The end of winter, Annapolis Valley

Annapolis Valley view, March 14
Looking from Lower Canard towards the Canard River and the South Mountain, March 14, 2011

Before the official end of winter yesterday, the snow in the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore had mostly melted. A layer of ice, the remnant of sunny days and cold nights, was the last thing to leave our lawn; it took days to melt.

We enjoyed a March Break trip to the Valley, and waking up to these expansive views.

Vinyard in Lower Canard
Vinyard in Lower Canard, March 14, 2011

It’s an early spring

Apple blossoms, maple, birch
Apple blossoms, maple and birch in Lunenburg, May 13th

Apple blossoms were blooming in Lunenburg last Thursday, which means they’re past their prime in the Annapolis Valley already.  The Apple Blossom Festival will apparently be blossom-less.  Usually the organizers hit the blossoms right on with their timing, but this year it is generally agreed that spring is 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule.

Not that we’re complaining … this is my favourite time of year, when the leaves burst forth.  If it’s part of a long-term trend, however, it could be very disruptive to the natural balance of blooming and birthing, migration and munching, which governs the ongoing survival of many animals and plants.

Spring is early across Canada, not just in Nova Scotia, or so I hear.  Is spring early where you live?  Leave a comment below.

The timing of spring

After almost 3 weeks in Brussels and London (delayed by the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano), I confess to having mixed feelings about coming home.

That’s because it’s really spring in Brussels. When we got there on April 4, the daffodils were past their peak. Forsythia – great bunches of it growing wild – was everywhere. The cherry trees on the streets were blooming pink, and along the highways were many white-blooming trees and bushes. The trees were just on the edge of leafing out when we left Brussels on April 19th.

Sure looks like daffodils and primula were growing wild on the forest floor in the Belgian Ardennes region, April 2010

Now at home, my daffodils have just started, and they’re early this year. I’d counted on this when we planned the trip: seeing two springs. And I will enjoy my second spring as much as the first.

So what is it about Nova Scotia that makes us put up with this extra month of not-quite-spring? And with the cold winters that would kill the broadleaf evergreens that keep Brussels green all year? That’s what I was asking myself as I went for my walk today.

And of course the answer is: the wildness of it. Nature raw and pure. Everything in Europe has been trod upon, cultivated, dug up and built over many times. There is hardly a river that follows its natural course through riverbanks that it carved itself. Humans have had their way with the land for thousands of years.

And we’re having our way with the land in Nova Scotia too, it’s just that we haven’t been here so long in such numbers. Natural shoreline is gradually diminishing, soils are being depleted, pollution locally-made or imported on the jet stream fills our lungs.

The closeness of the wild world reminds us that we still have something to protect, even while we seek to build a viable economy. Can we effectively, sustainably, balance these two concerns?

Maypole Dance at South Shore Waldorf School

It’s the only Waldorf school in Nova Scotia, and every year it hosts a Mayfair – a one-day event to celebrate the coming of spring. Naturally, a maypole dance is part of the festivities. This year, the students, grade 1-6, actually learned a maypole dance, creating quite a different spectacle from the usual mayhem. I filmed it from where I was sitting and created this little video.

The school also has a wonderful kindergarten program. Here’s the link to its website: South Shore Waldorf School and Kindergarten, Blockhouse, Nova Scotia.

Spring Leaf-out in the Annapolis Valley

I had the pleasure of going to the Annapolis Valley yesterday on business.  The leaves are not really much further along there than here on the South Shore, depending where you are.    I noticed a familiar Valley odour, too – a combination of green growing things and the smelly stuff that helps them grow.  No apple blossoms yet, but they must be just about to burst forth – like in this video. They always arrive just in time for the Apple Blossom Festival:

The Anglican church on Church St., near Port Williams in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, taken May 13, 2009.
The Anglican church on Church St., near Port Williams in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.

Beautiful morning

The sweet smell of spring
The sweet smell of spring

I wish I could post the perfumed air that caressed my nostrils when I opened the door this morning so that you could smell it too. These guys on the right may have contributed to it, but the main source is probably all the dandelions that suddenly opened up this morning.

This is my favourite week of the year, when the trees leaf out and the world is transformed.

Where we live, on a tidal inlet on Mahone Bay, it all happens a little later than just up the road, half a mile inland.

The picture below expresses, to me anyway, some of the softness of this morning.

Soft lighting at high tide
Soft lighting at high tide

The boater’s spring ritual

A busy spring day in the marina
A busy spring day in the marina

It’s a laborious but joyful spring chore for boaters in Nova Scotia: taking off the winter cover, cleaning her, fixing her up, painting her bottom, waxing her sides perhaps, and getting her ready to launch.

Owning a boat means using a lot of elbow grease, unless you’re wealthy enough to hire someone to do it all for you.  And contrary to what you may think, boat owners aren’t all wealthy – partly because their boats keep them so.  But the ability to get out on the water provides richness to their lives, whatever their bank balance may be.

Imagine being a sailboat and spending the winter looking at this view. Wouldn't you be saying, "Let's go already!" come spring?
Imagine being a sailboat and spending the winter looking at this view. Wouldn't you be saying, "Let's go already!" come spring?

Spring has surely sprung

Enjoying the tender green grass
Enjoying the tender green grass

Sunny weather is forecast for the next week, with no temperatures below freezing. Time to plant some lettuce.  Not for this bunny to eat, however (I hope).

Only a few weeks ago the rabbits I saw were quite white.  This little fellow has his summer coat on now.  He (or she?) looks quite delighted with the newly greening grass, or perhaps some delectible weed he has found. He was so busy, he didn’t notice me softly walking up the driveway.

Blue jay flies across the lawn
Blue jay flies across the lawn

How quickly comes spring, when it finally comes.  Perhaps even the word “spring” comes from the same root as the kind of spring found in a mattress.  All that life energy is compressed, cowering under winter’s weight, until winter rolls away off the bed and, suddenly released, Spring bursts forth to exuberantly express itself …  Boing … like a rabbit’s hop when it realizes you’re there.