Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Canada – Nova Scotia’

bridge before dawn

Canada Goose Bridge

Even on a flat trail, there are many disadvantages to walking in a salt marsh in the dark:  you don’t always see the puddles or the uneven wood planks on the bridge; you can’t enjoy fall’s beautiful colours; and, you never know what’s lurking in the woods, or ahead of you on the trail.  However, the hour before dawn is ideal for seeing shooting stars and listening to herons, ducks and seagulls as they awaken.  During migration season, it’s also wonderful to listen to the flocks of hundreds, if not thousands of geese that rest overnight in the salt marsh.

geese in the dark

Geese in the Dark

Although they could be heard talking to one another in the darkness yesterday morning, by the time I arrived near their resting area today, the geese were just taking  flight.  The sound was amazingly loud as they flew above the trees.  I wondered what had startled them so early.

A flashing light soon became apparent on the trail ahead.  Hunters!  In a conservation area!  They had walked into the park using the trail and were dressed in waders.  Carrying guns, they explained that they were waiting for a boat to pick them up and take them to a spot that was beyond the park limits.  Hmmmm…

conservation area

 A light from a very quiet boat could be seen approaching the shore.  It had set out across the water from a launch area situated next to nearby Rainbow Haven Provincial Park.

Canada Goose by John James Audubon

Canada Goose by John James Audubon

The first time I walked along the salt marsh trail in the Peter McNab Kuhn Conservation Area, hunters shot down a duck that was retrieved by their dog right next to the trail.  It was Thanksgiving Monday and not quite what I was expecting from a walk in the park.  From the trail, I could see hunters in camouflage gear lying low behind their blinds on a nearby island.  The area had probably been used for years by hunters who entered the area by boat and weren’t aware of the area’s new park status.

These days however, all hunters should be aware of park limits.  Regardless of how delectable a goose might be for Christmas dinner, somehow it just doesn’t seem right to be using a park trail to bring hunting gear into an area in order to stalk geese before first light.  Knowing the goose was hunted in that manner would certainly leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Read Full Post »

vine and sky

You can’t hide your true colors as you approach the autumn of your life.

maple leaf mandala in blueIsn’t it odd how the colors of leaves turn warm just as the weather cools?  In art, it’s known that warm colors like red, orange and yellow advance, while cool blues, greens and purples recede.

Could the warm colors be nature’s way of bringing leaves to the forefront so that we can examine and appreciate them one more time before they’re gone?

I’ve often wondered what autumn would look like if the leaves turned cool in color instead of warm?  How would the landscape look with leaves of icy blue and turquoise instead of fiery red and orange?  Perhaps the combination of cooler weather with cool colors would be too much of a shock to us after months of warm summer weather.  The warmer colors are nature’s way of easing us into the cold winter ahead.

sky blues

Unlike the leaves, autumn’s skies turn bluer than usual at this time of year.  Above are excerpts of three of the bluest skies I’ve photographed in the past month.  Each one is such a unique hue.  Who would have thought there could be so many versions of ‘sky blue’ to be found at this time of year?  Nature’s true colors never cease to amaze me.

Read Full Post »

autumn through living room window

Sometimes, even when sunny skies beckon, we still have to stay indoors.  Sometimes it’s because there’s house or office work to be done.  Other times, it’s because we’re sick.  Such is the case with me this week with a diagnosis of pneumonia.

From behind glass, there’s still much to see of nature outside.  Trees continue to change colour and some of the vines on the house have turned red and pink.  They adorn the edges of the living room window.  There’s no time like the present to appreciate them as the wind will soon blow them all away.  In the summer months, they make drapes in the window unnecessary and bring nature’s colours up close.

second storey vines

Vines can also be seen from one of the second storey windows.  Although their colours are still bright through the screen, they’re even prettier seen from the outdoors, as in the photo taken on the weekend. 

leaves through front door windowSilhouettes of leaves can be seen trembling in the wind through the glass of the front door’s window as well.  By the time witches and goblins show up at the door in a couple of weeks, they’ll be all gone.

I’ve been so accustomed to stepping outdoors several times a day.  There is something about fresh air and sunshine that makes us feel better just by being outdoors. 

So why do we tend to stay in when we’re sick?  I wonder if perhaps we would recover more quickly outdoors.  The challenge would be to not engage in too much tiring activity. 

From the kitchen window I can see a large snowshoe hare that’s decided to come close.  Its ears are perked and it’s sitting just below the window, posed perfectly still for a photograph.   Sometimes, when you can’t go out into nature, nature knows, and comes to you.

hare from window

Read Full Post »

maple leaf mandala

Through the ages, mandalas have been employed by Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Native people the world over to create sacred spaces and focal points for prayer and meditation.

seastone mandalaOften painted, they may also be made of stone, colored sand or stained glass, such as in the rose windows found in Gothic cathedrals. Some, like Tibetan sand mandalas, possess an impermanent quality, as their deconstruction is also part of the ritual surrounding their creation.  Mandalas might be intended as representations of the universe, the unconscious self or the relationship between the inner and outer realms. 

Mine are simple creations made with natural materials found in my yard:  leaves, flowers, twigs and tree cones.  The first mandala shown at the top of this post was made from the colorful leaves of a sugar maple and a yellow birch.  The second was created on my gravel driveway from sea smoothed stones gathered near the ocean.

peony leaf mandala

This peony leaf mandala also includes fern leaves, purple asters and two-flowered Cynthia blooms.  A curled up wooly bear caterpillar is at its centre.

fir cone mandala

Above, heal-all flowers have been arranged with balsam fir cones around a mushroom centre.  The creation of each mandala gave me an opportunity to reflect on autumn’s beautiful colours and textures.  I’m thankful to live in a place where nature’s palette is ever changing and fresh.   

My mandalas will slowly fall apart, be moved by the winds or wild creatures, decay and return to the earth.  Their ephemeral quality only serves to enhance their present beauty.

Have you ever considered using natural materials to create a mandala outdoors?

 

Read Full Post »

fungi 10

Fall is an excellent time to see fungi in Nova Scotia’s woods.  Whether growing on the ground or on decaying trees, these life forms are varied, with some species being edible.

fungi

Of the ten types of fungi I managed to photograph in my yard in the past week, I am only confident of the identification of one, the orange jelly at bottom centre which is considered edible if boiled.  Even with the use of an Audubon field guide, I’m still wary of my ability to correctly identify the less colorful varieties.  Despite minute differences, they all look so similar to one another.

Although a distinction is often made between mushrooms and toadstools, with toadstools often considered toxic and with a tapered (as opposed to straight) stalk, there is no scientific basis for this.  The edibility of mushrooms is best determined by experts rather than through trial and error.  The adage that there are old mushroom pickers and bold mushroom pickers, but no old, bold mushroom pickers is probably true. 

fairy rings and toadstools by richard doyle

Due to the poisonous and hallucinogenic nature of some fungi, they have often been given magical properties in art and literature.  Faeries and gnomes are frequently depicted beside toadstools as in the 19th century painting of Fairy Rings and Toadstools (shown above) by Richard Doyle.  I once came across one of these ‘fairy’ rings in my yard.  They originate in the growth of fungi around the outer edge of the decaying underground roots of old trees.  It seemed pretty harmless in the light of day, but who knows what magic transpired in its midst during moonlit nights.

fungi with copper pennies

Copper penny test to determine toxicity of mushrooms as per Wind's comment

Read Full Post »

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.

Receive by email or subscribe in a reader

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: