas gift giving upon us all, why not give a hand crafted item, book, image, painting or whatever that will be sure to delight the recipient and support a local artist as well.

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

Coping

Everyone has his or her own way of coping with loss or drastic change. For me it means grabbing a camera, putting a leash on the dog, and going for a walk on a country road just to stretch and breathe slowly, letting the stress out with each deep breath.

Last vestiges of fall foliage

Last vestiges of fall foliage

Sometimes if you take the time to peek into the ditches you’ll find remnants of the amazing fall foliage colours the Maritimes are famous for – and it will make you smile in spite of yourself.

Not letting go

Not letting go

And at the edge of the road a loan leaf clings to the naked branch of a bush, its comrades blown away by the last strong wind.

After two weeks of travelling in to the hospital to sit with my mother, brothers and sisters while her life ebbed away, and another week of frantic activity after the not-unexpected 6:a.m. call, the hubbub has slowed and the exhaustion has set in. When you are sad it is hard to get motivated to bundle up against the cold and go outside, but Mother Nature offers solace, encouragement and the rejuvenation needed to keep coping and moving on.

 

Supermoon (Beaver moon) Rising

Supermoon (Beaver moon) Rising

Last night I had intended to go out and set up my gear to capture the rising of the Supermoon over the local hills. One of the side effects of grief and attempting to cope is the inability to remember things properly and motivate yourself in a timely way. Instead of preparing, I sat down and ate dinner with my husband, only realizing after the fact that I’d missed that moment of the moon appearing over the crest of the hill. The best I could manage was a quick snap of it rising rapidly through the naked tree branches across the road.

Supermoon setting

Supermoon setting

My alternate plan, since I’m an early riser anyway, was to get out this morning and capture the giant orb setting over the Town of Sussex to the west of us. Mother Nature played a cruel joke on my plan and hid most of the moon behind cloud cover, showing just enough to taunt me!

Look closely and you'll see the lights of Sussex at the bottom of the photo.

Look closely and you’ll see the lights of Sussex at the bottom of the photo.

Everyone has different coping strategies. For me it will be more walks with Harley and perhaps a camera over my shoulder too. It’s been a long several months and no matter how prepared for someone’s death you think you are, you aren’t. A death brings out the best in some people, and the worst in others. Hopefully those who cope by striking out against others will find their way back to those who support each other in coping with the loss of the linchpin that held it all together.

Also posted in Autumn, BLOG, caring, death, emotions, Fall Foliage, family, New Brunswick, photography, rural living lifestyle, seasons, writing Tagged , , |

Farewell to a brave soul

Marjorie (Butland) Snow 1933-2016 RIP

Marjorie (Butland) Snow
1933-2016
RIP

My mother passed away this morning taking her brave soul to wherever such souls go. Like the rest of us, she wasn’t perfect. But she tried her best to be a good person, especially in the face of tragedy after tragedy throughout her life including the loss of a baby to SIDS, an adult daughter to an accident, her first husband to an accident, a beautiful grand daughter to illness, her second husband to cancer, her own mother and two sisters, friends and relatives, and repeated battles with her own cancer. Through it all and much more she just kept going, doing her best. And what more can one ask of anyone?

She left a legacy of family members across the country – four generations at last count.

There were many moments of joy too. The thrill of finding a daughter given up for adoption 42 years previously. The delight in the marriages of her grandchildren. And later on the birth of her great, and great great, grandchildren – populating the country from coast to coast! In the 24 years that I’ve been a part of this family I’ve collected a few photos at various event. Many are just snapshots grabbed with a point and shoot camera or a cell phone, but they are just a few of the tangible memories of laughter and smiles I will carry in my heart. Rest in peace, Mum.

https://youtu.be/Z7KBvXSY0bc

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Giving Thanks!

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This is the week-end to give thanks in Canada, and we have much to be thankful for. Fall foliage in New Brunswick is always lovely, but some years are more spectacular than others, and this year is one of the latter. Every where you look the hills are dotted with a patchwork quilt of brilliant colours – deep reds, vibrant golds and everything in between. This week-end will probably be the peak of the season for foliage because once the winds and rains arrive, the dying leaves’ tenuous hold on the trees will be ripped away and they’ll fall to the ground.

ragweed-seed-head-web-copyEven weeds that are beginning to shrivel up in anticipation of winter offer beauty for those willing to look.

weed-seed-head-web-copy

weed-head-web-copy

And left over bits of timothy and grass seeds are hanging on – ready to start new growth next spring.

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And still a few plants and their flowers continue to thrive giving us more reasons to be thankful. I wish everyone a thoughtful and happy Thanksgiving!

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

It’s all about relationships

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Relationships exist between people and between people and their critters. If we are lucky, good ones exist among family members.

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of photographing the Smyth family. We’ve been friends for many years and it’s always a pleasure to capture their special moments, memories and milestones.

Our photo session yesterday included two adults, 3 kids, 5 horses, a dog and a bunny. Wrangling a group that size is always a challenge, especially when you want to highlight the relationships among the group members – human and otherwise. But, with lots of cooperation from everyone – even the bunny – we had a good hour+ together and I came away with over 200 shots to choose from. For now, here are a few of my favourites!

 

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

98 Years Young!

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Annie Mary Wright was born in 1917 in Shepody, Albert County, New Brunswick – a rural area overlooking the Bay of Fundy near Moncton, NB. She passed away last December – still alert, intelligent, young at heart and as outspoken as she’d always been.

My Aunt Annie has been a character in the story of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was little and my parents would take me to Albert County to visit my Grammie, Grampie, uncles, aunts and cousins, I remember her simply being there. She would often show us things around the farm, the flowers, the animals, always subtly teaching us things she thought we children should know. She did it well because I don’t remember being taught – just learning.

She and my Dad, Hillman, were very close, being only six years apart in age and the first two children in the family. When Dad was 11 years old, he set off to go to the School for the Blind in Halifax. My grandmother and a no doubt wide-eyed 5-year-old Annie accompanied him on the journey. I can only imagine Annie’s excitement as she embarked on her first train ride followed by what I’m sure was a tearful goodbye to her older brother. They stayed close until the day my Dad died, frequently talking on the phone.

A Crazy Cat Lady?

I found an old love letter that my Dad wrote to my mother back in the 1940s, and in it he talked about Annie and a litter of kittens she was nurturing. Her love of cats obviously began at a young age! I distinctly remember the house and barn  at the farm being overrun with them any time I came up to visit, despite Grammie’s efforts to get them out of her house! It was a family trait, not doubt, as Dad also had a life-long fondness for cats! She kept herds of them until she was 96 and moved into Forest Dale Nursing Home in Riverside-Albert. Leaving them behind was no doubt one of the most difficult things she ever had to do. She had a sign in her room that said “Cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.”  A crazy cat lady? Cat lady for sure; crazy? Not likely!

Annie and her 'cat' pillow

Annie and her ‘cat’ pillow at her 97th birthday party

A woman ahead of her time!

I always admired my amazing and somewhat eccentric Aunt Annie. She was brilliant, fearless and confident, a woman ahead of her time. Extremely intelligent, she was also very well educated at a time when that was remarkable for a woman. She received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for achieving the highest marks in the county in her high school entrance exams. At the age of 15 she graduated from Riverside Consolidated School as valedictorian and received both the Birk’s Medal and the Governor General’s Award for her academic achievements. She also had the highest marks in the Province in the 1933 Matriculation exams and received the Lord Beaverbrook Scholarship that allowed her to attend the University of New Brunswick. She graduated with a BA in mathematics and biology in 1937.

She received a National Research Council Grant and went to Montreal to attend McGill University for graduate studies in genetics, receiving her Masters of Science degree in 1941.

A born teacher, she taught school in Montreal and after ten years, returned to Albert County to teach in various local schools. After retirement she continued to tutor students in math and sciences, helping them to unravel complicated concepts.

98th birthday celebrations September, 2015

98th birthday celebrations September, 2015

Interested in Everything – and Opinionated too!

She was intrigued by the world around her and at the same time devoted to the minutiae of her families’ lives. My husband and I brought our son David to Albert Co. for a family visit when he was about 1 1/2 years old. Annie was enthralled and never forgot to mark his birthday with a card or call.

Some say she had an acerbic wit and sharp tongue. I just think she didn’t suffer fools gladly and promptly made that clear! She wasn’t shy about expressing her opinions. When my professional career path took me away from the music I’d been raised with,  I made the mistake of telling her that I rarely played the violin or piano any more. She let me know in no uncertain terms that I was wasting a god-given talent! When I had my long, thick, very curly hair cut short, she was similarly displeased! She was alternately imperious and hilarious but her laugh was infectious.

When she was a young sixty-years-old she went to Nairobi as a delegate to the Associated Country Women of the World Conference. Her favourite memory was of the strong, mellow black coffee she enjoyed while she was there.

Times Transcript article by Joyce Hudson

Times Transcript article               by Joyce Hudson

Family meant a great deal to Aunt Annie. I’m glad she had a chance to meet my husband, Joel. He was quite taken with her and has often remarked how much he’d enjoyed meeting her. He felt she was quite an amazing individual.

Joel, Aunt Annie and Me September 2015

Joel, Aunt Annie and Me
September 2015

As she marked David’s birthdays and later followed his globe trotting adventures with glee, she also remembered my birthdays. She called every year and I will miss those calls as the final link with my Dad’s generation has been broken.

This quote from Linda Hogan’s moving book, Solar Storms, seems fitting:

“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way.

Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me.

Be still, they say. Watch and listen.

You are the result of the love of thousands.”

Thank you for your love, Aunt Annie. Rest in peace.

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Courage comes in all forms

Hillman W. Wright

Hillman W. Wright

That’s my Dad, one of the most courageous people I’ve ever known. He would have been 105 years old today. When he was born he had a severe vision problem. Today we know it was infantile glaucoma; then he was just ‘blind’. At the age of ten he was playing with a stick and injured his ‘good’ eye. The resulting infection left him totally blind and he was given glass eyes to replace the orbs surgically removed.

I can’t imagine what it was like for him then – living on a farm in rural Albert County, New Brunswick. But from stories I’ve heard, and from what I know of the man he became, he faced the challenges head on. At 11 years old he travelled to Nova Scotia to attend the Halifax School for the Blind. There he became a certified piano teacher as well as learning the trade of piano tuning. His innate musical talent and hearing attuned to pitch ensured success at both, although he didn’t pursue his teaching.

Upon his graduation, one of his instructors wrote to my grandmother and said Dad’s “remarkable reserve and gentleness, combined with a keen desire to be helpful, will win Hillman a first place among his friends and associates wherever he goes.”

He went on to say that “Hillman is no ordinary young man… beyond being a skillful tuner and mechanic, he is a gentleman worthy of the trust and confidence of any family. He never talks to no purpose, and is slow about expressing an opinion until he has weighed the matter well. This is a remarkable asset to a young man.”

From there he moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, where he eventually tuned the piano of a young music teacher in the city. Romance blossomed and they eventually got married – a courageous act for both of them. It was unheard of for a blind man and a sighted woman to marry at that time, but they did.

As a couple they continued down that courageous path by adopting me! Dad was 39 and Mum 40 when I came into their lives. Parenthood is difficult enough, even for a young couple. But for a then-middle-aged couple to adopt a four-month-old infant must have taken great fortitude.

Dad’s life is a testament to courage – from exploring the city alone, often traveling by bus to find his way to clients’ homes, to traveling alone by to a conference in Chicago. On his way home from that trip the airline staff left him alone in a room to wait for his connecting flight. When he heard the flight called and no one came to get him, he found his way to a wall, and then to a telephone, to call and ask what was going on. They’d forgotten him. To get him to Toronto, his next stop on the trip, they put him on a bus and wished him farewell. That would be frightening for any of us, but for Dad it was just something to be dealt with.

I had polio when I was three and had to learn to walk all over again. Dad was the soul of patience helping me to stand and learn to take those tentative steps again.

No matter what challenges he faced he remained undaunted. His quiet courage seeing him through all adversities. When my mother was spending her final days in the hospital, he traveled by bus across town to visit her daily. When it was his turn, he accepted the inevitable with grace and dignity as only the most courageous can do.

He has no medals in testament to his bravery; but he will live on in my memory as an example of the ultimate in selfless courage, a model that today’s young people would do well to follow.

Also posted in BLOG, family

Sunny Sunday Afternoon

_DSF2656Today was a lovely sunny Sunday in spring, the middle of the long (Victoria Day) week-end. Looking for something to do, I decided to venture over to the farm where we used to live and enjoy the river, the budding trees and a visit with the current owner. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve photographed that big tree down on the riverbank, but it still intrigues me.

_DSF2650Given the world-wide crisis in bee populations, it is always gratifying to see fields full of the bright yellow heads to to realize that these seed pods on one that has finished flowering are ready to be picked up by a stiff breeze and deposited somewhere else to grow and feed the bees.

_DSF2669 - Version 2Even the frog at the edge of the pond seemed relaxed on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

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