Posts Tagged ‘Cow Bay’

The seasons wait for no one.  In Nova Scotia, this is especially true with our springs and summers, which always seem too short. 

Looking back on a summer that flew by more quickly than most, I notice myself scrambling to find a few small things to take with me into the cooler seasons ahead.   There may not have been any long hot days at the beach to look back on, but that’s ok…

Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

~  Winnie the Pooh 

Children playing in the sunshine, a warm breeze enjoyed while hanging out the laundry and flowers glimpsed coloring the wayside… these are the little things that will still provide warm memories of summer next January. 

Perhaps it’s their vulnerability that endears these small things to us.  Wild roses growing on the edge of a busy road…

Or tiny caterpillars crossing the trail…

Perhaps it’s because the blooming time for many small wild things is limited to just a couple of weeks a year.  

 Come the dark days of November, their presence will seem to have been as fleeting as that of a butterfly.

And the rising summer sun a brief kiss of light.

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved,
To have thought,
To have done?
~ Matthew Arnold

This post was inspired by Summertime written by Isabelle at Isathreadsoflife’s Blog.


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Why did the snake cross the road?  Didn’t it feel the vibrations from oncoming traffic? 

Hey, do I look worried?

This maritime garter snake managed to survive being run over by a truck, luckily slipping between the tires.  Why was it willing to risk life and limb to get to the other side?  Was it looking for something tasty to eat? Snake berries perhaps?

For years I’ve heard both adults and children talk of ‘snake berries.’  Could these be berries that were frequently eaten by snakes? 

As children, my sons and their friends used the term to describe the fruit of the bunchberry plant, shown above.  It seemed that only the daring among them had ever tried tasting these snake berries.  My friend Sandy thought snake berries were blue. Others who knew of snake berries weren’t able to describe the plant in any detail. 

After a bit of digging, I discovered that the term is used to describe any berry of questionable edibility.  So, if you are in the woods, and see a berry that you’re not sure you can eat, you might choose to call it a snake berry.  All snake berries are therefore considered poisonous.  By the way, bunchberries are edible.  They’re bland with a large pit, but edible nonetheless.

Since the berries shown above are unknown to me and I’m not sure if they’re safe to eat, I’ll call them snake berries until I can learn more about them.  And since all snakes are carnivores, there’s no way that they would eat this or any other berry.

So, as to why the snake crossed the road… in Cow Bay, there can only be one answer:  it was the pheasants’ day off!

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If you dug a hole straight through to the opposite side of the planet, where would you come out? Like most North Americans, Nova Scotians would find themselves in the middle of the Indian Ocean. 

Wherever we live on the planet, we tend to think of our immediate environment as stale and mundane compared to what lies beyond the horizon.  The intrigue of the unknown is fascinating to us all.  If we live where it’s cold, we long for tropical weather and dislike having to shovel snow or drive on icy roads.  Desert and tropical inhabitants long for cool fresh air and wonder about the magical qualities of snow.  We humans are a tough lot to please.

The part of the Indian Ocean where Nova Scotians would find themselves is just southwest of the Great Australian Bight, an area inhabited by marine creatures, the majority of which (like the leafy sea dragon at left) are only found in that part of the world.  Now THAT is fascinating.  Though they are pretty cool too, I believe all the plant and animal species found here in Cow Bay are found elsewhere in Canada and the United States.

Photo credit:  Traci Woods Wellington AustraliaAs luck would have it, there actually exists another Cow Bay in Queensland Australia.  Located in the Daintree Rainforest, it boasts an average annual daily temperature of 27 Celsius.  We don’t even enjoy that as an average during our summer months.  But it rains there 120 days of the year.  As evidenced by the phenomenal flooding that’s wreaked havoc in Queensland recently, no place on the planet is likely perfect.  But that won’t stop me from wondering about faraway lands (and waters) and the amazing creatures that inhabit them. 

Photo credits and references:

You can try Zefrank’s Earth Sandwich tool for yourself by clicking on the map images at the top of this post.

A larger version of the photograph of the amazing leafy sea dragon by Laurent Ballesta and other marine wildlife found off Australia’s coast can be found at National Geographic by clicking on the dragon image above.

More images of the flooding in Queensland can be found by clicking on the image of the kangaroo ferryman photographed by Traci Woods.  Thank you to Dawn at Sahlah Photos and Thoughts for inspiring me with her post on Flooding in Queensland.


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Half hidden among the rocks, nuggets of fool’s gold often catch my eye as I’m walking in Cow Bay.  Also known as pyrite, fool’s gold is found in cubic forms with lustrous facets that lead many to believe they’ve discovered something far more precious. 

But there was a time when real gold was found in Cow Bay.  The story of gold’s presence here reveals a little known connection to Africa and begins around the time of the earliest fishes. 

Five hundred million years ago, there existed a proto-Atlantic Ocean.  North America and Africa were separate from one another, as they are today.  Back then, gold bearing sediments were carried by rivers in Africa, accumulating along the shore.  A hundred million years later, sedimentary layers crumpled as North America and Africa collided during the time of Pangaea.  The metamorphic process began to concentrate the gold.

The break-up of Pangaea

Two hundred million years ago, around the time of the earliest dinosaurs, the present Atlantic Ocean was formed as North America and Africa separated during the break-up of Pangaea.  When this took place, part of Africa remained attached to a section of Nova Scotia.  Gold-bearing rocks known as the Meguma Group are found in this section.  Sedimentary rocks in the Meguma Group include the Goldenville Formation (sandstone and greywacke) and the Halifax Formation (slate).

During the late 1800s, gold sediments were found near the Cow Bay River.  Shortly afterwards, a mill was constructed and mining began.  The gold mine in Cow Bay was one of 67 in the province, all mostly located along the Eastern Shore.  Mining in Cow Bay was abandoned in the 1950s.  Supposedly, there are still some open mine shafts to be found in the woods. 

A couple of years ago, while panning unsuccessfully for gold in the Cow Bay river, I wondered about the excitement others must have felt when they found the real thing.  It sparks the imagination to think that the people of Cow Bay share common ground with the people of West Africa.  The world is full of wonders, just waiting to be unearthed.

This post was inspired by an essay my son Kip wrote in grade 8.  The information he compiled is from unknown sources.  Please let me know if any of what is written above is incorrect or can be credited to a known source.

A pdf map of Historical Gold Mining in the Cow Bay area can be found on the Government of Nova Scotia website here.

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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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Seeing the sea from so many vantage points is one of the perks of living in Nova Scotia, especially around the Halifax region.  While driving or walking, seeing the ocean out of the corner of your eye always boosts the spirit.   Like the sky, the Atlantic is always changing and offering something new to see every day.

Sunrises reflected over salt water are especially beautiful.  After decades of looking out towards the sea, it’s still a wonder to me that this water and the water seen from Africa’s western shores are one and the same.  Supposedly, prior to Continental Drift, the land around Cow Bay was once connected to Africa.  Somehow, the idea that Cow Bay’s sandy shores may share a common history with Namibian sands makes this place seem even more special.  

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had to rush past awe-inspiring sunrises over the ocean while on my way to work in the early mornings.   Nevertheless, even a glimpse of such an ocean sunrise is sure to give you some immunity to whatever the rest of the day may throw at you.  Could it be the reflection of sunrise colours in the water that persists in our memory throughout the day?  Or is it the sense of having been alone with God for just that moment at the break of  dawn?

The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea. 
~Isak Dinesen

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