To see a World in a Grain of Sand

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour
William Blake

Today at Gilbert’s Cove, Nova Scotia, I saw that world.

Painting on Brier Island

Six years ago I spent a week painting on Brier Island. It looks like I’m going to have that chance again in August and I am so excited about it. Here is the post from that original trip:
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When Nova Scotia was Twinned with Africa

When I turned 60, that number looked big; but when I listen to my thoughts or look into my heart or look around me I feel much, much younger. But even if I were turning 100 it would still feel insignificant after our journey in 2011 to a magical place in Nova Scotia that is 350 million years old. Continue reading

Painting the Diamond in the Bay of Fundy

I’m excited to be heading back to this painter’s paradise tomorrow. It is an artist retreat on an island in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. You know. The place with the highest tides in the world.
The following post is from 2012 on my first trip to the island with a group of artists.

When we arrived at Long Island in the Bay of Fundy for our Artist Retreat,  it was an overcast and showery afternoon. The mist and fog shrouded this huge rock of an island that we could see from our cabin. It looked ancient and mysterious as it disappeared and reappeared in the mist and I was anxious to see it at sea level when the low tide allowed it.

Diamond Island, Five Islands, NS.

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Brier Island Trails

Most long weekends in August we camp on Brier Island with Bear River friends.

It’s very low key…shared food, mostly vegetarian, cooked over the campfire or propane stove, sleeping in tents, nature walks, and lots of talks and laughter and bird watching and telling stories and sharing ideas and catching up.

One of my favorite delights is to fall asleep listening to the ocean waves. Or is it waking up to the haunting calls of seals?

Come with me down the green path…..



Along the bumpy ridge…..


Past the living tidal pools……


Along the craggy shoreline…….P1420180

Past the basalt lava flow that reaches all the way to Blomidon.P1420177


Past the rising tide…….P1420120Past the ocean waves……


Follow your nose……


Past the wild and fragrant Roses…..


We might be under shelter…


…or checking out the new, lone teepee…


..or riding bikes….


…or searching…


…or watching the sun set…


…or at the campfire…


…or walking through fields of wildflowers


…or imagining a new painting….


…or waiting for a ferry to go home.



The Year Ends at the Bay of Fundy

Bear River snow.

Detail from a painting by Wayne Boucher

We had all the ingredients for a Merry Christmas this year. Food, Swiss chocolate, art, a fragrant tree, friends, our daughter Emily, and beautiful snow. Only our son Jesse was missing from the mix, which was too bad, but we did spend lots of time on the phone catching up with his city life.

Our sweet local Christmas tree. You can see we used up some Green Willow tissue paper.

It’s wonderful to have our daughter home….this time from London.  She’s been helping us get back into finishing up house tasks like painting the last few walls, hanging towel racks and putting up coat hooks; little details that we stopped working on 2 years ago. She’s very determined to have us organized before she departs on her next adventure. It’s amazing how you stop seeing the unfinished trim around the windowsill or the temporary  curtain on the bathroom window after the main renovations are over.

Fresh, fragrant boughs.

I doubt we would have even bothered with the tree and decorations if neither of the ‘kids’ had come home, but I really liked the effect and I’m so glad we were encouraged to do so. Thanks Emily!
The fresh tree came  from a neighbour who delivered in on the day he cut it. All for $15 and the fabulous fragrance was free.

The land was green up until early Christmas Eve when snow started falling and falling and falling.  It was so very pretty that I took a break from cooking and walked around the block to admire Nature’s beauty.

Our pond is starting to ice up. The dark spot is where a continuous mini-waterfall flows.

Tall and Short.

There was very little traffic and in the ditches I could hear water trickling in its eternal journey down, down, down the hills to the river.

Walking on Pleasant Street.

The snow was fluffy and light.

The Baptist Church steeple in the distance.

I wonder what story this building is telling. Who lived here? Where did the back porch go to?

An old story.

I stopped in to visit a neighbour and when I emerged to continue my walk home, it was dark. The only sound to break the silence was the wind in the tall bare branches – a sound I’ve always found very soothing. I stopped and stared up and thought about how nice it would be to see my departed parents and grandparents again. I thought about Robert Frost’s poem.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


Meanwhile over the last week, soup and other food was made and shared at a few gatherings and of course, way too many sweets were eaten.


So just to ground us again and ease us back into thinking about creativity, we went with friends to visit Wayne Boucher, Nova Scotia’s celebrated painter. He treated us to a tour of his new paintings in his retrofitted studio that overlooks the Bay of Fundy.

Visiting Wayne Boucher’s studio.

On the wharf at Parker’s Cove.

By December 28th, the Christmas snows were gone and the weather was balmy.

Standing on the Wharf looking out across the Bay of Fundy was, as always, a visual treat. What inspiring shapes and blues in that water and sky. Wow! What a gift for us all.

Bay of Fundy at Parker’s Cove.

Wayne Boucher’s palette:

I think Wayne’s palette repeats the colours in the Bay of Fundy.

A Monk, the Harvest, Time Travel, Art, Music and Family

A couple of days before our tree fell,  I planted over 120 cloves of garlic for me and 80 for my friend Pat. I had some time to think about all the posts I didn’t write this month.

Although I used to wonder what people ever did ‘for fun’ in a little village, I have to say that now I know that so many events and activities happen in a month that it’s not possible to take part in everything let alone write about it all.

Still, I would like to share with you some of the events that happened here to me in October. Continue reading

Having a Lemon Meringue Kind of Day

Look at the fabulous colours in this building-under-renovation in Belliveau Cove, down on the French Shore between Digby and Yarmouth.

Larry and I went for a little adventure today to shake the winter blues. A few readers of this blog had reminded me of the visual delights of the French Shore, so off we went in the direction of Grosse Coques (translation: Big Clams) to take our well water sample to the lab. You may not remember, but we’ve had ongoing problems with bacteria in our well and it’s been a long time since we’ve tested the water.

Back in October, our bath water was running in a beautiful pale shade of avocado green, with no odour, but still, not really what we wanted to be drinking . It’s from the manganese in our well. We had a water specialist fellow over and he described a water treatment system that could be installed in the basement and that sounded very complex, very expensive and that required annual expensive re-analysis. We stalled.

The green is from a high, but acceptable amount of maganese in the water.

We found a new water filter that made the water clear again and we added some bleach to the well. So now we are waiting for the results which will measure the amount of bacteria. It used to be that a certain amount was allowed in a ‘pass’. But now it’s a zero tolerance kind of thing. That is, as homeowners, you can do whatever you want with your water, but if you were to run a commercial establishment, it would have to be up to code.

Many of our friends have the attitude that people in rural Canada have been drinking well water of various types and conditions for years and years with no ill effects, so why make a big deal about it. Some even go so far as to say that some (non e-coli) bacteria in the water is good for you. It means it’s alive…….like us, like the plants, like the billions of bacteria that live in our digestive systems.

Salt water at St. Mary's Bay

It was so windy when we got to the lab that it took both of us to shut the door of the behind us. Inside, a man and a woman in lab coats greeted us and when we asked about the giant pot of boiling water on the stove, they joked that they were cooking lobster. They almost ‘had’ me there for a minute. It all seemed so plausible with the sea churning outside. This is their backyard view:

Low tide.

The test costs $22 and we’ll find out our coliform bacteria counts and any e-coli…..which we’ve never had and don’t expect. The results will be emailed tomorrow.

After that we continued down the shore and stopped at the Université Sainte-Anne where classes are conducted in French.

I had an enormous slice of Lemon meringue pie in their cafe. It was wonderful to hear all those around us speaking French. It really felt like we were on an exotic holiday.

On our way home, we stopped into visit Gilberte Doelle, the organic farmer and owner of Wild Rose Farms. She sells fabulous vegetables at the local markets in the summer and also grows greens in her unheated greenhouses.

Wild Rose Farm unheated greenhouse in March.

Gilberte invited us in for a cup of tea from her own special blend that was a combination of roses and lemon balm and about 5 more things. She’s starting to sell these at the markets. We got talking about seed saving and she told me how to save seeds from my heirloom tomatoes that I’ll be growing this summer. Apparently, you have to ‘ferment ‘ the seeds first. I found some instructions on the internet. I was pretty excited about this because I would like to save more from my own plants. I am noticing how the prices of seeds have risen in the last couple of years. I am also impressed with the rigour and adaptability of the plants I’ve grown from my own seed…like blue lake runner beans, pumpkins and garlic from cloves. They are well adapted to our soil and conditions.

The view across the road from Gilberte's house and farm.

Gilberte and I talked about a New Brunswick seed seller who has just relocated to the Annapolis Valley.  Andrea Berry produces Hope Seeds who claim Passion for seed saving; commitment to sustainable agriculture; and securing local food systems for future generations.

They grow their own seed and are committed to heritage and rare plants. I was just about to FINALLY order my seeds for this year, so I consider running into Gilberte very lucky.

We got home and pulled on our icers to walk down the long icy driveway to our house. But I didn’t even notice the ice because visions of heritage tomatoes, lemon pie, and dramatic crashing waves filled my thoughts. Not a bad way to spend a cold winter’s day.

St. Mary's Bay.

Ferry, cross the Bay of Fundy

The view of Nova Scotia from the Bay of Fundy was spectacular.


We were both thrilled with the trip. We could barely contain our excitement to finally be arriving at our new adventure.
Our car was stashed in the lower level of the ferry, stuffed with enough provisions and clothes until our moving truck arrives. And our bewildered cat Fluffy was in the car too.


The ferry ride from New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia: