Category Archives: Canada

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.

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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.

 

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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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We remember

We Remember

We Remember

For an hour before the actual ceremonies began people from Sussex and the surrounding areas began to gather at the Cenotaph on Broad St. to proclaim “We Remember!”

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They walked, they rode bicycles, infants were carried and toddlers rode in strollers. Some hobbled up in walkers, other arrived in unique vehicles. But they came. Hundreds of them, filling the boulevard outside the Regimental Museum.

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_DSF1937From the very young to the very old, the silence at 11 o’clock was deafening – not a murmur, not a cry. Just profound respect for those who’d made the ultimate sacrifice so we would have the opportunity to gather in public without fear.

_DSF1935When people ask whether or not today’s youth understand and respect the tradition and the meaning of Remembrance Day you really only need to look through the crowd that gathered in Sussex to give a resounding ‘Yes’ in answer to that question.

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As far as the eye could see, people stood shoulder to shoulder to pay their respects together. Along the surrounding streets there wasn’t an empty parking space. Despite a slight chill in the air and a fresh breeze, they stood, silent, watching and listening as prayers were offered and wreaths were laid. All joined in for the singing of our national anthem and it felt good.

Here in Sussex we do, indeed remember.

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Mother Nature’s Fiery Paintbrush

From a hill overlooking the Kennebecasis Valley

From a hill overlooking the Kennebecasis Valley

I went for a drive this morning, under grey and cloudy skies, looking for evidence of Mother Nature’s Fiery Paintbrush – and there it was, everywhere. I suspect that this Thanksgiving Week-end is probably the peak of the season as the leaves hold on the trees seems to be tenuous. A brisk windstorm could easily detach them and send them plummeting earthward to create a carpet of colour before decaying into mush beneath my feet.

Cemetery road in Norton, NB

Cemetery road in Norton, NB

Driving into Norton I couldn’t help but notice this road going uphill into the Catholic cemetery. Only some of the trees had changed, but those that had were spectacular.

You don't see these bright orange colours in the west.

You don’t see these bright orange colours in the west.

October has always been my favourite month, no doubt due to the brilliant colours, usually warm and sunny days and cool nights. Sadly it portends what will follow, but until it does, please join me in my enjoyment of the simple pleasures and the artwork created by Mother Nature’s Fiery Paintbrush.

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

Justin Trudeau came to town…

_L2H8413 - Version 2webLate yesterday afternoon Liberal party leader, Justin Trudeau, came to town. According to many in the crowd of on-lookers and supporters, it was the first time in anyone’s memory that a national party leader and/or Prime Minister had graced Sussex with his/her presence. People of all ages – from babes in arms to the very elderly – came to see the man they’d heard so much about.

And, he didn’t disappoint. His remarks were casual, enthusiastic and stirred the emotions of the excited crowd. His interactions with individuals in the crowd, both before and after his speech, were casual and comfortable. He paused for photos with excited children and shook hands with many others.

It was interesting, from a political point of view, that he took the time from a frantically busy schedule, to come to a rally in support of the local Fundy Royal riding Liberal candidate, Alaina Lockhart. Perhaps a few uncommitted voters were in the crowd and decided to support the party and its local candidate as a result, ousting local long-time incumbent from the ‘other party’.

Alaina Lockhart, Liberal party candidate in the riding of Fundy Royal

Alaina Lockhart, Liberal party candidate in the riding of Fundy Royal

Lockhart introduced Trudeau with warmth and enthusiasm and he reciprocated in kind.

Justin Trudeau, leader of the federal Liberal Party, greeting supporters in Sussex, NB

Justin Trudeau, leader of the federal Liberal Party, greeting supporters in Sussex, NB

And, he spoke from the heart.

#JustinTrudeau

#JustinTrudeau

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One thing that really surprised (and disappointed) me was the lack of knowledge that many of the national media representatives displayed about the Town of Sussex and the general area. As I stood with the cameramen and photographers on a platform raised above the heads of the crowd, so we could see to take photos etc., one man asked if I was local. I said yes  and so he began asking questions. He said he’d noticed a lot of cows in fields on the drive from Fredericton to Sussex so he assumed it it was a farming area. Duh. Yep.

I asked him if he’d seen the Bay of Fundy and he said no, although he’d heard about the high tides. Sigh. I suggested he check out my post about the highest tides in 18 years.

But other than that, it was a terrific event and very well attended. If you missed it, you missed a great opportunity.

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