Arctic Kiwi Male and Female Flowers

I have a male and a female Actinidia kolomikta (one of a couple of species of Arctic Kiwi that grow in our climate) in bloom. A male plant is needed to fertilize the blossoms of the female plants, and they both make flowers. I was curious to learn how to tell the flowers apart.

Easy, as it turns out, once you look. The female flower has white stigmas and styles that radiate from the center. The male flower has yellow stamens dangling from thin filaments.

When I first saw the variegated foliage, I thought it was diseased! But no, it has splashes of white and even pink. A most attractive plant. Some people even grow the male plants only, just for the foliage. But the fruits are delicious, grape-sized little kiwis. You don’t need to peel them as the skin is smooth. They taste just like the larger variety that you can buy in the grocery store. They will fall off the vine when they get really ripe and sweet, so it probably pays to harvest them a bit early and let them ripen in a bowl.

Bluenose II sitting pretty in Lunenburg

The newly rebuilt Bluenose II sits at Lunenburg Foundry at the innermost part of the harbour. Sails and rigging make the job seem complete from a distance, though I’m sure there’s lots going on below decks. She’s a beauty.

Bluenose II
Bluenose II at Lunenburg Foundry, October 24, 2013.
Photo by Heather Holm

 

Segway PT tours coming to Oak Island!

Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island
Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island

It’s an unusual site almost anywhere.

When we spotted two Segway PTs on the road to Oak Island, dodging the dodgy potholes, we had to find out what’s going on.

It was Wynand “Dutch” Baerken who runs the Kayak Shack over at the Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island, and Max from Segway Nova Scotia.

Wynand was sporting the sleek street Segway model while Max was roadtesting the fat-tired all-terrain version, complete with racey fenders. The knobby tires give an advantage on rough roads, but there’s a sacrifice in range compared to the street model of these electric-powered standup vehicles.

Heather on a Segway in 2005

I tried out a Segway some years ago in PEI (left). While it was fun, I wondered where it would find its market. It’s slower than a bicycle and faster than walking, and usually I want the exercise.

Wynand pointed out that he goes back and forth between the Kayak Shack and the Hotel many times a day, and a Segway would be more convenient than a bicycle and save walking time.

Large airports and warehouses are other places where a Segway doesn’t go fast enough to cause accidents but can increase efficiency.

Furthermore, you can wear it with anything, though high heels might handicap your ability to maneuver it.

The Kayak Shack will be offering guided Segway tours this summer! From the hotel, which overlooks Oak Island, the rail trail leads nicely to Crandall Road which is 1.4 km long and ends at the Oak Island causeway. Tours of Oak Island itself may happen, but the view at the causeway provides a great destination itself.

So I expect to see groups of these quiet vehicles humming down our road this summer. They’re quiet enough that you can have a conversation, so we’ll hear the voices before we hear the hum.

Here’s a little video illustrating that effect. You can even hear the birds!

 

“There’s lots of room here to be different”

Talking to people who are drawn to live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, I find it interesting to learn about what attracts them here.

Living in Nova Scotia is a choice, whether you come from “away” or  have your roots in the province.

I often buy meat from Kevin Veinot at local farmers’ markets. His farm has been in his family for seven generations. Yet he too has made a conscious choice to live here, and to farm sustainably.

As he says in this video, “There’s lots of room here to be different.”

Sea Urchins a French Delicacy

It took my friend Richard to tell me this. He’s French by origin, and so is Frédéric Tandy, the chef of Ratinaud, a gourmet charcuterie in Halifax. Good buddies in a culinary sort of way.

So here is Richard chez Fred, showing the world how to eat these fabulous sea urchins from Digby. I haven’t ever tried them – have you?

Old Man Luedecke explains why he lives here

Singer-songwriter and banjo player Chris Luedecke is not really old, but he’s definitely a cultural treasure in Nova Scotia. His songs have a charm and maturity that belie his relative youth.

Here he and his wife, potter Teresa Bergen, explains how and why they got here:

Nova Scotia Sea School Restoring Dorothea

An iconic sight in the waters of Mahone Bay and beyond, Dorothea has taken hundreds of young people on maritime sailing adventures as part of the Nova Scotia Sea School.

It’s the kind of intense, group adventure that teenagers crave and need for their development, and that schools don’t usually provide.

Lives have been changed.

Dorothea needs an overhaul. Compare the $30,000 they’re looking for to the cost of rebuilding Bluenose II! Small projects like this are very satisfying to support as they can have a huge positive impact on individual lives.

Watch the video to find out what Dorothea has done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54qqKU8WtJg

Click here to visit the Nova Scotia Sea School website.

Bing’s Eatery and Socialhouse – a nice surprise in Maitland

Bing’s Eatery and Socialhouse in Maitland, NS

The Tidal Bore in South Maitland had passed, and we were ready for lunch. Heading northwest to Maitland, we stopped at Bing’s Eatery and Socialhouse, expecting a typical “greasy spoon” with various deep fried offerings.

We were surprised to find a cozy interior painted in a deep colour that set off the original paintings on the wall.

We split a Harvest Wrap with turkey and a Caesar salad. The lively, organic veggies were wrapped in fresh herbs and a tasty dressing, and the generous Caesar was as crispy as could be.

Inside Bing’s Eatery, a cozy interior

The pièce de résistance was the dessert, a bumbleberry (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry) crumble with vanilla ice cream that lingered delightfully on our palates long after we left the building.

Choice of beverages included a variety of local and Canadian beers and other drinks. Propeller Ginger Beer, made in Halifax, is a very refreshing non-alcoholic choice for a hot day.

Our choice of beverage

The paintings on the wall were the work the owner, Bing himself. He used to run a tidal bore rafting outfit nearby, and opened the restaurant two years ago.

They have live music on Fridays. Check out the website for more details.

Sometimes it’s hard to find quality food in rural diners, so we were delighted with our meal and eager to recommend Bing’s to you!

Blockhouse School getting recycled

École de la Rive-Sud and schoolbus
When it was the French school

Exciting things are happening around the old Blockhouse School near Mahone Bay. The 1962 building has been abandoned since the local French Acadian school moved to its new location outside Bridgewater in 2010. That left the property in the hands of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg  (MODL).   Plan B was to bulldoze the property. They were looking for someone with Plan A.

A growing group of people has been coming together around a vision – repurpose the building, and show the world how it can be done.  Insulate it to its eyeballs and add active and passive solar heating. Use it as a business incubator for projects that will make the area more self-sufficient and sustainable.  Plant perennials that will add to our food supply in the long term, and teach people how to do the same. Aquaponics. Permaculture. Green roof. Composting toilets. Time-share commercial kitchen.

Possible future model
All these things have been done elsewhere; we just need a model of how to do it here.

Check out the new website at TheBlockhouseSchool.org.