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Posts Tagged ‘beach’

There’s nothing like the sound of boards under your feet while taking a stroll.  Your footsteps make enough noise to add a rhythm to your excursion while not being so loud as to interfere with being able to hear the subtle sounds of nature.  And, most importantly, you don’t have to worry about getting sand or small gravel in your shoes.

There are many boardwalks and wooden bridges in Nova Scotia, meandering through wetlands, creating paths to beaches through sand dunes and along the shoreline.  Weathered boardwalks offer smooth walking surfaces in soft grey colors.  They unobstrusively blend into their surroundings better than pavement or even gravel, and their ramps offer closer access to wild areas for folks in wheelchairs and parents pushing strollers.

At Rainbow Haven beach, the raised boardwalks provide shelter and convenient hiding places for foxes wishing to keep a low profile.  Coffee drinkers too, as evidenced by the paper Tim’s cup balanced on the rafters.

A thin layer of frost can make the boardwalk slippery in colder weather.  Though it’s sparkly in the sunshine, the combination of fine salt spray and freezing temperatures create a surface that can be surprisingly slick.


The boardwalk in Eastern Passage is popular with folks of all ages seeking exercise in a natural setting.  It can get quite crowded on warm summer afternoons and evenings.

At Rainbow Haven park, a crow rests at dawn on the lookout at the end of the widest walkway.  

This boardwalk is sure to see thousands of feet trample its boards this summer on their way to and from the beach.

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There’s no better place to enjoy Midsummer than along the shoreline.  With the sounds of stones rolling under the wash of the waves in the background, willets forage in the waters at Silver Sands Beach.  Once a beautiful sand beach, the shore is now mostly stones.  Sand was trucked away decades ago to make cement for buildings and a runway, under the premise that the sands would return with the waves.  They never did.

Beach peas grow in profusion among the stones above the strandlines.  Their purple and green are a refreshing sight among the greys of the rocks.

A green crab, dried orange by the sun, lays in a tangle of seaweed in the sand.  Eventually, the sun will turn its carcass white.

Periwinkles covered with elaborate apparel are also present in great number. 

Dried pink amphipods are washed ashore.  They too will turn lighter in the sunlight.

Though you can’t tell by the image, the stones are warm to the touch.  To me, Midsummer means feeling the warmth of the sun in a way that touches you to your core.  There’s no better place to feel this than on the beach.  What does Midsummer mean to you?

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You’re alone, walking along the shoreline and enjoying the sunshine and the warm sand between your toes, when suddenly you see it:  a bottle with a piece of paper in it, lying on the sparkling beach.  You open the cork and read the contents and there it is… a message for the ages… words of wisdom that promise to give your mundane world new meaning and passion…  or perhaps a connection to another kindred soul on the planet.  Ah… if only it would happen like this. 

If such life-changing messages are to be found, they’re not lying there on a sunny shore, waiting to be chanced upon.  There’s a price to be paid for their discovery.  More likely, they’re to be found on a rainy day among plastic bottles and broken lobster traps in a heap of storm debris.

They may be enmeshed in a mass of wet seaweed, recently thrown up on the shore by crashing waves.  It may be winter when the sky is grey and oppressive, and you’d much rather be indoors than outside with the cold wind biting at your face and fingers.

If the message carried within the bottle is truly magnificent, you can bet the glass vessel is  lying close to the edge of the water, destined to be pulled out to sea again if you don’t act quickly enough to pick it up.

Anyone who has ever valued wisdom or soulful connections with others knows that these are treasures you have to find for yourself.  Neither can be passed from one person to the next.  Likewise, the person who finds the bottle on the shore is the one destined to acquire its contents. 

‘I always believed the sea could bring surprises and joy.’  So said Hsiao Wei-chen of Taiwan, who recently found a message in a bottle thrown into the sea 3,000 nautical miles away by container ship seaman Oliver Hickman.  His note wished the finder health and happiness and also said the world is full of fun, love and beauty.  Apparently, Hickman makes it a regular practice to throw bottled messages into the sea.  For more on the story, see Times Live.

The world is indeed full of fun, love and beauty.  It’s also full of wonder.  You just have to get out there and discover it for yourself.

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It’s always a good time to go down to the ocean and see what you can find.  Ice and wind only make the rocks look more interesting.

Even if it’s raining, the walk down to the sea is always worthwhile because you never know what treasures are waiting to be discovered on the shore.  You don’t have to pick them up to enjoy them.  Just leave them where you find them for others to discover too.

Unless you find a stranded starfish of course.  It’s always good to pick them up and throw them back in the water.

There are so many stones, worn down and rounded by years of pounding surf.  Do we humans inevitably become like this too?  Worn down and rounded by years of worldly concerns pounding on our fragile bodies?  Look at that white stone among all the grey ones.  I wonder how it got in with the others…

The best trips to the shore are often ones when I can come ‘home with a smooth round stone as small as a world and as large as alone.’  What do you find when you visit the shore?

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
~ ee cummings

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It’s not unusual to find tangled seaweeds and seagrasses on Nova Scotia’s beaches.  Irish moss, sugar kelp, rockweed and eelgrass are all common finds.  Loosened from their strongholds, they are often washed onto the beaches by the waves at high tide, appearing either individually or with others in the strandline.

On this small stone beach in Cow Bay, there is often a narrow strip of seaweed.  However, what I found this week was far from ordinary.  A massive heap of seaweed consisting mostly of the brown variety lay in a distinct mound on the shore.  The heap appeared a few feet high in some spots.  Thrown onto the beach during our recent stormy weather, this is the thickest stack of seaweed I’ve ever seen over my years of visiting our local beaches. 

Though seaweed is growing in popularity as a health food in the western world, and has traditionally been used by gardeners for fertilizing the soil, this mound will likely be on the beach for some time.  As it’s so thick, the seaweed probably won’t have a chance to dry out during low tide.  Despite the cold weather, kelp flies were swarming around the already rotting mass when I took these photos on Wednesday.

Seaweed scattered along Conrad Beach near Lawrencetown in November

Last month, Em of Diabetes Dialogue, offered some excellent information pertaining to the health benefits of seaweed:

“As I understand it, all seaweeds are edible, but they must be gathered from pollution free waters. http://www.ryandrum.com will give you good information and Dr. Ryan Drum, PhD is a professional person who is well acquainted with both coasts.

The Maine Sea Vegetables link on my post will also be helpful for you, as what grows in the Bay of Fundy likely grows on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore, at least to some degree.

Ryan says that not all seaweeds taste good, in the sense that some are very strong textures. The ones eaten by Native Americans, Europeans and Asians tend to be versions of the same species. Interesting, eh?

But, as I understand it, barring any natural or man-made pollution, you should be safe in collecting fresh seaweed — now, navigating the coastal rocks is another matter!

Ryan explains how to “harvest” and not kill the plant, which is critical as, evidently from about the 1980s onward, commercial businesses have been using Norwegian mechanical harvesters, all over the world, to indiscriminately “rape” the ocean. Whole species have “disappeared” and are at or near extinction just in order to show up as “organic” and “regular” fertilizer or be used in Caribbean natural-Viagra drinks (these species were over-harvested by hand). How incredibly maddening!

Dr. Drum says we need to demand laws to stop all this over-harvesting and to encourage marine farming of seaweed, as is done in parts of Japan, on strings or on matted net.

Why can’t business use the less-invasive technology, first?! I hate to think how much damage these companies have wrought, unabated. So Drum says that Maine is threatening a 5 year moratorium on all seaweed harvesting, which would be devastating to the responsible hand harvesters, who in a year probably don’t take as much as a mechanized harvester does in a day or so.

Anyway, as your estuary and possibly coastal area, seems quiet, maybe you can learn more and safely harvest your own.

As far as health is concerned, the more I read, the more I see that this primal plant, which has supported all Life, from it’s inception, is truly the most nourishing plant we could use everyday.”

For more information on using seaweed for fertilizing gardens, see Anne’s post on Winter Gardening at Nova Scotia Island Journal.

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beyond the beachThere’s more to the beach than the sandy shore.  At Rainbow Haven park in Cow Bay, boardwalks and gravel trails offer an opportunity to explore the coastal ecosystem beyond the sand and surf.

Coastal erosion is a worldwide problem.  Over time, tidal action and storms can eat into the beach, wear down rocks and eventually draw the sand out to sea.  This is less a problem at Rainbow Haven than at nearby Silver Sands beach.

Increasing human activity during the summer months has made this popular beach less friendly to birds like piping plovers and sandpipers that nested in the dune grasses in years past.  Year round, walkers often ignore signs to leash dogs, which also contributes to the problem. 

sand dune grasses

Just beyond the beach lie rolling fields of tall grass growing in the sand dunes.  Foxes make their homes in the small hills.  They survive by hunting small mammals and birds in the local area.  I’ve often seen hare and seagull carcasses in the dunes surrounding their holes.  Sparrows make their nests in the bushy areas surrounding the spruce trees.

asters at rainbow haven

Purple asters can be found at this time of year, growing among the grasses.  Strawberries thrive in some sandier spots in the early summer. 

rainbow haven fields

Many of the spruce trees gave up the ghost in recent years, likely due to trauma experienced during Hurricane Juan’s visit in 2003.  Their grey skeletons remain erect on the landscape.

spruce at rainbow haven

The top branches of some of the surviving spruce trees are heavily laden with cones this year.  White spruce are especially tolerant of salt spray and are not uncommon in coastal areas. 

cormorants congregating

Farther beyond the grassed area, across the road that leads into the park, a body of salt water is frequently visited by ducks, gulls and herons.  Cormorants can usually be found congregating on a dock in a spot visited by seals last winter.  Canada geese will sometimes stop here during migration.  Rising and falling with the tides, this water is connected to the salt marsh  where many of the shore birds now make their home.  

Autumn’s quieter days are a good time to explore the ecosystem beyond the shore.  Just be sure to stay on the trails.

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