Category Archives: seasons

Early autumn walkabout

Have you noticed? The autumn colours are peeking through, perhaps due to the extremely dry conditions, but also the season. I love to walk in the early autumn. The days are warm and the nights are cool enough to open the bedroom windows and turn off the air conditioning at last. The sun still has the strength to warm the soul.

The last of the hot air balloons flew through the other morning. Like birds migrating south, they are leaving the area seeking warmer locations for the winter season.

Every tree has at least a few leaves that are turning the brilliant colours we associate with autumn. It’s just the beginning.

Even the cheery Black-Eyed Susans have passed their peak and are beginning to wilt.

The last white rose on the bush is clinging on, making passers-by smile; a reminder that they’ll be back in profusion next spring.

As flower wilt and shrivel up bees hover near sucking up whatever nectar they can find to sustain them through the coming cold months. But for now, early autumn is a very pleasant time.

The remaining choke cherries are beginning to shrivel but they still make a tasty snack for birds fattening up for the migration south, or in preparation for sitting out the winter with the rest of us.

Wee blossoms in the ditch are fading, but still golden in the sunlight.

And high in a tree, the crab  apples are ready for raccoons and deer to snack upon.

Yes, early autumn IS the perfect time for a walkabout. The mugginess of summer has abated and the air is becoming crisp and clear. We are fortunate here in eastern Canada to enjoy four distinct seasons and the coming fall is, without doubt, my favourite.

For most people, January 1st signals the start of a new year. But for me it’s fall. Perhaps it’s because a new school year begins in September. Or perhaps it’s just because it’s invigorating after the sultry days of summer.

 

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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, Canada, New Brunswick, photography

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.

 

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Summer days are flying by!

Summer days are flying by much too quickly. Not quite two months past the summer equinox, our days are noticeably shorter, especially for those of us who tend to arise with or before sunrise. Those who’ve been enjoying long summer evenings are finding the light for their outdoor activities is disappearing quickly too.

But, it’s still warm and people are still out and about enjoying themselves with summer pursuits.

Children enjoying a dip in Bennett Lake in #FundyNationalPark

And the adult pursuits are a bit more leisurely, but no less fun for the participants.

Kayaking on Bennett Lake in #FundyNationalPark

As summer winds down into fall, the days get shorter and colder, and the kids return to school we’ll see more of this…

Relaxing in the Big Red Chairs

Also, have you noticed that the closer we get to the end of summer, the more colourful the sunsets and moonsets become?

Bright sunset August 14, 2017

Full moon sinking behind the trees.

What a summer it has been, though. It’s the warmest and dries in over 25 years, according to The Weather Network. Although the danger of forest fires remains high, and for farmers and those on wells, the worry about adequate water for growing crops, watering livestock and keeping households running is also top of mind, for others it’s been an ideal summer for vacations, visits to the beach and travelling to see family and friends.

#SaintJohn harbour in the fog

I went into Saint John this morning and did a little scouting for vantage points that might work for watching the #TallShips arrive on Friday. As I faced the harbour and the uptown area, the fog was rolling in.

#UptownSaintJohn in the morning fog

But as I turned toward West Saint John things looked a bit brighter.

The view over the Harbour Bridge toward West Saint John

And facing north, it was positively bright!

Facing the north end of Saint John

Here in New Brunswick you can experience a variety of seasons in one day – often in one location – depending on the direction you are facing! I’ll bet people were swimming in Millidgeville!

Meanwhile, back in Picadilly, this lone young buck was hoping to meet up with some ‘ladies’ early one morning a week or so ago. That’s the field they frequent when foraging for snacks.

Yes, summer is flying by quickly but it’s been a pleasure to get out and enjoy it this year.

Coming up soon? The annual Flea Market event is on for the rest of this week and then, the week-end after Labour Day it’ll be time for the annual invasion of the Balloons. They’re always fun to watch and shoot (photographically speaking of course!). I’ll be on my deck, coffee in one hand, camera in the other, to salute the official ‘end of summer’ that is the #AtlanticInternationalBalloonFiesta.

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How to capture summer memories

As the song says, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” Everyone wants to capture those elusive summer memories to sustain them through the long, cold months of winter.

Joel and Harley on the shores of the Bay of Fundy

So, how do you capture them? There’s a trite saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and in fact, it’s true. How many times have you picked up a photo album to scan through the photos of a special event or time in your life? How often have you grabbed that handful of snapshots out of the shoe box to search for that one photo that you are sure is in there. Or perhaps you’ve searched the hard drive on your computer or phone, wondering where you hid a particular shot?

If you really want to enjoy those summer memories next winter, now’s the time to get it in gear before the season winds down and autumn arrives.

First of all, keep your camera with you. Whether you are shooting with a large DSLR, a smaller point and shoot camera or your phone, have it with you. The best camera is the one that’s in your hands at the moment you see an image you want to keep!

A lot of people shoot at the lowest quality jpeg that their camera / phone will allow so they can get the greatest number of images into the memory of the device. However, when you have photos that you want to print – either individually or to put into a photo book – you need a better quality. I recommend shooting at least at the highest quality jpeg your camera allows or, if you have a DSLR, shooting in RAW to allow for the best quality in future editing. Almost any size can be printed out at 4″ x 6″ but if you want larger images or some serious wall art (say 16″ x 20″ or more) you need lots of pixels to make that work; otherwise your finished image may be blurry or ‘fuzzy’ in the details.

West Quaco Lighthouse near St. Martins, NB

Sometimes the memories you want to capture are of people and pets at a particular location. Other times those memories involve a specific site or moment in time. To recognize what it is that you have captured, try to get as close to the subject as possible. The paint chipped top of this lighthouse is much more interesting up close than it would be shot from a great distance where you might not even be able to tell that the light is actually on!

An open lily

If you are shooting photographs of your garden, try to get close to one representative flower that tells the tale of your success, rather than an indistinct mass – although those have their place too if you have a prolific display of colour to show off.

Lily bud

Sometimes it’s fun to get in really close and use a shallow depth of field to emphasize new growth and a bud about to burst forth.

Hosta flowers

 

Astilbe flower

 

Bees at work in the hostas

Once you’ve captured a variety of images that represent your summer memories, select the best and plan on having them printed and either put into albums, printed into a memory book (there are a number of places that provide this service), or be brave and choose your favourite to be printed and hung on the wall to be enjoyed year ’round.

Just a hint, but if you’re thinking wall art then, as the saying goes, “go big or stay home”. An 8″ x 10″ print is NOT wall art – it’s a good desk or tabletop display. The bigger you go, the more impressive your print will be. Far better to have one or two large prints than a mishmash of smaller ones cluttering your wall with no obvious theme or focal point.

So, go out and enjoy capturing your summer memories while the warmth and sunshine last. Happy shooting!

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A Farmer’s work is never done

Farmers work from dawn to dusk, and often much longer than that. Growing, cutting, tedding, baling and storing hay is a huge part of their lives during the summer months. The expression “make hay while the sun shines” rings true! The farmer who owns the fields around our home has a crew working from first to last light to take advantage of the respite in the wet weather we’ve had all spring and early summer.

Sunrise over the hills of Picadilly, NB

On the first day they cut. In this case, the farmer has several fields so once he gets two or three fields cut, everything rolls along like clockwork. As one field gets “tedded” (the hay raked into rows and ‘fluffed’ so it can dry in the sun), another gets baled. When the baling is done, the wagons arrive to take the string mesh wrapped bales away to the main farm where they are plastic wrapped for storage.

Let the baling begin.

It’s fascinating to watch how quickly it all happens. No time or effort is wasted.

Baled and awaiting transport to the farm

In hours the field will be totally empty and ready to start growing a second crop for the season. Some farmers are really lucky and get three cuts from their fields if the conditions are right.

It makes me think back to how hay used to be harvested. It was cut and tedded, but the balers were smaller and produced smaller, rectangular bales that later had to be hand loaded into wagons and then hand loaded into hay lofts. Before then, hay was cut either by hand with a scythe or with a mechanical mower towed by a horse or two. The loose hay was then hand forked into wagons, driven to the barn and hand forked into a loft to store for the winter. Both methods were very labour intensive compared to today’s methods with large bales handled by tractors with huge forks on the front.

A large round bale awaiting pickup.

To be honest, I’m glad our hay humping days are done. Even with the few hundred smaller square bales we handled every year to feed my horse, Beau, it was hot, sticky, itchy and exhausting work.

White lilac tree flower

My farming these days consists of watching my perennials look after themselves and planting a few colourful flower boxes on my deck railing.

My favourite flowers grow on the roadsides and in the ditches, happily looking after themselves, saving me a lot of work. They wave cheerily as we pass by.

Simple daisies looking after themselves.

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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.

 

 

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It’s summer time!

Yay, it’s summer time and, as the song says, the living is easy! Well, it’s easier.

There are lawns to mow, gardens to plant and tend, and, or course, the decorative touches around the house that make being outside a joy on a warm summer day.

Purple Petunias

I’m not sure why, but this year when I shopped for annual flowers for my five hanging baskets, the purple petunias won out over all the other offerings. Some people associate purple with sadness or loss. Not me. These flowers are prolific and so very, very cheerful on a bright summer day.

More purple flowers found their way into the whimsical horse planter on my deck railing.

Dew drops on petals – macro photo

When I stepped out the door early this morning the first thing I noticed was the collection of tiny dew drops on the delicate petals of my purple flowers. I dashed back into the house and grabbed my macro lens to take an up close and personal look at them.

Dew drops – macro 1X

The way they reflect the light and colours around them intrigues me.

dew drops on petals macro at 2X

Yes, it is summer time and, although there are chores to be done, the living IS easier and there are flowers to admire. Enjoy the warmth and sunshine when it’s available. Slow down a bit to enjoy this most fleeting of the seasons. Breathe in the scents that Mother Nature is providing – from the heady aroma of roses to the musky smells emanating from the bushes along the roadside. The smell of recently cut grass is a hallmark of the season as is the smell of clothes dried on a line outside in the sun.

The season is far too short. Pull on some comfortable clothes and venture out. It’s amazing what the warmth, sunshine, sights and scents of the season will do for your soul.

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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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