Category Archives: New Brunswick

In the garden

In the garden I could generally be described as a failure. When we first moved to our current home the lot definitely needed a little sprucing up, a few additions to brighten the space and make it feel more like a home. So, off I went to our local nursery, #SunNurseries. 

I got lots of advice and when I confessed my total lack of knowledge and or skill in terms of keeping a garden healthy and blooming, they recommended some perennial plants that (at least in theory) even I couldn’t kill (easily). I do believe they were right. That lovely white rose is from one of three double blooming rose bushes that are thriving under my (complete lack of) care. In fact, at the moment, they are covered in delightful buds just waiting to burst forth into full bloom!

The side of the garage was a rather barren looking space, so a perennial bed was created there and we planted an assortment of plants – some flowering (like a lilac bush and some black eyed susans for the fall) and some with interesting foliage (like the now humungous hostas).

To create a bit more colour around the property I added five hanging baskets on the side of our deck plus a planter on the top rail with some gorgeous purple and mauve flowers. Just because we live in a mini-home in a park doesn’t mean our environment has to be barren and dull.

 

I am no gardener, but at least I can make an attempt to brighten our environment and make our yard a pleasant place to be.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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Odes have been written to Spring

Flood waters of the St. John River near Maugerville, NB May 18, 2017

For centuries poets around the world have written odes to the beauty of spring. Spring, the re-birth of the world after a long, cold and dreary winter. Spring, the beginning of warmth and strong sunshine. Spring, the season of hope.

Beautiful blossoms

Trees of all sorts have been pushing forth their amazing blossoms, some setting fruit for the coming season.

But Mother Nature has been less than cooperative this year. The temperature outside is bitterly cold for late May. We have the heat turned on, the windows closed and I’ve dug out the heavy blankets for the bed – again.

Ever optimistic, the canopy rests on the deck, the bistro table and chairs are ready for morning coffee. The hummingbird feeder has been hung for quite a while – with only one lone, occasional visitor.

Spring? This is a cruel joke this year. Cold, heavy rains and strong winds would discourage the most optimistic of souls.

Spring? Where are you? Come back, please? And may summer follow you to warm our bodies and our souls!

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, photography, seasons, spring

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, Canada, 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, Canada, 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.

 

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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 appreciation, Autumn, BLOG, caring, death, emotions, Fall Foliage, family, photography, rural living lifestyle, seasons, writing Tagged , , |

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.

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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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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, Canada, Fall Foliage, photography, seasons Tagged , |

October denouement

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It’s the first of October, the denouement of autumn into that other season that we shall not name. Leaves on deciduous trees have been changing colour for the last few weeks and will probably peak in the next week or so.

The day began with the thunder of shotguns on this first day of bird hunting season. Ducks and geese fled overhead, quacking and honking in fear for their lives. But, as the sun rose, the hunters took respite until tonight when they’ll try again to nail those hapless birds. Truthfully I have no problem with hunting if it’s to put food on the table. I just fail to understand killing anything as sport. But that’s for another post someday.

sedum-web-copy

The sedum have flowered and changed colours from pale pink to a deep rose shade. Left untrimmed in winter their determined seed heads will be seen above the snow and those birds who spend the season here, as opposed to heading south, will feast upon them.

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Meanwhile, the hayfields have been cut for the second time and most of the bales taken away to feed the herds of cattle over the coming winter months. A few ignored or forgotten ones remain as distant trees mark the changing of the seasons. Summer is truly over.

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And the remnants of the black-eyed Susans punctuate the changes in the gardens – hanging on as long as they can until cold winds rip their shrivelled petals away from the seed heads. Like the sedum, those small black seed heads will remain until spring providing sustenance to the over-wintering birds and those returning early from their southern vacations.

October is the month of drastic change, beginning with clear and bright days with cool nights and ending by heralding the dark, damp and cold that is November. Luckily it is also the month that gives us the most brilliant of colours before the total denouement of the season.

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