Gorgeous mid-autumn day

What a gorgeous mid-autumn day for a drive in the country. I took the back road, the slow road, to Hampton this morning to join two friends for lunch and some ‘catch up’ time today. What a gorgeous day for it. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear blue. There was very little wind so the 0ºC didn’t feel quite as cold as it otherwise would have.

Doe, a deer, a female deer…

Just after I left home, the first thing I saw was three deer grazing in my neighbour’s hay field. Needless to say, when I stopped the car to take their photo, they were on high alert since it’s the middle hunting season. Theoretically they are close enough to human habitation to be safe from bullets, but we all know, in the excitement of the moment, some hunters might forget that small detail.

Out on the highway some creative individual(s) have built a few inukshuks. One in particular got my attention – it’s simple message being “A person was here”. It takes talent and patience to balance the stones so well to mimic the human form and remain stable. This has been there for quite some time, through the seasons and a variety of seasonal weather events as well.

Inukshuk

Once I got in to Hampton I realized I was MUCH to early to go to the restaurant, so I headed over to the Rotary Nature Park for a short walk. It was lovely in there. Even devoid of leaves, the trees provided some protection from the nippy breeze and the dried leaves on the ground warned me that there were ‘critters’ near by.

#HamptonRotaryNaturePark

Looking around I looked for the source of the crunching sounds…

Not here…

But there…

Grey squirrel with nut

He (or she) was proud of his find. Moments later a couple came walking by so the squirrel quickly climbed the nearest tree, hanging on to his treasure, and then leaped from branch to branch to take it home to his nest high up in another tree.

After watching him and his friends play for a while I headed off to #TheMatchFactoryRestaurant for lunch with my friends, Judi and Bev. Judi is Harley’s dog-mother and takes her role as honorary ‘auntie’ most seriously. With the cooler weather approaching she felt he needed to augment his wardrobe and presented him with this lovely monogrammed fall ‘coat’.

Although not sure at first, he warmed up to the idea! THANKS, Auntie Judi!

 

Posted in Autumn, BLOG, Fall Foliage, photography, seasons

And the winner is…

Seventeen people responded to my request for help in choosing an image, explaining their choices and suggestions for how the image might be most effectively used. I thank you all. Your comments were thoughtful and insightful! Two photos tied for most popular, #1 and #4 with #2 coming in a close second, #5 in third spot and poor #3 got not a single vote – but that’s ok. That’s what the game was all about.

#1 Red and White Christmas ball

This image stirred everyone’s imagination, in most cases remind them of moments from their childhood laying under the family Christmas tree looking up and fantasizing about the celebrations and gifts to come.

#4 Red and White Christmas ball

And this one tied for the honour! I think Bluette Higgins expressed it best when she said, “I like #4 the best. There’s just enough red to catch the eye, but the focus is more on texture and I like the way the indication of stripes in the branch works as counterpoint to the textures in the ball. With the blurred earth tones and blue sky; it all works together very well. A close second would go to #1 because of the interesting angle. It’s like looking up from the bottom of a Christmas tree, and the shot has a generally festive feel. I think either would work well as a Christmas card – one unconventional, the other more traditional.”

So again, I thank you all. To be utterly fair, each name was put on a slip of paper and inserted into a glass vase to be shaken (not stirred) and drawn by my hubby.

17 names in a bowl

 

And the winner is!

As soon as I get her address, her prize will be in the mail – a 2018 calendar featuring photos taken in Ireland last spring! Congratulations!

Posted in appreciation, BLOG, photography

It’s been a year

Mum and Me at her 83rd birthday party, 3 months before

Hard to believe that she passed away a year ago today. The call came shortly after 6:a.m. After two weeks in Palliative Care at the #SaintJohnRegionalHospital, Mum slipped away.

For quite a while she’d been struggling with cancer and she told us that she’d reached a point where she was tired. She wanted to wait until all of her kids made it home to say goodbye, and she did that. Bill got here from Calgary, Jerry and Bob from Ontario, and the rest of us were already around the area. She got to visit with us, several of her grandkids, nieces, nephews, siblings, spouses, cousins and friends. For a while there was a steady stream of visitors to her photo and memory-laden room – as one by one, alone or in small groups, we had a chance to share memories with her and each other and make peace with the reality of her impending death. Even so, that phone call was heart wrenching, as were the calls I then had to make to let everyone else know.

The next couple of days are a blur in my memory – visiting the funeral home with Bob and making arrangements, ordering flowers, answering phone calls and then being there for the two-day visitation. Then there was the funeral itself. Through it all there were hugs, tears and, as she would have wanted, laughter.

It took me 42 years to find her and I enjoyed 24 years getting to know my mother (and the rest of our family) before she left. I wouldn’t have missed that experience for the world. RIP Mum.

Posted in BLOG, caring, death, family Tagged , |

Choices, it’s all about choices

Sometimes I like to play with my photography but that usually ends with me having to make choices. It’s hard to decide which few photos (of many shot) to spend time editing.

Then a choice has to be made about how to use the final photo. Will one become a print? On regular paper? On canvas? Metal? Wood? Some other medium or a product like a mug or coaster or something? And if so, what? Or will it or another version be used for social media banners or a blog post highlight?

I went to the local Dollar Store today and bought a single, large Christmas ornament to play with. I roamed around the yard hanging the ornament from the branches of a blue spruce, a regular spruce, a lilac tree devoid of leaves, set among the branches of a burning bush – you get the idea. I put it anywhere I thought I could make it look interesting.

I narrowed my selection down to a few of the forty images that I shot and played with them. Now it’s down to the final ones and I need help. Have a look at the images below and let me know which one you like the best. It would really help if you could tell me WHY you made the choice you did; but if not, that’s ok. Also, any suggestions you might have about an end-use for your chosen image would be helpful too. Just leave a comment for this post with your photo selection and anything else you’d care to say!

To encourage participation, I’m offering a random surprise prize to be drawn on Friday evening from among the respondents to my ‘quiz’ – so get your answers in to have a chance to win something!

And, here are the contestants in the Choices line-up!

#1 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#2 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#3 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#4 Red and White Christmas ball

 

#5 Red and White Christmas ball

Posted in BLOG, Christmas, Christmas decor, photography, Photography techniques, seasons Tagged , |

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!

Posted in Autumn, BLOG, Canada, 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

Posted in BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography Tagged , , , , , |

Fantastic Fall Foliage

Many people concur; the fall foliage this year is among the most spectacular it’s been in several years. The reds are redder; the oranges deeper; and the golds more brilliant than ever.

Just walking around our town right now is a joy. Sidewalks are carpeted in colour.

Hay fields that are inside the town are surrounded by forests punctuated with the colours of the season.

Yes, season the fall foliage is fantastic. It’s at its peak right now so if you want to enjoy the brilliant colours, now would be the time to hit the roads and trails. The days are clear, crisp and cool; the nights are chilly; and the colourful leaves reflect the colours of the season. This is Mother Nature’s way of easing us into the season to follow.

 

 

 

Posted in Autumn, BLOG, Fall Foliage, New Brunswick, photography, seasons 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!

 

Posted in appreciation, BLOG, Canada, family, photography, sunrise, sunset Tagged , , , , , , , |

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.

 

Posted in appreciation, Autumn, BLOG, Fall Foliage, New Brunswick, photography, seasons 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!

 

Posted in accomplishments, appreciation, awards, BLOG, Canada, New Brunswick, photography, seasons