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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Perhaps it’s because there are so many foggy days in springtime in Nova Scotia that each blue sky is considered extraordinary.  We can’t take any for granted and each one is a wonder unto itself.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reflected in the water, skies here make an impression both above and below the horizon line.  Some days, the blue is mixed with grey, some days with pink.

The sky is one whole, the water another; and between those two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness.
~ Henryk Sienkiewicz

Right after taking the above photograph at dawn, I saw a young couple still in graduation dance attire drive by.   Going to the beach at dawn to see the sun rise seemed like a fitting end to an already memorable day.

We all see something different when we look at the sky, projecting onto it our feelings of either loneliness, sadness, joy or contentment.  Some of us look to the sky and dream hopeful dreams while others feel the weight of regrets and mourn past losses.   Regardless of the land-, sea- or sky-scape, nothing matters as much as our point of view.

The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.

~ Edna St.Vincent Millay

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Trees and shrubs are blossoming in yards, orchards and even in the marsh.  It’s blossoming time in Nova Scotia.  The air seems enchanted as delicate white and pink petals are blown in the wind.  The time to enjoy them is now. 

Chokecherry blossoms are blooming in the woods and near the marsh. 

Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.
~ Ikkyu Sojun

The flowers of Elder trees are nearing the end of their blooming time.  By Midsummer’s Eve, their green fruit will already be visible. 

Serviceberry, also known as shadbush, are among the first of the trees to blossom.  Their delicate flowers have already been blown off many of the trees near the marsh.

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin

Pin cherry blossoms are not as showy as most of the other blooms.  Their tiny fruit will be appreciated by the birds later this summer.

The crabapple tree is blossoming next to the house.  I always wonder where the pinks of the buds go once the white flowers open.  This tree seems to bloom for such a short time.  The strong winds we’ve experienced over the past day have blown so many of the petals off the trees.  Blossoming time will soon be over. 

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Like a golden eye, the sun rises above the horizon.  Summer is still almost a month away, but already the warm sunshine is drawing crowds to the beach to bask in its glow at midday.   Victoria Day traffic near Rainbow Haven Provincial Park was crazy enough.  What will it be like by Canada Day? 

Places where the sea meets the sky refresh the spirit and provide an escape from the worries of the world.  The appeal is universal.  Some of us just prefer to avoid the crowds and take our refreshment earlier in the day than others. 

Whether on the sea, a lake or in the marsh, sparkling waters make it easy to forget the busy world that’s left behind.  The sound of waves lapping on the shore quenches our thirst for calm.

Last year, summer in Nova Scotia was dismal and short.  Could this year’s beautiful spring be a promise of a splendid summer ahead?  For now, it’s enough to enjoy the days just one by one, making the most of each opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun on one’s face and happily squint one’s eyes while gazing at sparkling waters.

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.
~ Celia Thaxter

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Spring sunlight bounces off the fog and onto the sea as the spruce trees watch in awe.  Light shows like this don’t happen every day.  In the woods, light is filtering through the mist and trees, putting on a spectacle of a different kind.

Beams of light are descending onto the forest floor further down the path.  Light shining through mist or trees in a forest can often appear otherworldly or heaven-sent.  This is especially so if the rays of light are separated from one another.  It’s no wonder that walking towards such a light is often used as a metaphor for attaining a peaceful presence in the next life.  

Spring:  An experience in immortality.

~ Henry David Thoreau

In the marsh, spring light is putting its mark on every surface. Nothing is so fine it can escape its touch.

Even colors are affected. Greens appear fresher and more full of life.   Pinks seem more tender and delicate.   Even the sky seems a kinder blue.  Nature is lighter and human nature can’t help but respond with a feeling of hope that at least for today, all things are possible. 

It’s amazing how spring light can so transform the world.

The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.

~ Edwin Way Teale

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Nova Scotia’s woods beckon in May.  They coax you outdoors and do their best to keep you engaged.  Apple blossoms call out for your undivided attention as you walk along the path.  ‘Look at us know’ they tell you, ‘we won’t be in bloom for long.’

Farther off the beaten path, bog rhodora wave at you in the breeze to come have a closer look at their petals.  Their delicate beauty is short-lived too. 

The soft white blooms of elderberry trees wink at you from a corner of the woods where mountain ash are also thriving.  These elegant trees have cropped up in large numbers since Hurricane Juan downed most of the large firs and spruce.  The lacy elderberry flowers wish to be noticed now too before they must give way to the berries.  

Down by the seashore, the story is different.  The whispers of the woods are drowned out by the ongoing moan of the ocean.  The seaweeds sway with the current below the surface but remain silent.  They want to be left alone in their muted sadness.  Only the waves seem to relentlessly rush to the shore. Are they finding comfort among the rocks that are waiting for them there?

Whether large or small, the rocks have become rounded stones, worn out from listening to the waves’ endless refrain of sadness hour after hour, year after year, age after age. 

The woods are never solitary–they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity.

~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

~ Edna St, Vincent Millay

The beautiful, the tender, the kind, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.  They represent to us the best that we have to offer one another.   Certainly among their ranks was navy diver Craig Blake, who was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb on May 3rd.  He was only 37 years old.  His funeral is today at Shearwater.

This past weekend I walked through Bowes Cemetery with my grandson.  The sun was shining, birds were singing in the spruce trees and tiny bluets were blooming everywhere in the grass. 

Together we read the names on the headstones and talked about those whose lives had ended:  some in infancy, some in childhood and many in young adulthood.  To die at any age brings sadness, but this is especially so when someone’s lifespan has not yet reached half a century.  It’s also especially sad when someone’s life ends in the spring of the year, when all of nature is busy renewing itself and creating new life. 

Goodbye my friend it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky
Now that the spring is in the air…
With the flowers everywhere
I wish that we could both be there.

~ Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun

And blue has never been bluer
True has never been truer
Honey never tasted so sweet
There’s a song in the breeze
A million voices in praise

A rose has never smelled redder
The sun has never been brighter
If I could find the right words to say
If you could look at my face
If you could just see this place
You wouldn’t cry for me today
You wouldn’t cry for me today

~ Mandisa, You Wouldn’t Cry

 

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Have you seen the Green Man? His tracks are everywhere these days…  in the yard, in the woods and around the salt marsh.  He’s been busy engaged in activities that are too often attributed to Mother Nature.

From the trail I can see where he’s been doing his business in the woods, carpeting the forest floor.

Even areas with standing dead wood seem to come to life with him around.

The Green Man has been laboring in secret for thousands of years.  Besides greenery, his signature work includes flowers like forget-me-nots that are frequently found growing out of bounds.

Through the ages, he’s been known by many titles, among them Pan, Silvanus, the Wild Man, Skanda and the Green Knight.  But Mystery’s always his middle name.  He’s busy wherever it’s spring and summer on the planet, spreading his seed and encouraging unbridled growth.  His drawn, painted, or  sculptured image is found worldwide in various cultures dating back to ancient times.  His face is often covered with leaves.

Though you may not get to see him in person, you’re probably familiar with his work.  It speaks to all of us who are looking for a rebirth of the spirit (and the garden) at this time of year.

For more information about the Green Man, see Wikipedia’s entry.

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The sun is rising.  Quick!  Come down to the sea to witness the dawn of day.  Birds are already calling out to one another and singing their wake-up songs.

A male pheasant crows from beyond the alder bushes.  Sparrows are already in flight across the path to the shore.

The view of the sky and ocean open up just beyond the spruce trees.  It’s not far now to the rocks and stones below.

From the shore, the view is clear across the water.  The sun is being coy and staying out of sight behind the clouds.  The tide is neither high nor low, half revealing the wave smoothed rock where mermaids arrange their hair in warmer weather.

Waves pound the beach as the sky begins to darken.  Rain is on its way.  The sunrise show is coming to an end.

There’s time for just one last glance at the dawn from behind the mermaid rock.  The mermaids will soon be migrating back to our northern waters for the summer months.  Perhaps we’ll spot one this year as she sits on the rock, looking out to sea at dawn.  You never know what you’ll find along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic shore.

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The first wildflowers to bloom in Nova Scotia every spring are often mistaken for dandelions.  Coltsfoot has small yellow flowers that will appear along the roadside and in moist waste areas as early as March.  Their appearance usually coincides with first sightings of robins and pussywillows.

Non-natives, they were introduced to North America from Europe and are presently widespread across the Eastern Seaboard.  In Europe, their image has sometimes been used as a logo for apothecaries (pharmacies).  The blooms, stems and leaves have been regarded for millennia as a helpful medicinal herb.

Coltsfoot blooms appear long before the leaves.  Once the blooms die away, large hoof-shaped leaves emerge.    Dried leaves from last season can be seen in the image below.  In summer, the leaves are usually a dark green with a velvety white underside.

Like dandelions, coltsfoot blooms close at night and on overcast days.  Their closure often acts as a bioindicator for predicting rain.

Dried coltsfoot leaves have been smoked as a tobacco for relief of asthma and bronchial infections.    As a cough remedy, they’ve also been steeped as a tea.  Recent scientific research indicates that coltsfoot causes toxicity in the livers of rats.  Whether it’s considered a remedy or a poison is likely dependent on dosage.

Downy coltsfoot blooms that have gone to seed are used by goldfinches as a lining for their nests.

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As a child I often got into trouble for playing in the streams of water that appeared in springtime in the lane next to our home.  I loved re-directing the rivulets, making dams and watching sticks being carried along the stream’s path. 

However, as an adult, I’ve repeatedly told little ones to stop playing in the ditches that separate properties from the road throughout the Cow Bay area. Springtime waters are a magnet for young explorers. 

Ditches fill with snow in winter, are dry in summer, and usually hold streams of water in spring and fall when there is more rain.  It’s always a nice surprise to catch a glimpse of ducks swimming in them.

Not far from my home, the Cow Bay River always seems to attract more activity in springtime when rains and melting snow increase the water level.  Gaspereau fish attract the attention of both Ospreys and fishermen at some point during the spring as well.

The Cow Bay River empties into the watershed area behind Silver Sands Beach where it eventually meets up with the waters of the Atlantic.

I’ve panned for gold along the river, as have others over the years.  I didn’t discover any gold, but did share a wonderful afternoon with a friend in a peaceful outdoor setting.

You don’t have to play in spring streams up to your knees in order to enjoy the waters of March.  Just the sound of running water and the sight of sunlight sparkles on its surface can do wonders to enhance a walk in the woods or the neighborhood in springtime.

And the riverbank talks
Of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life
In your heart, in your heart.

~ Antonios Carlos Jobim

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Three species of spruce trees are found in Nova Scotia: white, red and black. All three types grow around Flandrum Hill.  Tolerant of shade, they’re often found in stands together along with balsam fir, yellow birch and sugar maple.

All are shallow-rooted and susceptible to being toppled by strong winds. The black spruce can be especially top heavy and is best left growing in a stand in order to remain windfirm.

Ripe cones of all three are closed and leathery during wet weather, and open and hard when it’s dry.

White spruce often has a whitish cast to its green or bluish-green needles. Bark is light greyish-brown. Its cones are the longest of the three types, usually up to 2 inches in length.  Green at first, they turn brown in autumn and fall off the tree in winter.

Red spruce growth is confined to Eastern Canada.  It is Nova Scotia’s provincial tree. Needles are yellowish-green. Bark is light reddish-brown. Red spruce can interbreed with black spruce, sometimes making identification between the two difficult.  Cones fall off the tree either in winter or the following spring.

Black spruce have blunt tipped needles that are the shortest of the three (1/2″ long).  These trees are often stunted in growth when situated on boggy soil.  Bark can be greyish to reddish brown.   Their cones are egg-shaped and can stay on the tree for years.  They can be extremely hard and difficult to open.  Individual seeds are black.

The ability to grow new trees by rooting lower branches in wet moss is unique to black spruce. 

Some diseases and pests have a tendency to prefer one type of spruce over another.  It’s best to keep a diversity of trees on your lot, should one species of tree be affected. 

References:  Native Trees of Canada by R.C. Hosie and Trees of Nova Scotia by Gary L. Saunders

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Most branches are already bare of the snow that fell early Sunday, but there’s no doubt about it.  There’s a bite of cold in the air that wasn’t present last week, and the waves of snow on the lawn confirm the inevitable.  Winter is here. 

This snow is crunchy this morning.  Underfoot, this isn’t a sound that’s experienced until after winter has set its claws into the landscape.  Ice has bonded the snow to the leaves and grass lying beneath it. Its hard surface is of the variety that makes it difficult to track the movements of small animals. 

Resting on the surface of these ripples of icy snow is a dusting of tiny bright white snow pellets.  This isn’t the type of snow that children delight in playing with.  It’s simply a tease to them and a promise of bigger snowfalls yet to come.  For adults, it’s an indicator that spring is closer than it was last week.

O Wind, if Winter comes… can Spring be far behind?

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

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