High and Low Tide on the Noel Shore at Tenecape

One of Nova Scotia’s best kept secrets is the “Noel Shore” along the Minas Basin between the Avon River at Windsor and the mouth of the Shubenacadie near Truro. The deep clay soil supports large, lush trees, and the rolling scenery is only surpassed by stunning views of the Basin.

Recently, we were lucky to stay a week at Shore Haven, at Tenecape near Burntcoat Head. The beach is grand to explore at low tide. Such a contrast with the water lapping at the cliffs at high tide.

If high tide occurs toward the end of a sunny day, the water can actually be quite swimmable, as it gets warmed by the sand as it comes in.

I just made a video, combining images from this visit with another 4 years ago.

Fly over the Bay of Fundy

This stunning video by Nova Scotia’s tourism folks features flyovers of the Bay of Fundy coastline, especially dramatic Cape Split. The Bay of Fundy, including its inner Minas Basin is a fascinating place to spend time watching the world’s highest tides. The video gives you the high speed flyover, but if you can spend a few days along this coast, taking in the changing landscape at a slower pace, you won’t regret it.

Rissers Beach Sand Castle Competition

The 12th annual Sand Castle Competition was held on a perfect sunny day, July 14, 2012.  Here are photos of some of the entries. The winners were the giant lobster and the pyramids.

 

23 Things to Love about Winter in Nova Scotia

Snowy road
Snowy road
With thanks to my Facebook friends for their contributions.

  1. The smooth, quiet brush of fresh snow under your skis.
  2. The way ice breaks and cracks over rocks as the tide falls.
  3. Empty beaches with shimmering vistas.
  4. Sea ice and rock
    Sea ice and rock, low tide
    The mildness, softness and peace a snowfall brings.
  5. Like the folks here, a winter is softness and gentility: quite well mannered, and departs when the welcome is worn.
  6. Snow days!
  7. A crackling fire in a woodstove making heat that penetrates to your bones.
  8. Walking past a buoy
    A boy and a buoy

    Walking ON the bay in places we usually row, paddle or sail.

  9. Sunlight sparkling off snow-laden branches.
  10. Minas Basin ice shifting, buckling, making strange sculptures on the shore.
  11. Magnificent bald eagles.
  12. Watching the days get longer in the coldest part of the winter.
  13. Snow on Victorian house
    Icing on the cake
    Shovelling the driveway with a helper who will clear up the last little bits: the sun.
  14. NO mosquitoes, NO blackflies, NO no-see-ums!
  15. The weather changes frequently: it’s fairly mild, and cold snaps are short, warm periods are also short.  There’s something for everyone and no time to get bored!
  16. The province is small but has a variety of microclimates.  Want more snow?  Ski hills are not so far away.  Want less snow?  Go walk a deserted South Shore beach.
  17. Ice floes
    Ice floes
  18. Memories of crazy winter antics performed when we were young and immortal: descending hills at great speed, jumping from one ice floe to another as the frozen ocean broke up (some have memories of being rescued in these situations!), “getting towed on a sled behind my dad’s car on a snow-covered gravel road, riding my bike through the streets of Halifax when the snow wasn’t too bad,” ice boating, skating on thin ice….
  19. Maple syrup made in the woods.
  20. Car in a drift
    Alone in a drift

    Patterns made by drifting snow.

  21. Winter skies unlike anything you see in the summer.
  22. Eating fresh snow.
  23. Cardinals and purple finches at the feeder.
  24. Getting insight into the life of rabbits from their tracks in the woods.

Oak leaf shape in ice
Oak leaf shape in ice
So there are some of the things we love about winter in Nova Scotia.  What are yours?  Leave a comment below.

Soft sea ice

Ice on rocks near Oak Island
Ice on rocks near Oak Island

I love how the soft sea ice forms, bends and cracks over rocks as the tide recedes.

It was -8° C this morning along the shore of the Bay, and the tide was falling.

Of right, privilege and freedom

I woke up this morning with my family aboard a sailboat at a peaceful anchorage in Mahone Bay just a couple of hours sail from home.  And shared my thoughts:  “We are so privileged to be doing this.  Not just having the boat, but to be able to sail where we want and drop the anchor where we deem best, want without paying a toll to anyone, and to enjoy this beautiful scenery so freely.”

Sunset at Covey Island, one of the islands protected by MICA.
Sunset at Covey Island, one of the islands protected by MICA.

The first settlers of Lunenburg must have been in awe at such freedom.  What we now call Germany was at the time an assortment of many principalities of various sizes.  Going down the “highway” of the river Rhine to Rotterdam, where they boarded the ship that would take them across the Atlantic, the emigrants would have been stopped at every border crossing and paid tolls.  Many of them had even needed to secure permission from their feudal lord to leave the land they were bonded to as peasants.  Once they reached Lunenburg in 1753, they must have been very appreciative of the freedom to profit from their own labour and build their future with their own hands.

Even some of the modern-day German immigrants to Nova Scotia that I know have expressed to me their appreciation of the freedom they have here in a society that is less regulated than the one they left behind.

The entire natural coastline of this island has been destroyed and replaced with a rock wall.
The entire natural coastline of this island has been destroyed and replaced with a rock wall.

The Mahone Islands Conservation Association (MICA) works to protect public access to the islands of Mahone Bay, as well as to preserve their natural environment.  The islands are increasingly under pressure by private owners and developers.  Natural shorelines and nesting habitats are disrupted (photo right).  Owners of some islands chase visitors off beaches that have long been used by the general public. (Some have been known to brandish guns in their efforts, something  that Canadians or at least Nova Scotians just don’t do.)

From what I understand, depending on the type of deed, the intertidal zone has legally remained public except in a few cases where water rights were transferred.  In a country where travel by boat was the norm, the right to land on a shore would have been an issue of public safety.  Nowadays, it seems that there is a trend for private property rights to be extended into the intertidal zone –  whether by deed, by custom, by complicity of the authorities or by ignorance by the public, I don’t know.  Enlighten me if you know anything more about this issue, please, by commenting below.

Meanwhile, I take pleasure in seeing the decendants of the original Lunenburg settlers, with names such as Meisner and Ernst,  involved in MICA, perserving public access to the islands of Mahone Bay for future generations of humans and seabirds.

Blue-winged teal

Perched on a rock at high tide, a female blue-winged teal
Perched on a rock at high tide, a female blue-winged teal

Another duck in our local collection, alongside American black ducks, mallards and buffleheads. I wouldn’t ordinarily get such a photo, but there was a bush between us and the duck was preoccupied, I suppose. The tide was very high, flooding the marshes. It’s duck country.

Ice on an April morning

On a cold morning the receding tide leaves a film of ice on the seaweed and rocks along the shore.  Nova Scotia is blessed with natural shorelines like this, a haven for wildlife which is threatened by development.
On a cold morning the receding tide leaves a film of ice on the seaweed and rocks along the shore. Nova Scotia is blessed with natural shorelines like this. It's a haven for wildlife, but threatened by development. More about that in future posts. We feel fortunate to live along an undeveloped coastline.
Ice forms patterns on two species of seaweed.
Ice forms patterns on two species of seaweed.
Chunks of heavier winter ice are heading out to sea, temporarily caught in the overnight freeze, soon to be melted by the warming spring sun.
Chunks of heavier winter ice are heading out to sea, temporarily caught in the overnight freeze, soon to be melted by the warming spring sun.

Spring breakup

Spring is coming – we know it from watching the ice disappear.  Martins River down the road is completely clear now, but outside our sheltered inlet there is a large, solid sheet of ice that goes up and down with the tide but hasn’t yet broken up, except around the edges.  When it does, the tide will carry it away.  It’s preventing the ice pans in our inlet from leaving for the open sea.  So they’re melting, and leaving a large open space of water.

2009-03-20-view
Melting ice in the inlet, blocked by a large sheet of ice from the open sea beyond.

Thinning ice pans that we were walking on a month ago
Thinning ice pans that we were walking on a month ago