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

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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

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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.

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#me#ocean##great#day#saintjohn#canada

A post shared by Andrew R munn (@portcitymunn) on

 

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/

 

My ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Story: A Do-Over

I have a confession to make: Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year.  I like it better than Christmas Day.  To me, the true magic of the season lies in the anticipation and lead up to the big day rather than the big day itself.  I love the peaceful stillness that fills the house after everyone has gone to bed on Christmas Eve.  But there’s also an undercurrent of excitement, a quiet hum of anticipation for the coming morning.  It’s unlike any other night of the year.  And in my house growing up, my mother would often cook our turkey on Christmas Eve, so that when you went to bed, the house smelled oh, so wonderful.  To this day, the smell of a cooked turkey brings back memories of sleepless nights impatiently waiting to see what Santa brought for me.

When I was a kid, in that little two room schoolhouse I told you about, we had Christmas concerts, just like any other school.  One year I got this crazy idea to memorize the entire ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem and recite it at the school Christmas concert.  I don’t know what possessed my little 8 year old self to tackle such a challenge, but tackle it I did.  I spent weeks learning the poem, going over and over it in my mind.  The idea was to recite the poem for a couple younger school kids, as if I was telling them the story by the fireplace.  My teacher would prompt me if I forgot my line.

When the day of the concert came, I was a nervous wreck.  My stomach was in knots as the time ticked closer to my performance.  When my big moment arrived, I froze.  I couldn’t do it.  I had a major case of stage fright.  My teacher and the crowd tried to cajole me into performing, but I was having none of it.  No way, no how.  I was not going on that stage.

My parents were none too pleased with me and I was disappointed in myself.  I think I realized that my rather tenuous short-term memory was not going to survive all those faces staring expectantly at me.  But I also regretted not at least attempting it, which goes to show the old adage is true: you only regret the things you didn’t do in life.

We don’t often get do-overs in this life, so I’m going to take mine now.  So here I am, reciting (from memory) the now infamous poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, for my 8 year old self.  Better late than never!

I wish you all joy and happiness in the coming week!  Merry Christmas!

 

My Heart Beckons Me Back to Halifax

Or a wedding does, more specifically (congrats, Christy and Kris!).  But it was a glorious excuse to visit one of my favourite cities in the Maritimes, Halifax.  Halifax was my home for 7 years when I was a student studying my undergrad at Dalhousie University and then at the School of Health Sciences.  When driving over the bridge (either of them) into Halifax, it feels simultaneously like coming home and a new adventure.  I always want to know: what has changed since I’ve been gone?  What’s new?

Halifax has a youthful spirit and energy unlike any other city in the Maritimes.  This is no doubt thanks to the large population of college students that flood the city every year between September to April to attend one of three universities and numerous colleges in the HRM area.  It also might have something to do with its reputation as a party town.  It’s been said many times but Halifax really does have one of the highest bars per capita ratios in Canada.

Not much time for that on this visit though.  We were on a tight schedule of visiting and sightseeing.  After a lovely evening’s drive from Saint John to Halifax, we stopped for a quick drink at one of our favourite watering holes near our friend’s place in Dartmouth, Finbar’s Irish Pub.


The next day, after a quick breakfast with more friends at Nena’s Breakfast House, Joel and I set off to make Joel’s first trek to Peggy’s Cove.  It was foggy and misty when we arrived but that didn’t at all damper the charm of this iconic Maritime landmark.  Somehow, the essence and spirit of the Maritimes is captured in this one spot, where land and sea meet with steadfast ferocity. I could have stayed and taken pictures for hours.

     

Our next stop along “the loop” was my friend Michelle’s hammock shop in Seabright, called The Bay Hammock Company.  I had been anxious to visit the shop and see how she’d been doing.  I was enchanted by the charm of the shop and all the colourful handmade hammocks.  It is so wonderful to see an old friend using her considerable artistic talents in such a creative and productive way.  The rope for the hammocks is made onsite using century-old machinery and that rope is weaved by hand into a variety of wonderfully shaped and sized hammocks.  Please visit their website if you would like to learn more (www.bayhammocks.ca).  The shop also features the work of local artists and has plenty of nautical themed gifts to bring home.  Plus they’ve made the largest hammock in Canada, which sits in their yard and makes you feel really small when you climb up on it.

Our last stop of the weekend was the Best Western Plus at Chocolate Lake where we celebrated with the happy couple in a beautiful spot overlooking the lake.  Congrats again, guys!

I’ll leave you with a song that we used to sing in school and that never fails to remind me of the rocky shores around Halifax.  Farewell, Nova Scotia, my love.  Until we meet again!

Victoria Day Long Weekend in Shediac, NB

For the Victoria Day long weekend me, Joel and some friends ventured to the beach in Grand Barachois, just outside of Shediac, NB (thanks for organizing, Sara!).  We rented Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages (there are 6 in total).  We were greeted warmly by owner Judy when we arrived and she quickly set us up in our cottage.  We were blown away by the fantastic view just in front of the cottages of the sand dune and Northumberland Strait just beyond.

The cottages are set up great for families.  All 6 are identical with three small bedrooms, a bath and kitchen, all furnished with everything you need for a weekend getaway (you do have to bring your own linens).  The cottages are located at the very end of the road leading into a campground, so there is little traffic and plenty of space for young ones to run around unfettered.  There is also a little play set there that the little ones really seemed to enjoy playing on, even when one of our beach days got rained out.  Each cottage has its own picnic table and fire pit and there are two BBQs to share between the cottages.  Our only complaints with the cottages were that a BBQ for each cottage would be more convenient and there were some minor issues with some cottages not getting enough hot water vs too much.

We spent the glorious Saturday afternoon exploring Gagnon Beach, which is a wonderful beach with soft, fine sand.  It was great to feel the sand between my toes and the warm of the sun again.  It felt like summer.  We waded through the tide pools, flew kites, hunted for shells and found hermit crabs to show the kids.  It was heaven along the Northumberland Strait.  When we returned to the cottages, in true Maritime fashion, we had a feast of lobster and then sat around the campfire and enjoyed some time spent together and a few tasty beverages.

Our second day was not nearly so nice, but we made the most of it.  The kids didn’t seem to care as they were happy to run around the yard in their rubber boots most of the day.  Joel and I slipped into Shediac to get a quick snap with the world’s largest lobster and Joel was super excited to get some bread and chocolate croissants from La Boulangerie Francaise.  Later on that evening, the rain finally stopped and we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset and one more campfire before turning in.

We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend and highly recommend Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages, especially for groups or families who want to have a reunion/get together.  Here are some images from our weekend:

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View of the sand dune and Northumberland Strait from the cottages.
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Our cottage. Each is exactly the same.
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Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages
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Great day for kite flying!
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Ahhh, this is heaven.
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Looking back at the cottages from the beach.
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A quick walk on the beach before the rain came in
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Rainy day visit to the giant lobster in Shediac!
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Photo op with the big guy and his fisherman friend
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Lucked out finding the home base of La Boulangerie Francaise
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So many yummies!
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Last night and the skies are clearing, making for a gorgeous sunset

If you would like to know more about Chalets Lombard Beach Cottages, here’s some info:

http://www.cottagesincanada.com/chaletslombardbeachcottages