Category Archives: Canada

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 appreciation, BLOG, farming, New Brunswick, photography, seasons Tagged , , , |

Little rays of hope

Spring seems to be delaying her full arrival here in the Maritimes; but there are little rays of hope.

In the fields full of dandelions…

Dandelion Fields Forever

Or little individual blossoms…

Even in the seed heads past their prime, there is hope. Hope for the summer to come. Hope that the bees find the flowers and drink heartily. Hope for warmth and sunshine and hope for more flowers as well.

 

Dandelion Seed Head spreading the joy.

There is also hope in the lilac blooms finally appearing on the shrubs.

And in the tiny white flowers on the trees…

In other words, it is the season of hope, the season for dreaming and planning for the future. It is the season when we can finally venture outdoors without quite so many layers of warm clothes and, when the sun does shine, it is the season when we feel its warmth on our skin.

Spring does bring us little rays of hope with each lengthening day.

 

 

 

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

Chocolate heaven

Heaven’s plate!

Remember the song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan? Well, a visit to Adorable Chocolat in Shediac, New Brunswick, is a chocolate lover’s version of knocking on heaven’s door.

I spent a couple of days with #DoreenPendgracs of #Chocolatour fame this week. She wanted to visit a chocolatier that she’d heard of from Shediac and needed a ‘tour guide’ who knew the area. Naturally, I volunteered – and I am SO glad I did.

I picked Doreen up at the Moncton airport Tuesday afternoon and we had a leisurely drive to Shediac. When we arrived the weather was perfect – the sun was shining, there was no wind to speak of and barely a ripple in the water!

Shediac is, of course, famous for its lobster. Sadly I’m allergic to shellfish so Doreen resisted indulging while I was with her, but I hope she was able to get some to take home with her next Monday.

We roamed around the town, getting our bearings. No visit to Shediac would be complete without the requisite photo with the world’s biggest lobster!

 

When a Prairie girl visits the Maritimes, she needs to see a few traditional things – like lighthouses and fishing boats at the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf. We enjoyed exploring what there was to see.

Pointe-du-Chêne wharf

 

Lighthouse on the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf

 

Doreen enjoying the view from the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf

Then we headed off to Cocagne to meet our hosts for the night – Mathieu, Ginette and their two delightful children, Florence and Louis – and Pudding, the guinea pig. The conversation was, of course, all about chocolate. Spending time with Doreen is an education in the finer points of all things chocolate. Ginette, co-owner of Adorable Chocolat, the shop we’d be visiting in the morning, is passionate about chocolate and there was a lot of lively discussion between the two, and the rest of us, about various chocolate blends, sources of cocoa beans, recipes and methods. We sampled some bars of chocolate that Doreen had brought with her from chocolatiers from Mexico and Ontario. I was utterly fascinated as I had no idea how complex the world of a chocolatier could be.

After a lovely dinner en famille, we headed off to bed for a good night’s sleep. You want to be rested for this experience.

In the morning we loaded the car and headed back to Shediac for a tour of Adorable Chocolat and the opportunity to sample what, in my opinion, is the best chocolate I have EVER tasted.

The shop and café are on Main Street in Shediac. If you are heading to Parlee Beach you’ll have to pass right by!

Ginette Ahier et Frédéric Desclos – master chocolatiers

Ginette and Frédéric welcomed us to their shop and we spent a delightful two hours with them. I learned that sampling chocolate is a lot like sampling wine: you take a small ‘sip’ and let it melt in your mouth so the ‘notes’ or layers of flavour have a chance to reach the taste buds on the roof of your mouth and the back of your tongue. In some you can sense a fruity aftertaste; in others a hint of anise. It was intriguing to say the least.

As our hosts prepared each sample, they first asked us to figure out the flavours and then explained how they chose the various blends of chocolate from sources around the world. This is not your average candy bar. The chocolate here is a sensual experience.

Tasting their premium “Scorpion” bars – both milk chocolate and dark (my favourite) – is an adventure in pleasure. As the chocolate melts in your mouth the flavours saturate your senses and fill you with joy!

#DoreenPendgracs sampling Scorpion chocolate- a happy experience.

Premium bars in both Milk and Dark chocolate. This milk chocolate is nothing like the commercial candy bars you may be used to. It’s AMAZING!

The shelves of the boutique are filled with goodies to delight your senses.

And the delicate macrons each filled with a different and tempting flavour…

Doreen and Frédéric discussing the fine points of chocolate creation

Frédéric perusing his recipe collection

We were sad to leave our new friends at Adorable Chocolat but I know that I, for one, will return.

Merci beaucoup, mes amis. Je suis impatient de visiter bientôt votre boutique.

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, New Brunswick, photography

Spring has sprung – at last!

It seems, of late, that it has taken much longer for spring to arrive. It’s as if the seasons are all about a month behind where they should be. But, that said, it’s a delight to have windows open, the sun radiating real warmth that soaks into you, and birds singing on every branch.

It wasn’t too long ago that the fields were swathed in snow and ice and branches barely showed above the banks on the roadsides. Now, when Harley and I go for our morning strolls, it’s a joy instead of a chore – for both of us. Now, if you look closely, buds are swelling getting ready to burst forth with leaves and flowers and the scents of the season. Spring truly is a time of rebirth and everyone’s mood reflects that. Walking down the street I notice that people are walking more lightly and with energy, smiling greetings at each other – no longer brief and gruff as winter winds drive the cold and damp into one’s bones.

In four days I’m off to Ireland on a Writer’s Retreat with author and workshop leader, Gerard Collins. He’s attracted an interesting group of writers to participate in the event from novices to experienced and published authors themselves. It should be a fascinating adventure and hopefully I’ll finally take the plunge on developing at least one of the book concepts I’ve been tossing around for eons. I’ll try and keep you posted from the Emerald Isle if I can. Meanwhile, get out, breathe deeply and enjoy the burgeoning spring that is just around the corner.

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

The Hunger Moon

The full moon in February is called The Hunger Moon because, in times past (and perhaps not so far in the past), people’s food supplies and game for hunting had dwindled through the winter and they were hungry. Nonetheless, a full moon is always an impressive sight.

The Hunger Moon

This morning the air was bitterly cold. The thermometer read -25ºC and with the windchill the feels-like temperature was at least five degrees colder. Cameras (and photographers) really don’t like extreme cold, so I shot this image of the moon shortly prior to daylight through the window.

Pre-dawn

As the moon continued to set, the sky lightened to its pre-dawn purple hue hinting at a warmth that wasn’t there.

Sunrise

And even as the sun began to rise adding its hint of warmth to the scene across the road, the wind came up as well. For all creatures, two and four-legged, it would prove to be brutally cold for hours yet to come. No wonder it is the season of the hunger moon.

 

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

Autumn in New Brunswick

backlit-red-leaf-web-copyAutumn in #NewBrunswick means cool, crisp and clear days, cold nights and, most importantly, brilliant fall foliage! The peak time for the most colourful display is usually in about two weeks – around our Thanksgiving or mid-October. However, this year there’s a strong hurricane threatening the entire eastern seaboard from Miami through our area and beyond. So, I decided I should gather as many seasonal images as possible today – and if there are more to be had later, I can always add to the collection. We’ve had an unnervingly dry summer so the leaves are literally hanging by a thread, dehydrated and ready to fall with the smallest breeze, never mind hurricane force winds.

apples-web-copyAutumn also means apples. These very small, sour crab apples grow on my neighbour’s tree. They’d probably make good jelly but, as older folk are prone to say, they don’t make “good eatin'”. Other varieties grown in orchards throughout the area are much tastier for snacks, pies or sweet treats!

abandoned-house-knightville-web-copyIn the countryside around #Sussex the colours of autumn are just beginning to emerge. They provide a wonderful backdrop for many scenes, even this old, derelict farm house collapsing in upon itself.

beaver-lodge-web-copyThe industrious beaver family in the pond behind our house have been fortifying their dam in an effort to raise the dwindling water level that will provide their winter habitat and protection. Normally all that greenery behind them would be under water at this time of year – a testament to the long, dry months of summer.

deer-across-field-1-red-tree-web-copyMeanwhile, in the field across the road from our house, one lone red maple stands like a sentinel above a couple of grazing deer.

far-side-of-highway-web-copyIn the adjacent field the trees on the far side of the #1 Highway are just beginning to show off their autumn colours.

seed-head-web-copyHay scraps on the edges of the fields have gone to seed.

timothy-web-copySome stand out against the detritus of a season past its glory.

view-from-deck-web-copy

Still, the view from our deck can be enjoyed as we keep track of the developing autumn colours on the far hills. Meanwhile, summer’s warmth is laid to rest  for another year under a canopy of colour.

 

red-tree-cemetery-web-copy

 

 

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

Summer is flying by in my garden

Here in the Maritimes summer in the garden is flying by much too quickly. I took a walk around the yard today creating photographs of what is happening (or not) in a couple of my very basic gardens. You have to understand that my passion is photography, not gardening. But, that said, I do appreciate how much a garden or two add to the ambience of a yard, making a house and property feel more “homey”.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

The petals on my Black-eyed Susans are showing the ravages of time but they are still a bright spot out there in the yard.

Day Lilly

Day Lily

And while most of the lilies have given up the ghost, there are still a few buds waiting to extend summer just a little longer.

Double White Rose and Bee

Double White Rose and Bee

I’m always amazed by my Double White Rose bushes that continue to bloom into the fall. They keep the local bees happy!

Double White Rose bud

Double White Rose bud

And there may be more to come before the official end of summer.

Lilac buds

Lilac buds

Even the lilac bush is still loving the heat of summer and putting out new buds.

Rose Hips

Rose Hips

Meanwhile, the roses that have finished for the season are happily setting their rose hips. The birds will be happy when the temperatures get colder.

Berries on the bush

Berries on the bush

Here’s where I have to confess my ignorance. I have no idea what type of bush this is and consequently no idea what type of berries these are – but the birds sure do like them!

So, that’s how I spent this warm and muggy summer afternoon – roaming around the gardens taking photographs while there’s still lots going on out there. If you want to make some nice photos of your garden, take your time, look for a variety of angles and simplify, simplify, simplify. All of these are shot at ISO200, f/5.6 and, since there was a slight breeze, a shutter speed of 1/500. My goal was to isolate a small section of each plant. Since the sun was shining brightly on the rose bushes, I used my body to put the roses into shadow so I could emphasize the bee, the petals and the leaf texture. The lone lilac bloom was lovely but the garage siding isn’t particularly attractive so, by using a long focal length (135mm) and a reasonably wide aperture I was able to blur the background to an almost solid gray, letting the lovely lilac flower star!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer. It’s not over yet, but as the days grow ever shorter, it gets more and more important to get out there and enjoy it while we can!

White Rose

White Rose

They call these the dog days of summer. Hmmm. I wonder why? ‘Til next time.

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

‘Tis the season – to make hay

Tedded and raked field ready for baling.

Tedded and raked field ready for baling.

I love living in rural New Brunswick. Our neighbours are farmers and we catch the rhythm of the seasons as they fertilize and lime their fields, watch them grow, cut, rake and prepare the hay for baling. The scent of new mown  grass wafts across the road and I can sit on the deck and blissfully inhale the aroma.

Baled and ready to load

Baled and ready to load

With today’s modern equipment the process is much faster than it used to be. Fields are now cut, raked, tedded, baled and stripped all in a day, or maybe two if it’s a big field. Tractors come in, stab the huge round bales and stack them on wagons, ready to be hauled away.

Roadside remnants

Roadside remnants

And then it’s over – for now – and the fields begin to grow again.

Yes, ’tis the season to make hay.

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

Victoria Day

Long Beach, Fundy Trail

Long Beach, Fundy Trail

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The weather forecast for Victoria Day indicated warmth and sunshine; perfect weather for a family trip on a long week-end. It was wrong. But, the cool breeze and overcast skies actually made for pleasant travelling, especially with a big black dog for company.

If you haven’t visited the Fundy Trail just outside St. Martins, New Brunswick, you’ve missed an amazing experience! Many years in the making, it currently extends 19km into the wilderness and will, in a couple of years, connect with Fundy National Park. There’s a roadway and numerous walking and hiking trails of varying difficulty. For those stout of heart and fleet of foot, the 42 km Fundy Footpath (for experienced outdoors people/hikers only) takes you well past where the driving parkway currently ends.

Part of the UNESCO world biosphere/ Stonehammer Geopark, it is part of one of only two geoparks in North America. Carved along the shore of the world famous Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world, the trail passes through 251 million year old rock.

We  set out early and were waiting at the gates for the 9:a.m. opening. Once inside, we drove straight to the end of the trail to visit the newly accessible Long Beach – 2.5 km of sandy beach that, at low tide, extends 500 metres onto the ocean floor of the Bay of Fundy.  Harley has never seen a beach or salt water or sea weed so this was quite an adventure for a young dog.

Joel and Harley exploring Long Beach

Joel and Harley exploring Long Beach

It’s a magnificent addition to the whole park – a great place to stop for a rest, a picnic or to explore. For me, it was a great spot to experiment with various photographs.

Long Beach at low tide

Driftwood left by the tides of the Bay of Fundy

Driftwood left by the tides of the Bay of Fundy

Picnic and parking area at Long Beach

Picnic and parking area at Long Beach

 

Looking down onto Long Beach

Looking down onto Long Beach

We stopped at some of the lookout spots along the way and spent several hours enjoying the experience. We will, without doubt, be back!

One pooped puppy at the end of our explorations!

One pooped puppy at the end of our explorations!

Our Victoria Day outing at the Fundy Trail was definitely a success.

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

Small towns – big dreams

Megan Brenan, Isaline Smyth and Aleah Soper wrapping up their big dreams of Dancing on Ice.

Megan Brenan, Isaline Smyth and Aleah Soper wrapping up their big dreams of Dancing on Ice

Canada is dotted with small towns from coast to coast to coast. And in those small towns are children with big dreams.

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In my home town the local skating club celebrated its 60th anniversary yesterday with a terrific two-hour performance featuring skaters from wee children to adults who skated with the club when they were children. Lesley Armstrong founded the Sussex Skating Club back in 1956 and the performance was dedicated to her – including the emotional presentation of a floral tribute to the lady herself who beamed with pride at seeing her own small town big dreams achieved.

Lesley Armstrong, founder of the Sussex Skating Club, watching the Alumni Skaters perform Putting on the Ritz in her honour,

Lesley Armstrong, founder of the Sussex Skating Club, watching the Alumni Skaters performing “Putting on the Ritz” in her honour

Whether those big dreams include being an athlete, an artist or anything else you can think of, people in small towns help to build those dreams one child at a time. Congratulations to the Sussex Skating Club.

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