Category Archives: rural living lifestyle

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, New Brunswick, photography, seasons, writing Tagged , , |

Welcome to 2014

The past several weeks have been nothing if not challenging. The weather has been abysmal with January kicking off record low temperatures of the face-freezing variety.

But, at the end of the month, the Chinese Year of the Horse begins bringing with it good fortune and happiness – something we can all use.

After two phenomenal snow falls punctuated by an ice storm, Mother Nature gave us blessed relief today – temperatures around the zero degree mark and sunshine making it feel much warmer.

But beware! She is a fickle witch! The first thing we saw on arising this morning was….

red sun rising_web _L2H1333 - Version 2

Red sky in the morning – sailor take warning!

And, being true Maritimers, we know it to be true.

red sun rising_web _L2H1331 - Version 2So, once the temperature rose Hoover, my trusty photo assistant, and I set out for a pleasant walk down Mulberry Lane (yes, it is a real place) to enjoy the respite from -40 degree temperatures, bitter winds and endless snow.

Hoover, my Photo Assistant. Will work for cookies.

Hoover, my Photo Assistant. Will work for cookies.

What we found were wonderful snow banks, acres and acres of snow stretching out to the horizon and some amazing clouds on high.

amazing clouds_web _L2H1340Local snowmobile enthusiasts have been enjoying the break in the bitter cold as well – giving their sleds a run.

Snowmobile trail.

Snowmobile trail.

But our pleasure will come to an end tomorrow. The Weather Network is predicting a serious freezing rain storm that will coat everything in ice and probably cause another province-wide (or further) power outage. Many people have only recently had their power restored after the last brutal outage that saw 80,000 homes affected and for almost two full weeks!

Many tree branches are still encased in ice - the stuff power outages are made of.

Many tree branches are still encased in ice – the stuff power outages are made of.

The one disadvantage of a canine photo assistant is that they lack a certain understanding that sometimes you just want to make an image – without playing with them. I knelt in the snowbank to catch this photo of the sun glistening off the peak of the snowdrift and Hoover decided it would be a good time to make a mad dash causing me to do a graceful face plant into the snow. Luckily I was able to hold my camera high AND there were (as far as I know) no witnesses to my graceful swan dive.

Such is life on a winter’s day in the Maritimes. Happy New Year and hold on for the Year of the Horse.

 

 

 

 

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, happiness, January, nature, New Brunswick, winter

A cool and frosty morning

Some mornings it is just totally worthwhile to get up, get dressed and get out!

When Hoover and I took our morning constitutional the full moon was setting on one side of the road while the sun was rising on the other. How utterly beautiful! It was still and quiet, the world momentarily encased in a light frost – not a single breeze blowing. And in the silence you can hear yourself think.

Full moon setting over Sussex, NB

Full moon setting over Sussex, NB

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, dawn, happy images, New Brunswick

113 years old

Mulberry Lane hayfield in the sun

Mulberry Lane hayfield in the sun

Today would have been my adopted mother’s 113th birthday. She grew up in the mountains of British Columbia near the then-tiny town of New Denver. Although she went on to be a ‘city girl’, she really never lost her appreciation for nature.

I thought of her this morning as I walked down Mulberry Lane smelling the fresh-cut hay, tedded into rows, drying in the warm sun and waiting to be baled. Imagine the things she would have seen in her lifetime between 1910 and today? It boggles the mind.

So, on this warm and sunny July 13th I wish her a very Happy Birthday!

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, Canada, family, morning, nature, New Brunswick, seasons, summer Tagged , , |

The sun shone today – finally!

The Kennebecasis Valley as seen from the road to Mt. Hebron

The Kennebecasis Valley as seen from the road to Mt. Hebron

Finally the sun shone on our small town after what seemed like eons of gray skies and rain. The excessive dampness has not been good for farmers – delaying the planting of crops and creating concern that those that did get planted may have rotted instead of germinating. Normally by now farmers would be cutting, or at least ready to cut, their hay fields for the first time but this year the fields, so far, are too wet to go on them with tractors and baling gear.

But today the sun shone. For me it was a lovely day. I began by taking a leisurely early morning drive to Mt. Hebron to work with my riding student, Zara, and her new young horse. Before I even got to their family’s farm I had to stop and capture a few shots of the scenery along the way.

Hillside Farm

Hillside Farm

As I got closer to Wild Wind Farm I passed Charlotte Ranch, a breeding facility for Standardbred (pacing) horses. One field was filled with mares and this year’s crop of foals cavorting in the warmth and sunshine.

_L2H3017 - Version 2 _L2H3059 _L2H3058 _L2H3055 - Version 2 _L2H3053 _L2H3052 _L2H3048 - Version 2 _L2H3047 - Version 2 _L2H3042 - Version 2 _L2H3040 _L2H3035 - Version 2 _L2H3021 - Version 2I’m not sure who had more fun – me watching them or them watching me.

After the lesson was complete I dropped in to the Princess Louise Park Show Centre in Sussex to take in a bit of the Morgan – Arabian – Mini combined horse show. Nice to see a variety of breeds and multiple disciplines sharing a week-end of showing.

_L2H3083 - Version 2 _L2H3087 - Version 2

Perhaps this is what they mean by “dog days of summer”? A boxer watching the action.

_L2H3081 - Version 2All in all? A good day in the sun! It totally lifts one’s spirits.

 

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, dog, horses, photography, weather Tagged , , |

Critter Bait – here come the horses

Twink - Up Close and Personal

Twink – Up Close and Personal

My friend Gina’s Miniature Palomino mare is pregnant and due within a few weeks. I thought it would be fun to capture a few shots of her “foal” belly. The problem is, when I am around dogs, cats and horses they all gravitate to me, making it really, really hard to get ‘that’ shot – you know, the one you really, really want? Uh huh.

Luckily Gina was with me and eventually lured the little mama away so I could fire off a few shots for future posterity – along with some of the proud papa, a Miniature Paint stud, the barn cat of course, the other two (full sized) horses and the dogs – oh yeah, and Gina too.

Made for a fun afternoon. Incidentally, as those of you who shoot photographs know, it’s always a good idea to shoot at eye level with your subject to get that personal connection. For the record, Miniature horses are – well – miniature. So, getting to eye level with them definitely involves getting down on one’s knees. With unerring accuracy I managed to find every single poop pile and pee spot to kneel in. But, it was worth it. They are TOO cute. And the little stud has an amazing temperament too.

Proud Papa

Proud Papa

 

Twink and ??

Twink and ??

 

 

 

Also posted in All Things Equine, animals, BLOG, cat, cats, dog, hobby farms, horse photography, horse photos, horse portraits, horses, horses hobby farms rural living lifestyle, Photography techniques, rural living Tagged , |

A bit of heaven in southern Maine –

Pulling into the driveway of a charming old stone castle-like home in southern Maine, I had no idea what to expect from a place that had been billed as a ‘horse rescue farm’ by the friends who introduced it to me. I saw lovely stables, befitting the old-world charm of the ‘country estate’ (to call it a ‘farm’ seems a bit of an understatement) and assumed the owners’ horses resided there.

Wrong.

Every inhabitant had been rescued and came with stories of abuse and neglect. Today they receive good care, a healthy diet, veterinary and farrier care, turnout and lots of love and attention.

Stonehouse Farm is a work in progress. Just this summer a new arbor was built and lush gardens are beginning to fill in the walls on this 100+ foot long path complete with crystal chandeliers and stone statuary – everywhere.

Manmade ponds are under development and you can rest in a small gazebo, with yet another set of chandeliers, while listening to the trickling water flow between them.

Bridle paths are being cut into the 50+ acre property and here and there small patios, with more statuary, have been strategically placed bringing to mind a buddhist retreat.

Even the elusive barn cat is a rescue kitty – now well looked after but still frightened of all humans.

Meanwhile, the new stable inhabitants have learned that visitors usually mean treats or a head scratch or maybe even a walk or ride in the cool of the evening.

 

Trust is building again.

The owners, Milena and Erik Banks, are ex-pat New Yorkers. After 9-11 they made the decision to create a simpler life and, after a stint in Connecticut, headed further north to Maine. Milena said, “The horses have their forever home here. We took on numerous sheep, six cats, up to 14 dogs at one time, although now there are only 11. We took in an abandoned rate who ate and lived with the chickens till he died of cancer. We have a rescue quail too. Three of the geese are rescues.

“We thought, after 9-11, that we wanted to give something back to the animals in the world. Seeing the billowing smoke from the towers changed our lives.”

And they, in turn, are changing others’ lives, one critter at a time.

Also posted in accomplishments, All Things Equine, animals, appreciation, BLOG, caring, cat, charity, friend, hobby farms, horse photography, horse photos, horse portraits, horses hobby farms rural living lifestyle, lessons, lifestyle Tagged , , , , |

Neutering North America

Sunflowers

 

I spent six hours yesterday driving from Picadilly, NB to Augusta, ME, the majority of it on four lane highways. Truthfully, if it weren’t for the exit signs, I couldn’t have told you where I was, or even if I was in Canada or the USA!

Why?

Because big highways or interstate highways are designed to move large volumes of traffic quickly from point A to point B with little thought to the surroundings being passed.

This morning I decided to explore some of the roads less traveled on my way to meet up with my friend Lauren Blackwell at her brother’s place in Richmond,

Driving in the rain through the dark awning created by the intertwined branches of roadside trees I could easily understand what might have inspired Stephen King’s more frightening scenes. The roads twist and turn and you can’t see what is around the next bend. Hidden driveways lurk beneath many of the overhangs, twisting away into someone’s yard, I assume.

The small town of Richmond exudes charm, if not wealth. A few small shops populate its main street and a charming public park, complete with free public wifi, gives everyone access to the rivers, one for boating, one for the river of information on the internet. Two men launched their boats and, after a short and friendly conversation, started their motors and sailed off in different directions.

Three young girls amused themselves by jumping off the boat dock into the river water, screaming from the shock of the cold water, and then laughing hysterically, having a great time on a now-cloudy Saturday afternoon,

An elderly couple drove their van down to the dock’s edge, windows open, to chat, enjoy their ice cream cones and the time together,

Such is real life off the beaten track!

Also posted in community, opinion, rural living, Tourism, Travel Tagged , , |

Gratitude

Sunrise over Mulberry Lane

Sometimes the best camera in the world is the one you have with you at any given moment. This morning, Hoover and I were out for our early morning constitutional when we saw the sun rising quickly over the distant hills burning through the mist that enshrouded the hills, fields and trees. It was so beautiful we had to stop and admire the moment, and capture it, albeit clumsily, on my iPhone camera. Hardly a work of art, but a pleasant reminder of a moment in time for which I am truly grateful.

I turned around to see what else was being lit by the rising orb and on the opposite hilltop I saw…

Michelle Hodgson’s farm, Ben Adhem Arabians, being warmed by the golden glow.

I love early mornings, even though now the air is distinctly cooler, the sun is rising later and later, the days are getting shorter and summer is rapidly declining into fall.

Some days just make you glad to be alive!

Also posted in appreciation, Canada, dawn, New Brunswick, photography, seasons, Uncategorized

Well worth the walk

Panoramic View from The Bluffs above the Waterford Valley near Sussex, NB, Canada - a six-shot, hand held panoramic.

Early this morning I set off with three friends for a hike up to the bluffs above the Waterford Valley. It’s about a half-hour walk, uphill most of the way. But we intrepid hikers, armed with cameras, water bottles and fruit had no problems.

The view up there is phenomenal. It was my first foray to the bluffs and it was most definitely worth it. Although it was a hot and muggy morning, up on the hill top the breeze was quite strong, keeping us relatively comfortable.

We all took several photographs and then enjoyed a quick snack before beginning the descent back to the cars.

What a wonderful way to spend a sunny Saturday morning enjoying the beauty that is all around us, even at home.

Also posted in accomplishments, appreciation, day tripping, farming, lifestyle, morning, nature, New Brunswick, photography, relaxing, rural living, seasons, time off, walking, weather, writing