Posts Tagged ‘gold’

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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autumn gold

It’s been half a century since gold was mined in Cow Bay.  Gold deposits here are part of the evidence that support the theory that this corner of Nova Scotia was attached to Africa prior to continental drift.  Today, the closest we have to gold is found in November’s plant life along the Salt Marsh Trail. 

These golden grasses and leaves exhude a warmth and richness that were not present earlier this fall.

the marsh in september

The Marsh in September

The goldening of the grasses takes place at the same time that the water turns a steel grey.  

marsh grasss nov

The colours look especially burnished in the morning sunlight.  Even when there is frost on the seaweed, there is a warm glow to the landscape.

frost in autumn

The few leaves remaining on the rosebushes that border the trail are also golden.  They stand in bright contrast to the brilliant red rose hips that were orange earlier in the season.

gold rosebush

Even the November sunrise seems more golden…

november sunrise

Which makes me wonder… why do we usually think of November as such a dull, dreary month?

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yellow foliageSunny yellow foliage is making its appearance on the Nova Scotia landscape.  Birches, poplars and tamaracks all transform into bright gold at this time of year.  Hot summers will often turn the leaves a dry brown before they have a chance to become yellow, but this summer’s plentiful rains and cooler temperatures promise golden hues this fall.

Some areas of the countryside change colour before others.  Some transformations from green to yellow are gradual, while others seems to magically happen overnight.

In the woods, toadstools have popped up in shady spots under trees.  There is quite a variety of them in the maritime woods, but the yellow ones are especially eye-catching and pretty.  I’m not sure if the ones in the photograph below are Yellow Patches or Yellow-orange Fly Agaric.  Both are considered inedible. 

toadstools and goldenrod

Golden rod flowers are still in bloom although many have now turned a dull brown.  They’ve been a sign heralding the end of warm days since I was a child.  Perhaps they steal and absorb the last bits of sunshine, keeping the final rays of warmth in their roots until spring.

yellow ribbon

Like many families with loved ones on tour, a yellow ribbon is displayed in the front yard.  My son Kip arrived in Afghanistan this past week.  The yellow ribbon is a reminder to keep him and other troops in thought and prayer during their period of deployment.  We look forward to his safe return in the spring.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The ripe, rich tints of the cornfield,
And the wild geese sailing by;
And all over upland and lowland,
The charm of the golden rod; —
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

~ Willian Herbert Carruth

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Summer spills her golden days,
Upon the earth in lust displays.

~ Nora Bozeman

black eye susan

Warm August days bring forth blooms of a yellow color that weren’t noticeable on the landscape a few weeks ago.  These cheerful flowers have a golden glow that mimics the bright summer sun.

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are native to North America and are desirable in gardens for their bright color and quality of low-maintenance.  They’ve been used by native people to treat a variety of ailments from snake bites to earaches.   These yellow daisies  have a flat open design that is especially attractive to butterflies.

wild flowers and grass

Evening-primroses (Onagraceae) open at sunset and close by noon the following day.  Also known as sun cups, they are pollinated by moths that fly from flower to flower during the night hours.  The young shoots of this plant can be eaten in a salad while the roots can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable.  Yet another name for this plant, King’s Cure-all, reveals its myriad medicinal uses, from pain-relief to cough suppression.

light yellow flowers

I haven’t had any luck identifying the plant with light yellow flowers shown above.  It grows profusely along the Salt Marsh Trail.  Does it look familiar to anyone?

Update August 6th:  I’ve discovered that this plant is most likely Sea Radish which is in the Mustard family (cruciferae).


Canada Hawkweed is also a native plant, found growing along roadsides and railway tracks.  Since the trail along the salt marsh follows the old Blueberry Express train track, it’s no surprise that it’s found along there.  Rough Hawkweed, which has hairier stems, grows in my lawn in early July.  Usually considered a weed, it derives its name from the old belief that it was eaten by hawks to improve their eyesight.

golden rod

A few Golden Rod plants are in bloom along the Salt Marsh Trail but not yet in my yard.  Ever since I was a child, their blooming has been a sign for me that the summer was winding down. There are numerous varieties of this plant.  Larger ones have very rigid stalks and can grow several feet tall.

Take time this month to drink in the beauty around you.  If you don’t have a garden of your own, take an extra bit of time to enjoy the flowers growing freely along roadsides.  Enjoy these golden days because…

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

~ William Shakespeare

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metallic treesStrong, solid, brilliant, inflexible and reflective are all words used to describe metal as an element.  Its mood is melancholic and serious.  Metal is also a conductor and can represent bright ideas and  communication.  In nature, metal is associated with white, grey, silver and gold.

Although green in the daylight, the leaves on the trees at left shimmer silver in the moonlight.  Their eerie look was made even more so by the presence of bats flying above me as I took photos along the Salt Marsh Trail in the minutes before dawn.

The metal images from our scavenger hunt reflect the greatest diversity of interpretations of an element yet.  Despite metal’s quality of rigidity, two animals, a frog and donkey,  and a human scalp were featured as subjects in our set.


An iron buoy, wrought metal, bone and flowers add to the mix.  These images left me with such questions as… Which is more important, shape or color, in helping us determine what something is?  At what point does yellow become gold or grey become silver?  What role does white play in revealing a subject’s reflective quality?

An excellent man, like precious metal, is in every way invariable;  a villain like the beams of a balance, is always varying, upwards and downwards.

~ John Locke

This montage is the last of our five elements.  Tomorrow, I’ll offer a summary of our scavenger hunt.

Images in the montage were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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