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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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.



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.