Summer Feels and Seasonal Amnesia

We are deep into the lazy, hazy days of summer now; watching helplessly as July slips quickly behind us and we round the corner on August.

Hopefully you’ve been spending at least some of these impossibly long days exploring and enjoying all that the Maritimes has to offer.

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Lunenburg waterfront
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Cape Split, NS

It always strikes me that when you’re sweating out the summer months, even though you know that winter is most definitely coming, you still can’t fully comprehend of how cold and miserable it’s really going to be.  And when you’re deep in the dark depths of January and February, it feels like you’ll never feel the warmth of the sun again.  It’s like we develop some sort of seasonal amnesia in order to cope (is this already a thing?).

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Winter Wonderland, long forgotten

The really good news is that we’re currently in the sweatin’ and forgettin’ stage of our seasonal amnesia.  That glorious stage when blizzards are but distant memory and storm chips have been replaced by campfire chips.


But beware, my dear fair-weather friends, the clock is indeed ticking.  I can feel the days getting shorter by the moment.  Those stunning summer sunsets and glorious beach days are numbered.

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So, get out there and enjoy every second of it!  Have drinks at the boardwalk, explore a place you’ve never been, take a sailing lesson or hike that peak you’ve always wanted to tackle.  Because seasonal amnesia is real (or not) and winter is coming.

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That Hammock Life
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A Little Bit of Summer in April: A Day on the Nerepis River

This past week we got a little taste of summer in April, and it was glorious.  After trudging through a cold and grey couple of weeks, we welcomed some unseasonably warm temperatures with childlike abandon: people played hooky from work, the shorts and flip flops were quickly dug out from deep within closets and patios sprang up overnight in the city.

One of the things I love about living in Canada is that we appreciate nice weather.  I mean, we really appreciate it.  Because you just never know when you’re going to get another +22 degree, cloudless day.  It could be weeks, even months from now.  So, you’ve got to get outside and enjoy it while you can.

That’s what we did on Thursday.  We called a couple friends and loaded a couple canoes on the trailer and headed for the hills – of Welsford, New Brunswick – and the Nerepis River.

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Checking out the water level at Blagdon first, the lowest point in the river.  Looks good!

The Nerepis meanders along gently, with topography that ranges from sandy banks to grassy meadows and a golf course, to tree lined cliffs.  There is plenty of wildlife: we saw several eagles (one huge mother!), lots of geese and other birds, and a turtle sunning itself on an old tree stump.

All set to go!  Just waiting on our companions to launch their canoe.
Gorgeous day for a paddle.

 

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Lots of pretty S-curves and clear blue skies.

There were quite a few trees across the river and unfortunately my paddling skills were pretty rusty and one of the ‘sweepers’ – what paddlers call overhanging obstacles such as tree limbs and branches – took us out pretty early on and Joel and I ended up soaked from the waist down.

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Peter and Chris approaching the ‘sweeper’ that took I us out.  They did fine.
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We did not fair so well.  Joel managed to keep his cigar lit, though!

Luckily it was already close to 20 degrees by that time and we were able to dry off in the sun fairly quickly.  My feet, however, were wet for the rest of the day.

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Lunch time at the beach.  Time to dry off!
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Hills in the distance.
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Turtle tracks in the sand.

It was a great day.  I love the smell of summer on the skin.  It’s a mixture of sunscreen, sweat and fresh air.  It makes all of the bitterly cold days of winter worth it.

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A very pretty river.
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We saw a lot of eagles in this section.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to capture them.

They say the weather has shifted and that temperatures will be cooler for the next while, but that’s ok.  We know that summer is on the way.  For now we can be thankful for this little taste of summer in April.

Lamenting the Loss of Summer

Oh Summer, Summer, where did you go?

You’ve left us all without your glow

Where do you go when the season’s done?

Are you hiding just beyond the sun?


Warm nights are gone, you’ve left us cold

The pool supplies have all been sold

The cottage at the beach sits still

To bring you back, we’d probably kill


Summer fun’s been packed away; the soup is on the stove

There are no more beach days, or swimming at the cove

We’ll wait for you impatiently, till you show yourself once more

We’re all a little worried what Old Man Winter has in store


School is in; it’s that time of year

When all you want is pumpkin beer

Summer sun, we’ll see you soon

For now, I guess, we’ll have the moon


I love to watch the seasons change

I know to some that might sound strange

Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall

But you, I’ll miss you most of all


Oh Summer, Summer, where did you go?

You’ve left us all without your glow

Where do you go when the season’s done?

Are you hiding just beyond the sun?

Maritime Growing Season: The Wild Blueberry Harvest

My family owns a few wild blueberry fields in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.  Every year around this time, the blueberry harvest begins and it’s like a siren call luring me home.  I take a week off work each year to make the trip from Saint John to help my parents out with the harvest.

Most blueberries are harvested now using large tractors with special attachments but some fields aren’t conducive to this method or have sections that the tractors can’t get to. So me, my parents, my siblings, the older grand-kids and anyone else who wants to earn a few extra bucks and give themselves a backache, head to the fields to handpick a path for the tractors and anywhere else that my father, aka the Blueberry Warden, deems fit.

At one time, blueberry fields would be completely handpicked.  Bus loads of workers would wearily make their way to the fields each morning, straining away all day in the hot sun, doing this incredibly physical work everyday for 3 or 4 weeks.  You got paid by the bucket; depending on how good the berries were you would probably get $1.25 or $1.50 a bucket in my childhood.  Not many people want to work so hard for so little reward these days and the harvesters do the work much faster so the days of handpicking are pretty much over, at least in Cumberland County.

And it is backbreaking work, let me assure you.  For those of you that have never had the distinct “pleasure” of handpicking wild blueberries, let me paint you a picture: you spend your entire day bent over in the late August heat, with blueberry vines scratching at your legs while you heave away at those loathsome blue bastards using your metal-teethed torture device (that you are likely to stab yourself with at least once by the end of the week).  You will come to hate those devil-spawn berries, probably by the end of the first day.  It will hurt to bend over; it will hurt to stand up.  You will see blueberries when you close your eyes at night.  They will stain all your clothes and your hands.  And don’t even get me started on blueberry spiders – I live in fear of those monsters.

But the thing is, despite all the hard work, I have a lot of fond memories of picking blueberries. Memories of childhood summers spent running around Papa’s blueberry fields and well deserved afternoon treats of ice-cold Popsicles.  Stuffing your face with blueberries, straight off the vine and warmed by the sun, until Papa yells at you to “stop eating all my profits!”.

These days, the harvest is one of the few times a year my whole family gets together.  It’s a reunion and it’s a time to catch up.  My maternal grandmother picked blueberries well into her 60’s and when she finally had to stop, she found she really missed the social aspect of it.  You’ve got lots of time to chat in the blueberry field.  It’s also a time to celebrate the end of summer and reset ourselves for the start of a new season.  To this day, every blueberry harvest season makes me feel like I’m going back to school.  And there are benefits to your family owning blueberry fields: all the blueberries you can eat.  I love a bowl of them with milk and a little bit of sugar.

There will come a time, perhaps soon, when we will no longer get together for the blueberry harvest.  We’re all getting older, it’s harder on our bodies.  We won’t converge on this lonely hilltop for a week in late August to share in the experience of hard work and a job well done.  We won’t tease my father for being a slave driver and each other about who picked more.  And as strange as it might be to some, I will probably miss it. Because nothing bonds a family quite like a common goal.  And this year was particularly sweet, as we had another reason to celebrate – my father’s 60th birthday. The celebration brought family and friends together for an incredible feast and was a wonderful way to end our visit and another successful blueberry harvest season.

Here are a few photos from blueberry harvest 2015:

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Summer in Saint John

I can feel it in the air.

Summer is starting to wind down.  You can feel the slightest bite in the early morning air, the days are getting shorter and the occasional brown leaf flutters across the driveway after a late summer storm.  Soon it will be all sweaters and boots and pumpkin spiced lattes.  But for now it’s still summer in the city.  That most coveted time when a sweater is not (always) required to have drinks on the boardwalk.  That time when the Bay of Fundy fog is sometimes even a welcome, cooling blanket.  And it seems like we’re in for a late summer heat wave so it’s a perfect weekend to head to the boardwalk or to one of the many beaches around Saint John.

From Canada Day celebrations to Buskers on the Bay, to late night drinks with friends, summer is a wonderful time in Uptown Saint John.  I feel like Uptown really is the heart of soul of this city.  It’s where we gather for celebrations small and large and it’s the place visitors gravitate towards, and for good reason.  From the lively boardwalk patios to the somber Loyalist Burial Grounds; from the charming brownstone homes on Germain Street to the stunning view down Princess Street when the sun is dipping low. You could almost imagine that those lazy days of summer will go on forever.  Until they’re over.  The wind will shift ever so slightly and suddenly it will be fall.  And that’s not so bad, really.  We’ve got a lovely September and October to look forward to.  And I do love to wear tights.  But first a few more beautiful summer weekends in Saint John, please.

Here are some shots from my summer in Saint John:


  

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