The Sea Around Us

When I started this blog last month the idea was that I would enforce the daily discipline of writing. So much for that. Somehow the writing got lost in the gardening, bridge, entertaining, and being entertained that are all part of summer in North Hatley.

Last week it was a trip to Brier Island, Nova Scotia that got in the way of the writing. Brier Island is far. How far? Drive eight hours east, overnight in St. Andrew’s by the Sea, drive two more hours, take a ferry for two hours, drive west until you come to the Petit Passage, take a ferry (10 minutes), drive the length of Long Island to the Grand Passage, take another ferry and you are at Westport on Brier Island. Google Maps says close to 12 hours. It took 14 on the return trip because the ferry schedule was in our favor. This is one instance in which capitals are allowed. It is FAR. It is also beautiful.

Brier Island is on the Bay of Fundy known for the highest tides in the world. You can best gauge the size of the rise and fall on the ferry. You get on at one time and the ferry railing is level with the top of dock. Another time and the top of the dock is 15 feet above you. Reach out and you can grab seaweed and moss.

This is not the sandy beached Atlantic of the Delaware and Maryland coast. It is the Atlantic of rock-ribbed Maine. There is one sandy beach at Sandy Cove on the Digby Neck. The rest is rocks, seaweed covered rocks and and pebbles. If you are lucky you can even find sea glass. Mostly it is rocks so I took pictures of rocks. Here they are. Words next time.A Touch of Color Green on the Beach IMG_7072 Rocks and Barnacles and Cockles IMG_7065 IMG_7071 IMG_7063


The Wonder of Bumblebees

Every time I moan and groan about dandelions, roaring trucks and rumbling motorcycles would someone please remind me about bumble bees, red wing blackbirds and muskrats. Our cottage sits between our town’s major road and a river. The road gives us the trucks, motorcycles, commuters and day trippers. The river the gives us the wonder of the muskrats and blackbirds.

This morning we stopped to look at a bumble bee that was exploring my patch of dandelion-free yard.* It flew into a hole left by a dandelion and then came out. “Maybe they have nests under the ground,” said my husband. Just then the bee flew out and moved on to the next excavation and again flew out. Three times it did this before heading across the driveway. Bumblebees nest in the ground?

Yes, they do. Thanks to the wonder of the internet (and Wikipedia) I learned more about the bumblebee in five minutes than I had ever known. For example, “In the early spring, the queen comes out of diapause (a state of dormancy different from hibernation) and finds a suitable place to create her colony. Then she builds wax cells in which to lay her eggs which were fertilized the previous year. “ Bumblebees build their nests in or on the ground and do not produce the neat hexagonal cells of the honeybee.

That’s why I will now be very careful about disturbing the straw that I’ll use to cover my small potato patch. Do not want to make a bunch of bumblebees feel threatened.

It is so easy going through life nodding at one or another of God’s creatures without thinking about them. And then one morning you take the time to look and wonder. What makes a bumblebee different from a honeybee, for example?

There are joys in retirement. One of them is the time to stop to watch a bumblebee explore a hole in the ground and then to spend part of your morning benefiting from the work of scientists for whom the world of the bumblebee is their world.

*Used no Roundup or other herbicide. My trusty asparagus style weeder and time. I know they will come back. Keeping this one small patch dandelion-free is something like a meditative experience. I know my lawn.