Posts Tagged ‘beach’

The end of summer may be on the horizon, but there’s still some time left to cram some sparkle into the last week of August.  There are still opportunities to pick berries, squish sand between your toes and enjoy starlit nights outdoors.

As a child, golden rod flowers reminded me that my grasshopper and butterfly-catching days were coming to an end.  They still prompt me to make the most of the summer’s last days.

Yesterday my grandson and I picked blackberries in patches overlooking the ocean in the morning.  In the afternoon, we let the waves crash into us at the beach.  After nightfall, we explored a woodland path with flashlights.  It was both exhilarating and exhausting.  The best summer days are like that.

Some blackberries still haven’t ripened.

It could have been better.  I could have had the sense to not get my legs all scratched up by the blackberry brambles before I went into the stinging salt water.  That’s minor.  Scrapes, scratches and bug bites are all part of the outdoor summer experience.  But it could have also been worse.  Just before putting down my foot, I spotted a large, active wasps’ nest on the ground beneath an apple tree where we were attracted by some low hanging fruit.

Recently we tented in the yard, thrilled to witness the flight of bats from behind the screened door after sundown.   We didn’t see any bats last night, though we did get to see a shooting star.  The best summers are a series of moments such as these, strung together on a necklace that sparkles around our necks until the following June when we begin to gather gems for a new one.

A painted lady butterfly basks in the summer sunshine

Stalk butterflies, visit the beach or simply take in the wonders of the night sky, but do make the most of these last days of summer.  Cramming has never been so enjoyable.

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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A light dusting of snow sparkles on the boardwalk leading to the seashore. There are no tracks yet. It’s still early.

But despite clear blue skies, it’s no day to be at the beach. A cold December wind has blown in. Is winter finally here?  Christmas is just around the corner.  Perhaps the beach walkers are shopping in the malls these days instead of strolling along the shoreline.

Spray is blowing from the crests of waves at sea.  These spindrifts are considered by mariners to be  indicators of gale force winds.  Just looking at them is enough to make you shiver.

Later in the season, spindrifts of sand and snow will blow from the crests of dunes on the beach.  We’ll slowly drift into winter one snowflake at a time until our snowshovels runneth over. 

If only we could approach the holidays as we approach the seasons: slowly, one sparkle at a time… with no rushing and no deadlines, enjoying each moment and peacefully trusting that everything will come together eventually.

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays–let them overtake me unexpectedly–waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why this is Christmas Day!’

~  Ray Stannard Baker

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Starfish are common finds at Rainbow Haven beach this summer.  They can also be found clinging to rocks under the bridges along the Salt Marsh Trail.  Starfish rely on a constant intake of moisture for all their life systems, including mobility, and can’t survive out of water for more than a couple of hours.  

Many collectors dry starfish, pinning them while still wet in order to preserve their symmetry.  I shudder to think that the dried starfish I purchased years ago in Florida met with such a grisly end.  These days, I choose to fling the starfish I find on the beach back into the water.  Recently, I found a dried starfish flattened on a cement barricade near the parking lot.  It looked like it had been pounded flat while wet.  I know it’s just a starfish, but it seemed like such a waste of life. 

Over the years, I’ve seen children take buckets full of starfish and living molluscs away from the beach.  Unless they had a salt water tank at home ready to receive these wild creatures, why would parents allow this?   When and where do we acquire or lose our reverence for living things? 

 Awe is a big part of reverence.  Though often present in childhood, sometimes, as we grow older, it becomes difficult to keep that sense of awe alive.  Familiarity with a natural environment can also make us take it for granted.   In its practice,  reverence reveals to the world that we humbly acknowledge the presence and needs of other human beings and living creatures besides ourselves.

Litter at the beach is another sign that reverence is lacking.  People come to the beach to be refreshed by nature but don’t realize their role in maintaining this setting for others to enjoy.  Even worse, they don’t care about the living creatures that make their permanent home at the beach.  Homeowners living nearby also get extremely frustrated by the excess of litter.

Despite the presence of park signs advising owners to keep a rein on pets, dogs are frequently seen off leash.  It’s not just people who are intimidated by dogs running wild.  Piping plovers, ground nesting birds, no longer make their home on this beach due to loss of undisturbed habitat. 

As our beaches become more crowded during the summer season, it’s even more important for everyone to practice reverence towards one another and the natural environment.  We’re not alone.  Let’s not act as if we were. 

If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life.
~ Albert Schweitzer

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Jellyfish are not an uncommon sight along Nova Scotia’s seashores in July.  Yet, their translucent colors tend to blend in well with the reddish brown seaweed on the beach and are easy to miss if you’re not watching where you step.

By the time they’re washed ashore, jellyfish have lost most of their magnificent bodily form.  My best guess for the one shone beached above is that it is a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata).  In the drawing at left, I’ve attempted to show what it may have looked like while floating in the ocean.

Jellyfish are not fish at all, but rather marine animals without backbones that reveal a radial symmetry.  They possess tentacles with stinging cells that allow them to capture their prey:  zooplankton and small fish.  Larger jellyfish will also eat smaller ones.

Leatherback sea turtles are attracted to our waters in search of jellyfish during the summer months.  Seabirds and large fish also eat jellyfish.

Lion’s Mane jellyfish enjoy our cooler waters and tend to not venture into warmer Atlantic seas.  They vary greatly in size.  The largest ever, with a diameter of 7-1/2 feet, was washed ashore in Massachussetts towards the southern tip of its range.

Though its sting is not fatal, this type of jellyfish and others, if found ashore or swimming nearby, should not be touched.  Their stings can still cause severe pain with reactions dependent on the size, age and health of the victim.  Sea turtles and their other predators don’t seem to be affected by them.

Below, a seagull dines on crab near the spot where the jellyfish was sighted at Rainbow Haven Beach.

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July 2nd 2010.  One dawn.  One fantillion colors.  How could just one sunrise possibly exude such a varied palette of yellows, oranges, pinks, purples and blues?  Just another of nature’s wonders that will likely remain a mystery for the ages.

I’ll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time.
~ Emily Dickenson

All photos were taken at sunrise near and in Rainbow Haven provincial park in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia.  The beach will be filled with people today, each one enjoying the sand and the surf, none of them ever realizing what a spectacle took place here this morning.

There is more day to dawn.
~ Henry David Thoreau

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Canada Day began this morning with a clear moon in a sky filled with blue.  By the time I reached Cow Bay Road, the sun was already rising over Lawrencetown. 

Once I arrived at Rainbow Haven, grey clouds were beginning to crowd out some of the blue sky.  Along with the water, they reflected the dawn beautifully.

The tide was very low, so the blue mussel bed on the beach was exposed.  From a distance, the bed looks like just a large patch of gravel on the sand, but is actually teaming with life.

Crabs, barnacles, periwinkles, dogwhelks, sea stars, blue mussels and moon snails all reside there.  They hide between and beneath the smoothly worn stones, while lying in wait for their prey or to avoid becoming prey themselves.  Rock crabs are especially talented at wedging themselves in the crevices with only their claws exposed.

Several small sea stars were present in the tidepools this morning.  They seem to be more common this year, both here and farther back in the marsh.   These purple starfish prey on the blue mussels by prying them open and inserting their stomachs inside the shells in order to feast on the contents directly.  Who would suspect these elegant creatures to have such gruesome feeding habits?

Beautiful weather on Canada Day always attracts crowds of sun seekers to Rainbow Haven beach.  Although the afternoon sun does put a sparkle on the sand and water, seeing the early morning sun at the shore puts a sparkle on my whole day. 

Happy Canada Day!

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