Category Archives: Canada

Spontaneity is SUCH a good thing

Sometimes you have to celebrate spontaneity and just “go with the flow”.

Saturday morning, for no particular reason, Joel, Harley and I decided to go for a drive to Alma, NB, to see what there was to see.

I finally had a chance to shoot some ‘blueberry’ fields beside the road just outside the entrance to #FundyNationalPark.

Blueberry Fields Forever

Wherever you looked, on either side of the road, the red tinged leaves of the plants carpeted the fields as far as the eye could see. We weren’t the only ones stopping to admire Mother Nature’s splendour.

Once inside the park we stopped to check out Bennett Lake. Unlike the long hot days of summer, we were the only souls exploring that day. No children, no picnicking families, no couples paddling by. But the peace was palpable as we explored the shoreline.

Bennett Lake, Fundy National Park

Further inside the park we stopped beside the public swimming pool. From the parking lot you can explore the shore in either direction – toward Alma or toward St. Martins. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed every moment.

Looking toward Alma, NB

We arrived just as the tide was turning and beginning to flow back on shore.

Joel and Harley

Harley and me

Our explorations complete, we took a spin through Alma, stopping at the bake shop for sticky buns and coffee. Then, we headed home, our celebration of spontaneity complete!

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

Along the shore

Sunday morning I headed out for a trip along the shore – the shore of the Kennebecasis River and the shore of the Bay of Fundy.

Kennebecasis River at Hampton, NB

I was determined to avoid the boring 4-lane, tree-lined highways as much as possible. I wanted to see fall colours and water – lots and lots of water. My first stop as at the top of the hill on the old road between Hampton and Nauwigewaak, opposite the High-Low farm, overlooking the edge of the town  and the Pickwauket hills. There was a time when I saw this view every day of life as I traveled back and forth between home on the Kingston Peninsula and work in Saint John. That was prior to the construction of the ‘new’ highway that bypassed all possible scenic outlooks.

Once I passed Saint John I again got off the highway and traveled the shore roads as much as possible. Even there, it was hard to get close to the water except at spots where the road kissed the shore and you could actually see the bay.

On the shore of the Bay of Fundy, low tide

I passed through (among others) Chance Harbour where, at low tide with a cold wind blowing, I wondered how people living in dilapidated houses with shingles missing from their roofs kept warm. Dipper Harbour , with its piles of lobster traps neatly displayed on the shore, was so much more tidy with more apparently prosperous homes.

Dipper Harbour, NB

On through Maces Bay where the cliffs on the far shore were more obvious and seagulls hunkered down in the low tide mud flats and sea grass to keep warm while watching for lunch.

Maces Bay, NB

Meanwhile a lone fishing boat headed out into the bay.

Charlotte Co. NB

I was hoping that Lepreau Falls would provide a photographic opportunity, but with the months-long drought we’ve been experiencing, the river had all but dried up and the falls were nought but a trickle over the rocks. In St. George. though, some water was still flowing through the gorge and made for a pretty autumn image.

St. George, NB

Then it was on to St. Andrews. Since I was far too early to check in to the inn, I went exploring through the town.

One of three canons defending the town of St. Andrews, NB, outside the Blockhouse.

 

Blockhouse (fort) at St. Andrews, NB

 

Mouth of a canon in St. Andrews, NB

With the threat of invasion from the south somewhat reduced from when these installations were created, today’s visitors find more peaceful ways to view the Bay of Fundy and the shores of the state of Maine in the background.

Breakwater at St. Andrews, NB

At the other end of town there’s a rocky beach. At low tide more seagulls line up there, in the sun, to take off and keep a wary eye out for a fish or two that might become today’s meal.

Seagulls on the beach in St. Andrews, NB

Their calls are raucous and loud but totally appropriate for the moment, of course.

My exploring done, I headed off to check in to the #RossmountInn in Chamcook, just outside the town limits of #StAndrews. The main goal of my trip was to spend the night there and have dinner with a lively group of writers with whom I’d shared my trip to Ireland last spring.

Rossmount Inn, NB

It was a little too cool to take a dip in the pool, but it certainly looked inviting.

Swimming pool at the Rossmount

Others followed the winding trail to the mountain top. I didn’t make it up there, but they told me the view was spectacular and that, at one point, it had been the primary lookout for invaders approaching from the USA.

Apparently there are informative plaques along the way and the walk was well worth it, making me wish I’d gone along. The colourful foliage was still hanging on to many of the huge trees around the property, revelling in the warmth and sunshine of the late autumn day.

On a clear day like that from the front porch of the Inn you could see the Bay.

View of the Bay

Little details around the property make all the difference. The newel post on the front stairs could serve as a hitching ring for those arriving by carriage or on horseback. Unless it’s changed recently, there was a law on the books requiring hoteliers to provide stabling and hay for their guests’ horses – one I’ve always wanted to test.

All in all, my trip along the shores of rivers, streams and the famous Bay of Fundy was a good one, ending with a divine meal, good wine, good friends and much laughter.

After downing a couple of cups of coffee while huddled on the front porch of the Inn, a group of us watched the sun peek over the horizon as another week began. I packed my car and headed for home while others stayed behind to participate in another Go and Write retreat with #GerardCollins. If you like to write and want to be challenged to improve your skills, these retreat workshops are well worth the investment of both time and money.

Charlotte Co. NB

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

On the road (trip) again

Our recent road trip to Ontario began with an overnight stop in Saint Jean Port Joli, Quebec. It’s a delightful town on the banks of the St. Lawrence River about half way between Riviere du Loup and Quebec City. We found a wonderful park to explore just behind our motel, perfect for a walk with Harley.  There had been a sculpture contest a few years prior to our visit, and the resulting artwork is displayed throughout the walking trails.

Out on the wharf and breakwater there are more things to see, including a functioning lighthouse. Most of the private pleasure craft have been hauled out of the water for the season and are stored, high and dry, behind it.

Our stop in Kingston was brief so I didn’t get any photos of that area. When we arrived in Goderich, ON, however, at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s place, I kept the camera close-by. They are fortunate to live on the shores of Lake Huron – a beautiful and quaint area surrounded by miles of farming communities, much of it farmed by both Amish and Mennonite families.

Bob had to entice Harley into the lake. He wasn’t sure what it was all about but, given the intense heat, he was willing to try. Meanwhile Pat tossed a stick for Barclay to splash after in the lake.

Neither Barclay nor Harley were fans of the intense heat. He was content to have a nap in the shade in the sun room (with the curtains closed and fan running!).

Geese were gathering for their migration south but a tad confused by temperatures well above 30ºC! Is it fall or summer? Not so sure?

We explored the beach and along the shore of the lake each day.  Bob and Pat were great hosts and proud to show us around the area that they’ve grown to love and now call home.

On our second to last morning with them we headed to the beach for a sunrise breakfast. What a gorgeous way to start the day!

And, we finished off the day with a short walk on one section of the lengthy walking trail system throughout the area – one that took us across an abandoned and reclaimed railway bridge. It offered the ideal spot to shoot a sunset, check out the fish in the river leading into the lake, and watch golfers enjoying some end -of-season evening time on the course.

I was intrigued by the many colourful canoes resting on the banks of the Maitland River. The sunset over the lake was utterly lovely and I had to pause and capture the moment!

And, our visit came to an end as we headed back toward New Brunswick.

We stopped for the night in a tiny town between Kingston and Cornwall. The Johnstown Motel is, without a doubt, a hidden gem. It’s elderly, to be kind, and the rooms are small. But, the proprietors are wonderful people, the place is immaculate and the view across the St. Lawrence River through the 1000 Islands to the USA is spectacular. It is well worth a stop and I only wish we’d had more time to see what else there was to see!

I walked the river’s edge early in the morning and the reflections of clouds in the still water of the river were gorgeous.

As we loaded the car for the next leg of our journey toward home, the geese flew overhead toward their winter habitats to the south.

Although it was wonderful to see family and explore a bit of our beautiful country, it’s always good to get home as well. On our first day back from our 3500 km road trip, we got up early. Joel took Harley for a nice long (5k) walk and then we headed to the Sussex Dog Park. I captured the rising sun and Harley got to really stretch out and run. It’s good to be home again!

Harley is Happy to be Home too!

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, family, photography, sunrise, sunset 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, 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.

_DSF6066  web.jpg_DSF6069  web.jpg_DSF6071  web.jpg_DSF6072  web.jpg_DSF6078  web.jpg_DSF6080  web.jpg_DSF6082  web.jpg_DSF6091  web.jpg_DSF6096  web.jpg_DSF6098  web.jpg_DSF6100  web.jpg_DSF6103  web.jpg_DSF6110  web.jpg_DSF6113  web.jpg_DSF6130  web.jpg_DSF6138  web.jpg_DSF6144  web.jpg_DSF6166  web.jpg_DSF6167  web.jpg_DSF6168  web.jpg_DSF6169  web.jpg_DSF6170  web.jpg_DSF6171  web.jpg_DSF6172  web.jpg_DSF6173  web.jpg

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