Sunday, May 24, 2020

The homework assignment

Weekly face-time chats and laughter with chums Sara and Kelly has been a real tonic during these unusual times.

After our "chats" I always feel better.    All that laughing really gives me an endorphin hit.

And now for something completely different we've added homework to our weekly agenda.

Kelly when next we chat will be presenting a design of a new section of her garden; Sara a newly taken insect photo.  Me a report on "See(ing) ruins".

These are ruins that I've been looking for for ages.  I learned about them first through a FB group on abandoned places in Nova Scotia.  Kelly and Sara and I went looking for them once.  We must have been close but couldn't find the ruins despite rambling around in circles for ages through the woods. 

Now thanks to the twinning expansion of highway 103 the ruins not only are easy to find, they are in danger of disappearing.  They are high atop a hill.  The land between the stone house and the highway is to be blasted and brought down to road level.  Current thought is that the act of blasting will create enough of a vibration to cause the house to fall down.

Today I set off to do my homework and find those ruins.  I spotted a couple of cars pulled off to the side of the highway, and joined them.

See my little blue car parked way down there ?

A well worn path snaked up the hill.  The trees had been cut right up to the door.

I wasn't the only visitor.  

Originally named "Bonavista Lodge", the beach-stone cottage tucked into the woods near Exit 6 at Hubbards was built around 1926 by George Guilford Harnish.  The getaway was named for its stunning panoramic view of Fox Point Lake in the distance.

The remote compound, consisting of the main stone building as well as a "maid's quarters" and wooden bunk houses -- enough space to sleep eight to 10 people.  But it functioned more as a "man cave" than a family cottage, where the owner would invite his friends to stay for hunting and fishing trips led by local guides.

A FaceBook group created to protect the future of the stone house: "Save the Simms settlement stone house" warns against visiting the ruins, though there is no signage to that effect there at the moment.

I'm glad I went when I did, though I'm not sure I could have stayed away even if I knew.


Hope the girls will give me a good mark on my homework.


Friday, April 10, 2020

If I wasn't here where would I be ?

I love exploring this glorious little province; you all are well aware of that.  But winter weather, a minor health scare, an ill-timed trip to Ontario and Covid-19 have all conspired to keep my wheels parked in the driveway for a very long time.

The last time I filled my car it was around $1.20 a litre; when I filled it two days ago it was .66 a litre !

So much has changed.

Daily I'd be off driving to one store or another and the dogs would be in the car with me.  They'd just chill and travel around until I settled on a good place for a walk: Sandy Lake, the Sackville trails, Webber Falls, and so many wonderful places.

Every week or so I'd go somewhere a bit farther afield.

Now like many, I am shopping only once a week; at 7 bloody a.m. do you mind !  And otherwise am told to not go anywhere that I cannot walk to.  That means no driving to parks or beaches. Besides they're all closed and fines of over $600 are being issued to those caught flaunting the rules.

But by following the rules and "staying the BLAZES at home!" as our Premier so eloquently and angrily put it, I hope to live to explore another day.   

Initially this post was going to be full of images of places I've explored in the past.  Rather than showing you where I cannot go at the moment, I'll show you where I've been lately.

Within walking distance of my home I've found a lovely wooded area on the Sackville River.

The dogs and I head onto one of several different trails daily.

A bit of scrambling gets me to this breath-taking view.

On a chilly day the valley is warmer as it's somewhat protected.

The beavers that made this pond seem to have moved on.

My companions and I are really very lucky.

I hope you are finding places to walk and new things to do during these "interesting times".

Stay well.  

Stay safe.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Garden dreams ...

Quite UNsurprisingly enough, on-line seed suppliers are having trouble keeping up with orders this Spring. I totally get that.  I find comfort in dreaming about gardening and I am sure I am not alone.

Year after year my garden expands.

In anticipation of Covid-19 looming large in our lives for the next few months, many of us are looking forward to digging in the dirt; doing something productive while trapped at home.  That growing things care not a whit for Covid is marvellous.  It's like thumbing our nose at the virus and saying "life goes on.  You cannot stop my garden from blooming".

Thinking that perhaps you are feeling the same, here are some cheery garden pics to warm the cockles of your house-bound chilly Canadian hearts.  If however, you live in England or the U.S. or even warmer climes where it's already warmer, think of me still stuck inside while you enjoy the advancing season.

A thriving garden like that in the image above is four months away for us in Nova Scotia; but the planning can begin now.  Seeds can be started indoors.  Cold weather plants like peas can be planted out as soon as the ground is diggable.

Gardening is such a hopeful thing to do.  

When I'm out puttering in the garden my mind empties of stressful thoughts.  Does it do that for you too ?

I am at peace.

Looking at images of veggies and mosses and flowers on a cold soggy April day, helps me hang on until the arrival of the warm, Earthy-smelling days that are waiting in the wings.

In this scary time of Covid-19, our gardens give us hope that things will be better again.  Perhaps not as soon as we like but hopefully before the raspberries ripen.

Happy garden dreams everyone.
And in the mean time, stay safe.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

I'm not sure where to start ...

A lot has happened since I last prattled at you; like a couple of mini strokes and an ill-timed visit to Toronto.

And now like most of you I am staying at home and only walking in the neighbourhood.  I really miss exploring the many wonderful trails here in Nova Scotia; but we've been told that if we have to drive to a trail -- it's too far away.

Spring is famous for being late here.  We can't plant most things until late May !  So I've ordered a seed catalogue and a plastic greenhouse to help me get through until then.

My trip to Toronto had been booked some months ago to coincide with my 70th birthday.  When I left Halifax on March 12 Covid was just being spoken of but within a day of my arriving things as you know accelerated exponentially.  Rather than staying with family in Toronto I ended up in Peterborough.  

Gifts from Sandy
The surprise party list

My friend Sandy had arranged a surprise birthday party for me; which for obvious reasons never happened.

During my stay at |Sandy's, things switched up from good night hugs to a parting "namaste".

My brother drove down from Ottawa and it was so difficult not to hug and kiss him.  Things were in a state of flux and we had a breakfast at the local Holiday Inn where we were the only customers.  The next day the restaurant closed entirely.

My chum Pat took me to visit her horse Babe.

I managed to hook up with friends Sue and Julie in Peterborough.  Social distancing was just starting to be mentioned and I'm retroactively concerned that we stood so close together.

Things changed daily at an alarming rate.

I was due to fly back to Halifax on Thursday March 19.  As things ratcheted up I thought it would be better if I went home sooner; so I went on-line and for $178 changed my return flight to Wednesday.  Three hours after changing my flight I got an email from Porter Airlines.  The subject line was a real eye-catcher.  It read:  "RETURN HOME IMMEDIATELY" !

I'd arrived on Thursday the 12th and here it was Monday the 16th and I once more switched my return flight only this time to the very next day, my birthday, Tuesday March 17.  It was interesting to change a flight and have no dollar figures showing for flights.

I'm glad I was flying on Porter which does not fly into Toronto International but rather into the small Toronto Island Airport called Billy Bishop Airport.

I bought a bus ticket from Peterborough to Toronto but my sweet nephew Keith insisted on driving to Peterborough to pick me up and drive me back to the city.

A tunnel connects the island airport to the mainland.  This is that tunnel at mid-day on the 17th.

I love to fly.   It is quite magical.  We often take it for granted.  I am riveted to my window, marvelling at the view below.   The island airport from which we had just taken off, is at the middle left in this photo.

I quickly discovered that when I looked at the plane's propeller on my phone's camera screen,  fascinating illusions appeared.  

Propeller "flying off"
"Melting" propellers
I've seen car tires in commercials that seem to be turning backwards.  I would guess the illusions we see here have to do with the speed of the props VS the speed of the film, with the added factor of the curve of the window pane.

To my eyes the pops were spinning so fast  as to be invisible. But on the camera screen they stopped.  Sometimes a prop would seem to be missing or even "flying off".  It was highly entertaining.

There should be SIX props.  

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon ?

Our shadow chasing us.
My birthday lunch. White wine and kettle chips at 25,000 feet !

Mystery lake. I'd love to follow a super-detailed map as we're flying so I can track our progress.

Been home over a week and roaring boredom has convinced me to write a blog about my recent doings.

About the TISs or mini strokes, thanks to our health care system I had a catscan and MRI and am on meds to control high blood pressure.

Now if something could be done to forward spring so I can go out and play in the dirt.

Stay well my friends.  Maintain social distances and do not go out unless absolutely necessary.

Sending you virtual hugs.

If you get a chance, let me know how you are amusing yourself in these interesting times.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A bleak and barren place.

I went for a chilly walk today with my friend Mickie and her dog, Remi.

The words that immediately come to mind to describe the scenery are "bleak" and "barren".   

In the dictionary, bleak is defined as "lacking vegetation and exposed to the elements", while barren is "(of land) too poor to produce much or any vegetation".   

And yet I use these two words come together to describe a place of incredible beauty; the High Head trail beside the Atlantic Ocean.

The land is covered in erratic rocks; those that have been left behind by the receding glaciers.

Vegetation is sparce and low to the ground as it has to cope with the high winds and salty sea spray.

A storm passing by,  far out at sea was the cause of some pretty impressive waves crashing onto shore.

The ocean rushes in and out like some gigantic breathing entity.  In and out.  In and out with great roaring power.

 Never fear, Mickie used a zoom setting when she took this shot of me and the dogs and the waves were not as close to us as they appear to be.

Between the foamy waves and the snow covered rocks sometimes it was hard to tell where the land stops and the sea begins.

Aren't bleak and barren beautiful !

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Rainbow Haven in winter.

Today the dogs and I headed to Rainbow Haven, that is after I checked the tide times.

Being on the Atlantic side it is not dangerous to get tide times wrong; it just means that you may be disappointed by the total lack of beach.  I learned that low tide was to be at 12:30 so I knew that by arriving at 1 ish there would be lots of beach, and I wasn't disappointed.

The beach is quite different in winter with blocks of ice that have been pushed up to the high tide mark.

Frozen in time the waves lie rigid on the shore.

 Not just bigger waves, but little ones were also stopped in their tracks too.

How remarkable is this ?   Frozen bubbles !

Of course I wasn't walking alone.    My best buds were with me.  I think Sooki looks particularly dignified in this photo; which isn't easy considering the crazy outfit she's wearing.

And of course they were glad to have a huge expanse of beach to run on. 

In a couple of hours this whole area would be under water.

In the summer we'd walk up the beach and then circle back down on the path that runs up the peninsula which juts into the harbour.

Compare the photo above with the one below.  Both images were taken at just about the same spot.

It would appear that even more of the land is being covered at high tide.  The land to the right of the path is covered by ice.

And in the foreground was an interesting ice formation with layered slivers of ice.  Of course I just had to taste a piece to confirm it contained salt.  And yep, it did.  

Wouldn't you ?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Good grief, I'm an arse !

Yesterday we went for a walk at Sandy Lake.   I wanted to walk to Jack Lake to see if the trail to the boardwalk there was reachable.   Sadly it was not, due to accumulated snow and bent trees blocking the path.

I thought a wander in the woods might be nice.   

I call it "bushwhacking"; wandering off trail through the woods to see what I can see.  

I came across another hiker and her dogs and together we  followed an orange flagged trail through the woods.  At one point a second marked trail veered off to the left and impulsively I took it.  The other hiker clearly was worried about my choice and asked me what sort of car I drove.  I guess she wanted to check if my car was still there when she got back.

The trouble with me is I'm overly confident in my sense of direction; far too confident in retrospect.

I was sure that that trail would get me out of the woods well ahead of the other hiker.  

I followed the trail until it came out on a wider rather familiar looking trail.  Instead of forging ahead in a direct line, I had blundered in a circle and come out on my original trail !

At this point you must be asking if I'd turned on my Geo tracker and the answer is "yes".  It was the tracker that showed me I was almost back where I'd started.  

So I went back into the woods.  Oddly enough when I came to a cross trail I would again rely on my unerring sense of direction and not check my Geo tracker until I'd slogged down the path for ten minutes and finding I was once more going the wrong way.

At one point in the woods I found a set of tracks and happily followed them for a while before realizing that they were my own.

Being lost wouldn't have been a big deal except that darkness was falling as it does after four o'clock in winter.

My tracker showed me where I was parked so I could see the general direction of my car but I didn't want to keep stopping to check the tracker as light was fading and my worry was rising.  I would think I saw a path ahead only to find it was a stream cutting across the woods.  I was entirely off trail and in deep woods.

I could relate to the irrational feeling of panic that causes lost people to make poor decisions.

Ultimately I reached my car at five o'clock.  I'd been walking for three hours and we'd covered five km.

Like I said, I'm an arse !