Spring in the Maritimes: Colour has Returned!

It’s the Victoria Day long weekend and it’s sunny and 20+ degrees outside!  It’s the unofficial start to summer, meaning: BBQs, camping, and lazy days at the beach.

Summer doesn’t officially arrive for another month, and really, it feels like spring is just getting started.  The grass is green now (we mowed ours for the first time last night), the leaves are popping out on the trees and bright blooms can be seen on every corner.  In short, colour has come back to our world.

I’ve been playing around with a new camera I bought myself for birthday recently (happy birthday to me!).  It’s my first DSLR so I’m still learning my way around it (there’s so many buttons!).

When I started this blog, it was mostly about wanting to write.  I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with photography.  There is something wonderful about telling stories through pictures, and no better way to share the beauty of this place.  And I guess the principles of writing and photography are really the same when you boil it down: it’s about noticing things.  Like noticing the way the evening light hits a flower, creating delicate shadows from the stamen on the petals.  It’s about exploring too, and seeing things through fresh eyes.  I would encourage you to take an exploration with your camera or phone, and try to see what you can notice around you.  I promise, it will open up a world of wonder.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently.  I’ve got my new Canon Rebel T5 and I’ve been zooming around Saint John taking shots of pretty much everything.  I love the way the DSLR can get you so much closer than the iPhone, which is what I’ve been taking all my photos on.  I thought I’d share a few spring shots with you today.

I hope you all have a fantastic long weekend and enjoy the sunshine while it’s here!

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Irving Nature Park salt marshes
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Saints Rest Beach, Irving Nature Park
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Looking across Saints Rest Beach to the Bay of Fundy and beyond.
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Reversing Falls bridge and the city of Saint John in the pretty evening light.
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Adventures in backyard photography
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Love those little raindrops
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Fresh new maple leaves through soft evening light
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I can’t get enough of that light!
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Here’s those lovely shadows I was talking about.  At Saint John Public Gardens.
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Lily Lake, Rockwood Park
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No swimming yet!
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Forsythia in bloom
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From Fort Howe to the Coast Guard station, SJ is stunning.

Maritime Love for Fort McMurray

Most of you will know by now that wildfire swept through Fort McMurray, Alberta yesterday, forcing the evacuation of the entire city.  Many people escaped just in time and with only the clothes on their backs.

The fires within the city have been put out for now, but the wildfire still looms threateningly nearby.  Some 1600 structures have been lost to the fire; entire neighbourhoods are gone.

I know I speak for many when I say that we grieve for you, Fort McMurray.

The Maritimes has always had strong ties to Alberta, and Fort Mac in particular. Every Maritimer has a family member or friend working in the area.  We keep you in our thoughts; we pray for a speedy and safe resolution to this nightmare you find yourselves unable to wake up from.

If you would like to help, you can donate to the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal here or by texting ‘REDCROSS’ to 30333.

If you are still trying to locate family or friends in the area, you can contact the Red Cross, or Facebook has activated its safety check feature.

Fort Mac
THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Michael De Adder

 

Where the Land Meets the Sea

Is there any place more beautiful than where the land meets the sea?

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By the Seaside: The Secret of the Sea

Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.

Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
And the answer from the shore!

Most of all, the Spanish ballad
Haunts me oft, and tarries long,
Of the noble Count Arnaldos
And the sailor’s mystic song.

Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft, monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;–

Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
With his hawk upon his hand,
Saw a fair and stately galley,
Steering onward to the land;–

How he heard the ancient helmsman
Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
Poised upon the mast to hear,

Till his soul was full of longing,
And he cried, with impulse strong,–
‘Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
Teach me, too, that wondrous song!’

‘Wouldst thou,’–so the helmsman answered,
‘Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!’

In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies;

Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Winter Project

Winter is the perfect time to take on a little home decorating project.  It gives you something to do while your waiting for the evening light and warm temperatures to return.

This January I decided to take on redecorating a small bedroom in our home.  A room desperately in need of a fresh coat of paint and a new purpose.  The task?  Turning this drab, unused space into a cozy reading oasis.

Seriously in need of help

The idea took shape when I spotted this amazing print from Sweet Sycamore in a Canadian Living magazine.  The idea grew from there.

You can’t not sing the song

A great shade of paint (Antiqued Aqua, Benjamin Moore), a comfy chair, some lighting and a few bookcases later and I love my new room!  It’s a great place to hang out and chill, with plenty of storage for future book purchases.

A cozy corner

 

Lots of space for books

 

Now I have somewhere to display my cloth bound books and tea set!

I’m still searching for the perfect curtains (aren’t they so hard to find?) and I may add a few details over time but overall I’m very happy with how it turned out.  It was a great use of my indoor winter time and now I have a space that is much more useful for me.
A special feature of the room that my husband insisted on are hammock hooks.  You know, in case chairs just aren’t your thing.  I was resistant at first but it was a huge hit at our annual Stoutfest party last weekend and I must admit it’s pretty comfy (don’t tell my husband!).  Also, it’s easy to take down so it doesn’t have to dominate the room all the time.

I’m trying to pretend I don’t like it.

Have you taken on any indoor winter projects to get you through the coldest months?

I’d love to hear about them!

A Few of My Favourite Maritime Instagramers

Those of us who call the Maritimes home know just how beautiful it is here: swallowed up by the chilly Atlantic Ocean, home to the world’s highest tides.  From the deep green forests of NB, to the red sand soils of PEI, it’s all so photogenic.

Instragram is full of pictures of our stunning Maritimes.  One thing I really enjoy about the app is how it encourages you to take note of what’s around you.  To look at the little details, like the way the snow falls in perfect little spheres or the way the evening light filters through the forest trees . There are some Maritime instagramers who are really killing it. They promote our region with their incredible photography and they inspire me to get out and explore the region too.

The following is a list of some of my favourite Maritime Instagramers.  It’s by no means exhaustive.  If you know of a great Maritime Instagramer that I should be following, please pass their name/handle along!

My Favourite Maritime Instagramers:

  1.  Colin Swift (@colinscamera) – In Colin’s bio he says, “It’s beautiful, look around” and that he certainly does.  He sets up regular Insta-meets and his explorations around the Maritimes result in some of the most stunning photos I’ve seen on Instagram, or anywhere for that matter.

 

2.  Melinda Foster (@Melinda.Foster) – Melinda takes stunning nature and wildlife photos of southern NB.  I am continually impressed by the patience that she must possess in order to get some of her shots.  I love her photos because they show the wildness of NB in an up close and personal way that we city dwellers don’t often get to see.

 

3.  Jordan (@fundysnapper) – Jordan takes striking photos around my favourite city on the Bay of Fundy: Saint John.  His streetscapes show off the history and architecture the city is so well known for, in it’s very best light.

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Saint John City Market @sjcitymarket

A post shared by Jordan (@fundysnapper) on

 

4.  Amy Stackhouse (@amystackhouse) – Amy takes photos around Nova Scotia and I really love her attention to detail in her photography.  Her shots are always so interesting and I find myself drawn into them and pausing to study all the exquisite details in each one.

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Misty morning

A post shared by Amy Stackhouse Photo (@amystackhousephoto) on

 

5.  Jordy Smits (@JORDY_SMITS) – In his bio, Jordy says he is a self taught photographer from The Netherlands currently based on the east coast of Canada.  He does mostly night shots and his photos have a surreal and dream-like quality that I love.  It’s a different take on the Maritime landscapes that are so familiar to us in the day.

 

6.  Morgan Haley (@coastalwanderings) – Morgan takes gorgeous photos from all around eastern Canada.  I love how varied her shots are, from forest trails to dreamy beaches.

 

7.  Robert Hebert (@rbrthebert) – Robert is a self-professed adventurer and seems to take full advantage of the numerous outdoor opportunities available in New Brunswick.

 

8.  Andrew Ryan Munn (@PORTCITYMUNN) – Many of Andrew’s photos feature one of my personal favourite Maritime locales: The Bay of Fundy.  His photos display the raw power of the Bay as well as its calmer, gentler side at sunset.

 

9.  Nick Jay (@JAYPROGRAMMER) – Nick is a photographer from PEI and his shots of the Island’s landscapes makes me miss PEI’s breezy and beachy vibe.

 

10.  Bryn Robinson (@BRYNPHD) – I’ve just recently starting following Bryn on Instagram but she’s got a great eye for zeroing in on the most interesting subject matter.

My Goals for 2016

Well, here we are.  2016.  Another year stretched out before us.  Another blank slate ready to be scratched upon with indelible ink.  So far, 2016 is looking pretty good.  I spent New Year’s Eve in Moncton at Casino New Brunswick for a concert featuring two great Canadian bands: I Mother Earth and Our Lady Peace.  One thing that’s cool about concerts is that you end up sharing these cool little moments with strangers around you. For a few short moments of time, you share a common goal.  The power of music is that it reveals the connections between us.  So, thank you to the crew we came with as well as those we met along the way, like cool dude in the Bill Fucking Murray t-shirt who held up a lighter during the show (no one does that anymore!).   Or the girl in the hipster glasses and awesome outfit in line at the bar who struck up a conversation with me that continued randomly throughout the evening. These are the kind of unexpected meetings that make a night memorable.

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Our Lady Peace takes the stage
Lots of confetti to ring in the New Year

Seeing as we’ve flipped the page on another year and started with a blank slate, it’s appropriate to think about what we wish to accomplish in the coming year.  Even if we don’t come close to reaching our goals, they give us focus and something to work towards.

Here are some of my personal goals for 2016:

1.  Continue to spread the word about Maritime Love and help others do the same.  I’m currently working on a project that will feature people on the blog who have chosen to make (or continue to make) the Maritimes their home, why they love it here and what they think is needed to make it even better.  More on that project in the coming weeks.

2.  Spend more time outdoors, especially this winter.  The winter season has traditionally been hard for me because I end up feeling cooped up but I know it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you have the proper gear, you can face almost any weather challenge.  So, with my new cold weather gear on order, I’m committing to doing more walking, snowshoe hiking, skating, sledding and skiing in an effort to #makewinterfun.

The first of many walks in the snow


3.  Explore even more of what the region has to offer.  There is still so much I haven’t seen.  A few of the places I plan to visit this year:

  • Mount Carleton – well known as the highest peak in the Maritimes, this would be a great hike to accomplish this year.
  • Ministers Island – this destination has been on my radar since a very cool promotional video on the Charlotte coastal region was released. You reach the island during the summer months by driving over the sea bed at low tide.  Once there, you can explore the estate of Sir William Van Horne, former president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. You have to make sure you drive back over before the tide comes up or you’ll be trapped!  Sounds like a great adventure to me.
  • Cape Chignecto Provincial Park – my husband and I had planned to do this 52km loop hike along the Bay of Fundy coast last year but the timing just didn’t work out.  This would be an ambitious goal for me as I’ve never done a multi-day hike but I would love to accomplish it.
  • Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail – I’ve never been to Cape Breton.  I don’t even know how I can call myself a Maritimer without having seen it, so this year I’m going.  I just can’t decide if it would be better to go in the summer while the weather is warm or wait until the leaves change to brilliant colours.  Any advice on what I should see/do while I’m there would be greatly appreciated!

Those are my main goals for 2016!  Do you have goals you’d like to reach this year?  Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Year in Review: My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2015

It’s New Year’s Eve Eve and everyone seems to be reflecting on the year (almost) passed. I know you’ll probably already have read a bazillion year in review posts and articles but you haven’t read one from me yet, so hold on to your hats.  Actually, it’s not going to be that exciting, but I’m going to write it anyway.

People love reading year in review stuff.  We eat that shit up.  It’s partly because we’re nosy as a species and want to know what everyone else has been up to and partly because we get real reflective about this time of year and we like to look back at all the shit we did/read/talked about over the past 365 days.

This year, I started a blog.  Or, to be more precise, I started regularly writing in my already-created blog.  It’s been a wild ride.  I’ve had over 12,000 views and almost 10,000 visitors from all over the world.  I even had a post go viral-ish (by Maritime standards) with 3,500 views in a single day.  Even for well established blogs, that’s crazy stats.  I would like to thank everyone who read, liked, shared and commented on any of my posts in 2015.  Here’s to many more in 2016!

I’m recapping my blogging year with my top 5 posts of 2015.  Thanks for reading, see you in the new year!

My Top Posts of 2015:

5. Maritime Growing Season: The Wild Blueberry Harvest (August)

A tale of family love and the blueberry chain gang.

https://maritimelove.com/2015/08/30/maritime-growing-season-the-wild-blueberry-harvest/

4.  Summer in Saint John (August)

What I Did Last Summer.  Literally.

https://maritimelove.com/2015/08/13/summer-in-saint-john/

3.  Stepping Up For My City (October)

My call-to-action in support of community improvement.

https://maritimelove.com/2015/10/04/stepping-up-for-my-city/

2.  Ode to the Rural Schoolhouse (April)

A love letter to a place of my rural Nova Scotian youth.

https://maritimelove.com/2015/04/05/ode-to-the-rural-schoolhouse/

 1.  Why Your Opinion of Saint John Needs Updating (April)

A bad-ass listicle for a bad-ass town.

https://maritimelove.com/2015/04/12/why-your-opinion-of-saint-john-needs-updating/