Category Archives: Canada

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, appreciation, awards, BLOG, New Brunswick, photography, seasons

A trip down memory lane

I took a trip down memory lane.

As a young girl I spent most of my summers in Wolfville, NS. My mother and I would pack up and head there as soon as school had ended for the year so I could study violin with Professor Kalejs at Acadia University all summer long. I loved those long, hot and busy summers and there was still time to play with friends, go to the beach or just be a kid for a while away from the concrete streets of Saint John.

View of the Annapolis Valley across the Minas Basin to Blomidon Mountain that evokes an “I’m Home” response.

When you’re driving toward Wolfville, there’s a point in the road, near Avonport, where you come over a hill and you can see across the Minas Basin to Blomidon Mountain. There’s just something about that spot that makes everyone who loves ‘the Valley’ pause, sigh and say “I’m home”. If you tell anyone who lives there about that, they know exactly the spot you mean – and they’ll agree.

Some of my favourite memories are of playing in the mud or shallow waters at Evangeline Beach when the tide was low. You can always see Blomidon overlooking everything.

We also spent a lot of time in what is now the Grand Pré National Park. It was a a magical place to explore as a child. Great twisted elms provided shade and shadows to play in. Beautiful and fragrant gardens overwhelmed senses long inured to the smell of auto exhaust and wet pavement.

On the Old Post Road overlooking Grand Pré

On the grounds there’s a statue of Evangeline, the romantic subject of Longfellow’s poem by the same name, on the path leading to the wee chapel that now houses the history of the area and the peoples whose histories are so closely intertwined. Visiting there today brings out a host of emotions, not all of them happy as you think about what one group did to others centuries ago.

#RedChairs

Because it’s now a National Park, you can enjoy the view from the Red Chairs that have been placed in parks across the country.

Down the road at Horton’s Landing stands this cross marking the location of the expulsion of the Acadians.

View from Ridge Road, Wolfville, NS

Meanwhile, back in Wolfville, I took a drive along the Ridge Road. If you can get on top of a hill anywhere, the views are spectacular. Vineyards have popped up everywhere enjoying the rich and fertile soil and warm, sunny days that mark summer in ‘The Valley’.

I awoke the morning after the solar eclipse with an urge to photograph sunrise from the Look Off at Blomidon Mountain. In the dark I took a wrong turn and ended up at Kingsport Beach instead, viewing a purple and orange sky across the mud at low tide.

I turned around and headed for the high ground, quickly stopping as I saw a brilliant red orb rising over the treeline behind a farmer’s field. It was amazing. I put the ‘pedal to the metal’ then to get to higher ground!

At the top of the hill the sun was still rising in the red sky. If one were superstitious, given the recent eclipse and then a red sky, that would be a truly frightening sight. For me it was just beautiful.

Once the sun rose a little higher it spread it’s warmth and light on the valley below – and another day began.

Panorama from “The Lookoff” on Blomidon Mountain, NS

I always enjoy visiting “The Valley” and the many friends I have that still live in the area. It’s wonderful to take a trip down memory lane once in a while and be reminded of one’s own history and ties to various places in this country.

 

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

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 appreciation, BLOG, New Brunswick, photography, summer Tagged , , , |

The Picture Province

Years ago Tourism New Brunswick used the slogan “Canada’s Picture Province”. Somewhere along the line that slogan was dropped in favour of several variations that essentially said nothing nor gave any reason to stop in what had become Canada’s pass-through province. Tourists on their way to Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island rush through on the lovely 4-lane Trans Canada highway and  are rarely enticed to top and see what we proudly have to offer.

I had visitors from British Columbia today. It was a pleasure to finally meet ‘new’ cousins that I’d been chatting with on Facebook but had never actually meant. Knowing that I am a keen photographer, they asked if I had any poster or prints for sale and it suddenly dawned on me that I rarely showcase those items. So, I’ve created two galleries – one featuring the Fundy Shore from Cape Enrage through Alma and to St. Martins and the Fundy Trail. The second features my home territory in Picadilly, Sussex and around Kings County and its rural lifestyle. I hope you will check out my Maritime Memories galleries for a look at a few of the reasons why this province IS indeed Canada’s Picture Province.

On the Fundy Trail

Also posted in BLOG, New Brunswick, photography 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 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 , |