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.

The Legendary Winter that Was

The Maritimes had a winter like no other. Prince Edward Island had a record-breaking total snowfall of 549.6 cm, which works out to about 18 ft of snow (to date). Fortunately it didn’t fall all at once. Thanks to social media, images of people tunnelling through snowbanks to look for their cars, and Good Samaritans sculpting Grand Canyons so that neighbours could leave their homes, became etched into the popular consciousness.

backhoe
March 20, moving a lot of fluffy white stuff.

The volume of snow we got here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia wouldn’t faze Northern New Brunswick, but the fact is that we don’t have enough of the heavy equipment needed to handle it around here, as the amount was highly unusual. The usual driveway-clearing equipment, trucks with plows bolted on, were breaking down, and the big backhoes required to liberate some homes were charging $175 per driveway two days after the big storm of March 18. If I were in the snow clearing business, I’d be wondering whether this winter was a harbinger of more climate chaos and if I should invest in heavier equipment.

Many barns around the province caved in, and nurseries lost greenhouses, which are usually uninsurable.

As well as financially and physically, the winter was hard on many people psychologically. The storms came twice a week during a period that some called March Madness, and at times it felt like being bludgeoned repeatedly with a pool noodle reinforced with a hockey stick. There was Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse and many unnamed storms which continued well into April.

I emerged from the winter with newfound upper body and core strength, and was grateful for my teenaged son who is looking buff these days.

Here are some photos from the winter that was.

 

The big storm

The February 15-16 storm that completely buried cars in Prince Edward Island continues to make life difficult for Nova Scotians more than a week later. Tall snowbanks make driving and walking difficult and dangerous, especially in the towns. Elsewhere, snowshoes are the vehicle of choice. Clogged or hidden storm sewers result in flooding when it’s warm(ish) and thick ice when it’s cold, especially in Halifax.  Around Mahone Bay, people have been removing snow from roofs and decks to mitigate damage and leaks, especially whenever rain threatens. What a winter!

After the storm

Ice pellets
Ice pellets

We had a whopper of a nor’easter last night. Schools closed early yesterday and it was a foregone conclusion that they’d be closed today. Many offices in the Maritimes are closed today.

Here close to the Atlantic coast, we had little rain though it was forecast. It came down as ice pellets. The top couple of inches are made of ice pellets, averaging about 1 mm in diameter.

We I don’t often get to ski on our road before it’s plowed, but at time of writing it still is covered, though it seems that 4-wheel drive trucks can get through.

As you can see, the snow drifts around to collect on the sheltered, south-facing side of my swingset greenhouse.

The Foreign Protestants of Lunenburg – Video

Lunenburg is unique in Nova Scotia in its history and personality. Much of that has to do with the people who settled the town in 1753.

My son participated in a youth documentary filmmaking workshop in September 2014. It was part of the (first annual, as it was a great success) Lunenburg Doc Fest.  Here is the result of his work:

Nova Scotia’s Rose Vaughan goes digital

The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.
The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.

CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski once said, “Rose Vaughan’s songs are like Alice Munro short stories.”

High praise, given that Munro just won the Nobel Prize in Literature!

Halifax singer/songwriter Rose Vaughan has penned many iconic tunes over the decades. As a young and vibrant septuagenarian, she still performs occasionally and plans more recordings.

album2
The Trio’s second album

One of her tunes, “Stone and Sand”, from the Rose Vaughan Trio’s 1993 Fire in the Snow album, is featured in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2e7VMqJKt4

Rose’s songs have been going around in my head lately, as well as on my DVD player, because she recently hired me to get her songs online so people could buy them digitally. 

Winter Rose album cover
The Trio’s third album

I was delighted to be asked, as I’ve known Rose since the 1990s and even played a little accordion on her Winter Rose album. Cathy Porter, a consummate musician who did most of the Trio’s arranging and has gone on to be a sought-after side performer with some of Nova Scotia’s biggest stars, also enhanced the sound of bands I was in back then – much smaller stars in the firmament, I assure you. 

Their music was part of my life in the years after I returned to Nova Scotia and before I had my family. They’re lovely human beings whom I feel privileged to know.

The Trio's first album, Sweet Tarragon
The Trio’s first album, Sweet Tarragon

Each of Rose’s songs paints a story. The music is gentle and melodic, and the lyrics thoughtful and introspective. I can’t claim to be objective because of the nostalgia factor, but I’m truly enjoying listening to the albums again.

If you like “Stone and Sand” above, I invite you to take a listen to the songs on the Artist Playlist on her Facebook page, and samples of her other songs there and on her website, where she now sells CDs and mp3s.

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.”