Tag Archives: violin

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.

 

Posted in BLOG, Canada, photography, seasons, summer Also tagged , , , , |

Keeping spirits bright

 

The holidays are over and keeping spirits bright through the dismal days of January and February is far from easy. For me it goes back to my vow to slow down and become more consciously creative.

I’ve played the violin since I was about three years old. I grew up in a house full of music. My mother, a former concert pianist, taught music lessons in our home. My father was a piano tuner and an accomplished pianist himself. Games consisted of listening to musical notes and learning to identify them, or the types of chords etc. I grew up studying various instruments, but the violin was my primary focus.

When I was 16 my parents bought me this violin. It has been in my then-boyfriend’s family for quite a while, fiddled upon by his grandfather. It didn’t seem to be anything special, but it had a lovely tone. Wooden, and particularly stringed, instruments mellow with age and use and the sound becomes deeper, more resonant and warm with time. Even though it hadn’t been played in decades, I could feel it the moment I first drew a bow across the strings.

That violin travelled with me through years as Concert Mistress with the then-fledgling #NewBrunswickYouthOrchestra, through a term at the #RoyalAcademyofMusic in London, England, and through my music studies at #AcadiaUniversity upon my return. Practice wasn’t hard for me; it was an emotional and creative outlet.

Then things changed. Life happened. Instead of pursuing that creative career I turned to teaching school, marriage, having and raising a son. More life happened. More career changes and suddenly I realized that literally decades had passed during which I had rarely even touched my violin.

When I met my birth mother and greatly extended family 24 years ago I learned that my grandfather was renowned as a fiddler. Who knew?

I make my living as a photographer and writer now. In planning for an upcoming creative writing workshop in Ireland this spring I talked to #Dr.GerardCollins who will be leading the event. During the past couple of years we’d become friends, frequenting the same cozy coffee shop in downtown Sussex. In the course of our conversation about the workshop, I happened to mention that, in my youth, I played the violin. He went on to say that he dabbled with the guitar and some of the other potential workshop participants also played an assortment of musical instruments, or sang or both, and that I should bone up in preparation for some inspiring musical evenings.

Challenged, I came home and dug my old violin out of the closet, tuned it up and began to play – albeit badly. But it was fun and after just a few minutes I began to feel that ‘vibe’, that connection between the violin and me. And from that was born my commitment to a year of creativity – both visually and verbally.

So, while I am playing away a little bit, I am also working on my photographic techniques, combining two of my passions – music and visual arts.

The music and this old instrument have become my bridge to greater creativity.

The sound pours out of these worn holes straight from my soul.

New pegs clash with the old wood on the scroll but were needed to hold the strings in tune.

Not unexpected in an instrument that was originally crafted in 1731 in Paris by a luthier named Gavinies. Yes, my violin really is that old!

Gavinies’ violins are reputed to boast a sweet sound, and mine does. It’s deep, and rich and mellow with a vibrance that belies its battered appearance.

Thank you, Gerard, for nudging me back to my first love – making melodies sing.

 

Posted in BLOG, photography, winter Also tagged , |